The Most Important Polish Artists of 2016
Which artists most influenced culture in 2016? Whose works were presented at the most prestigious events, and who had the greatest retrospectives in the most important museums? These are the must-know Polish artists that made a big impression in 2016.
Paulina Ołowska – ‘creative genius’
In the last days of December, the New York Times announced its list of people who had the most influence on culture in 2016. In this prestigious group – near Michelle Obama, Lady Gaga, and Donatella Versace – is Paulina Ołowska. The New York Times called her ‘Poland’s most optimistic and backward-looking artist’ and described her as ‘painting, living, and believing in a forgotten past’. Ołowska’s exhibition Wisteria, Mysteria, Hysteria, was hosted in New York’s Metro Pictures in November and December.
Iza Tarasewicz at the 32nd Biennale in São Paulo
Iza Tarasewicz, the winner of the 2015 Views competition, this year participated in one of the most prestigious artistic events in the world – the 32nd Biennale in São Paulo. The Polish artist presented two projects as part of a presentation of Polish culture in Brazil. One of them was a new work dedicated to the tradition of Polish folk music and the similarities it shares with Brazilian folk music. The other was a new installation of Turba, Turbo, referring to chaos theory and presented for the first time at the Views exhibition in Zachęta. The curator of the exhibition, Katarzyna Kołodziej, writes in the exhibition’s catalogue:
Her starting point was a round modernist flowerbed, whose form was connected by the artist with the Great Hadron Collider in the CERN Institute near Geneva. A 27 kilometre-long loop, the accelerator disperses elementary particles close to light speed in different directions causing them to collide. A comparable space could be taken by the famous Oregon Mushrooms or the mythical city of Z, appearing in Exploration Fawcett, a speculative tale from an expedition to the Amazon in 1925 led by Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett (he never returned from this expedition, so we don’t know who the author of the story is). The motive of the huge anaconda is also important, because Tarasewicz’s installation refers to it as well. All of this is connected by the thread of fascination with the absurd, distrust, speculation, and the secrets hidden in all mentioned elements.
Krzysztof Wodiczko at the Liverpool Biennial
Krzysztof Wodiczko was invited for the first time to Liverpool in 2009, while he was preparing a film about the situation of soldiers returning home from missions abroad. In the work War Veteran Vehicle, the artist touched upon the subject of the veterans’ loneliness and problems with re-adapting to life away from the front. The project is composed of interviews with soldiers and their families and friends. In 2016, Wodiczko was invited by the same institution – FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) – for a retrospective of his art as part of the Liverpool Biennial.
At the exhibition, works from over 40 years of his artistic activity were presented during which he worked with marginalised social groups. The central part of the show was the big-format installation Guests (2011) created for the Polish Pavilion for the 53rd Biennale in Venice and reflecting the crisis connected with the emigration wave from last few years.
Edward Krasiński in Tate Liverpool
In Tate Liverpool, the first British retrospective of Edward Krasiński, one of the most important representatives of Polish neo-avant-garde, is taking place until 12th March 2017. The exhibition features sculptures, spacial interventions, and installations – early works by the artist from the 1960s as well as those from the beginning of 2000. Accompanying the exposition of Krasiński's famous blue line taped at 130 centimetres high, Tate Liverpool also put on an exhibition of the French artist Ives Klein, who uses just one blue pigment in his art – ultramarine.
Wojciech Zamecznik in Lausanne
The Wojciech Zamecznik exhibition in Musée de l'Elysée in Lausanne (open until 8th February 2017) recalls one of the most important representatives of the Polish Poster School, recently rediscovered as a photographer as well. It’s his photographic practice that makes a strong impression in the Swiss exhibition, prepared in co-operation with the Archeology of Photography Foundation. The exhibition, as well as ‘photography in the graphic workshop’, also features pictures from his travels and from the family archives. The exhibition is accompanied by a book in three languages, with text by Anne Lacoste about the Zamecznik's photographic practice.
Zofia Rydet in Jeu de Pommes in Paris
The first exhibition of Zofia Rydet’s work in Paris, organised in the prestigious Jeu de Paume gallery (open until 28th May 2017). The exhibition, On Record 1978-1990, shows her most famous and monumental project, Sociological Record. The curators of the exhibition, Sebastian Cichocki and Karol Hordziej write that:
The cycle consists of 20,000 photos taken in over one hundreds towns, mainly in Podhale, Upper Silesia, and the region of Suwałki. The owners of the visited houses were photographed with a wide-angle lens, most often with a strong flash showing the details of the interiors. They pose against the background of the walls of their home, looking right into the camera. This scheme was repeated by Rydet for almost three decades. Convinced that objects and paintings kept in the private space define people and ‘show their psychology’ the photographer decided to undertake a mission to archive the interiors of Polish homes.
The exhibition in Jeu de Paume is a continuation of the research and popularising project dedicated to Sociological Record. Its previous stages were an online archive and the preparation of an exhibition in the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, in co-operation with the Foundation for Visual Arts.
Sources: organiser’s materials, originally written in Polish, 3rd Jan 2017, translated by BR, 9th Jan 2017.