The 5th edition of the Warsaw Gallery Weekend will take over the Polish capital on the last weekend of September. So what are 22 of the most important galleries in Warsaw going to be showing during this whirlwind weekend of art?
Asymetria Gallery will be paying homage to one of the most important Polish photographers of the 20th century, Jerzy Lewczyński. At the “Tribute To” exhibition, Lewczyński's works will be accompanied by those by the contemporary artists Mateusz Choróbski, Mikołaj Długosz, Anna Orłowska, Błażej Pindor, Szymon Rogiński and Tomasz Szerszeń. They will present works that the curator Rafał Lewandowski says are “‘donated’ to Jerzy Lewczyński, but not necessarily faithful to his style as one of the tenets of his practice was to ‘doubt everything’”. The archive presented will at the same time be a germinal seed for the future Jerzy Lewczyński Institute.
BWA Warszawa will present a solo exhibition of works by Ewa Axelrad, a young artist who looks for similarities between artistic practices and military and police strategies. Her installation is a reaction to social demonstrations around the world, a reflection on techniques of pacification and the enforcement of order. Her works unveil a paradoxical set-up in which our need for personal security evolves into self-repression, e.g. when, as a reaction to conflict, we look for a secure place, it turns out to be a ghetto.
Seven solo exhibitions will be presented by Czułość that will be held for the first time in Poligon, an experimental new space at 4 Nowogrodzka Street. As the organisers say: “Each is an expression of their respective artist’s attitude towards contemporary photography ” . At “The Gangway” there will be works by artists from around the world: Nampei Akaki from Japan, Bao Ting from China, Johann Winkelmann from Germany, Vova Vorotniov from Kiev and Stanisław Legus, Weronika Ławniczak and Janek Zamoyski from Warsaw.
The exhibition Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others in the Dawid Radziszewski Gallery features Mihuț Boșcu Kafchin, Łukasz Jastrubczak, Tomasz Kowalski and Marcin Zarzeka. The following anecdote alludes to what’s in store: "A labourer working in a factory left work every day with a wheelbarrow of sand. After a few days, the guard at the gate asked him why he was taking the sand and whether he had permission. The guy got furious and dumped the sand from the wheelbarrow in front of the gatehouse and drove off. In actual fact, he was stealing wheelbarrows, not sand."
Archaeology of Photography Foundation
The Archaeology of Photography Foundation will present photos by Mariusz Hermanowicz, who passed away a few years ago. His archive was created by the foundation in 2015. He created conceptual and documental photography which over the years carefully observed two opposing forces: nature and culture. The exhibition will be accompanied by a video made by Anna Moskal featuring Hermanowicz's archive and presented in a public space near Pole Mokotowskie station, a spot visible from the apartment where the archive is located.
This exhibition inaugurates the Arton Foundation’s move to its new premises on 11 Miedziana Street in the Mirów area (it was formerly situated in Soho in the Praga district). The internationally-inclined Doing the Impossible Light exhibition is devoted to film and features both archival and contemporary works by Rosa Barba, Karl Holmqvist, Łukasz Jastrubczak, Anna Kutera, Paweł Kwiek and Anthony McCall. The curators Florian Zeyfang and Marika Kuźmicz stated: “The artists question such features of film as narrative, the possibility of multiple playbacks, and the sequential order of scenes”. Therefore, the show does not feature film projections. Instead we can see films turned into material objects with encoded content and records of ephemeral actions, such as spoken films and even films created without a camera.
Foksal Gallery Foundation
The Foksal Gallery Foundation will present a solo exhibition by one of Poland’s most famous artists, Piotr Uklański, who at the beginning of the 1990s, after graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, emigrated to the USA, where he lives and works today. Uklański often uses “borrowings” (putting someone else's works into his own). He’s interested in clichés in contemporary visual culture, playing with kitsch items and elements of mass culture. He often reflects on the dark iconography of death, crossing taboo borders and provoking the viewer by incorporating things like photos from pornographic magazines.
The Profile Foundation will present two Russian artists, Elena Elagina and Igor Makarevich, who created an alternative conceptualist movement in 1970s Moscow. They were part of Сollective Undertakings, a group who conducted performances. “In their projects from 1990 onwards, Elagina and Makarevich perversely referred to the downfall of Russian art, culture and political myths,” explain Bożena Czubak and Natalia Gonczarowa, the curators of the exhibition. At the Profile Foundation, the artists will present a new version of their installation Mushrooms of the Russian Avant-Garde, which ironically refers to iconic works by Russian avant-garde artists in contemporary culture.
At Robert Maciejuk's solo exhibition in Le Guern Gallery, his newest works will be on view – paintings, drawings and objects. The main theme of the exhibition is the artist's search for painting conventions. In his abstract and figurative works, Maciejuk focuses on sceneries, landscapes and ornamental vignettes taken from religious paintings and prints.
The heroes of Igor Przybylski's exhibition Československa Moderná are the modernist railway stations of former Czechoslovakia. In his series of photographs presented at m2 Gallery, the artist focuses on Hawierzów (Havířov) railway station, constructed from 1964 to 69 and designed by local architect Josef Hrejsemnou. In 2014, when the city council decided to destroy the building, local architects and activists tried to save this interesting example of the so-called Brussels style of architecture. "The Brussels style comes from the huge success of the Czechoslovakian pavilion at the World Expo in Brussels in 1958. The pavilion, besides many small awards, received the Golden Star for best expo,” says Elżbieta Chmiel from Důl Architektury, the association fighting against the destruction of the station.
During Warsaw Gallery Weekend, the city’s youngest gallery, Kasia Michalski, will present a solo exhibition by Katarzyna Mirczak called Otchłanie (“Abysses”). The starting point is the polysomnograph that the artist conducted on herself at the Sleep Disorders Centre at the Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology in Warsaw. From a whole night of monitoring physical parameters (EEG, EKG, EMG, EOG, oxygen levels in the blood, and torso movements), a detailed document was made: a profile of the artist's sleep.
Kohana is another gallery that was established in Warsaw only this year. Marta Czyż, the art director, says that the gallery concentrates on abstract art. During WGW, the gallery will present a solo exhibition by Piotr Grabowski, an artist dealing with graphic design, making videos, objects and installations. Grabowski will show new works themed around intoxication, the kind that causes visions and leads to trance, and how people's dependence on chemical substances has always been a significant element of creating and maintaining cultural values.
Leto Gallery will present the newest series of paintings by Radek Szlaga called All the Brutes. The name of the series refers to Heart of Darkness, the classic 1899 novel by Joseph Conrad, which is seen as a criticism of colonialism and an analysis of the unpredictability of human nature. The universal and still-relevant message of the book has been the basis for many critical reinterpretations. In his paintings, Szlaga takes from the numerous references to Conrad's protagonists and motives already promulgated across contemporary art. He creates his own definition of the contemporary visuals which have dominated through an excess of undetermined information based mostly on constantly reworked existing ideas and motives. The exhibition All the Brutes will be the first Leto event at their new location on 3/14 Lwowska Street.
Szpula Energetyczna is the third exhibition by Józef Robakowski in lokal_30. It includes previously unseen materials created in the 1980s as a result of the artist's fascination with and friendships from the punk scene in Łódź. There will be music videos created by the artist for the legendary band Moskwa and photos taken during the artist's encounters with the band’s frontman, Gumola, who often boasted that his crew played the fastest music in Poland.
Lookout Gallery will present Diana Lelonek’s newest series of photographs: Yesterday I Met a Really Wild Man. The series questions the image of the world in which humans occupy a central, privileged position. "The naturists who pose for her photographs are shown in a way that brings to mind representations of herds of animals, or primal nomadic tribes usually depicted surrounded by nature,” explains curator Katarzyna Różniak. “In the background, elements of modern urban architecture or industrial infrastructure rule out the vision of a return to nature. The artist selects places in-between, in which the suburbs of cities and civilization are taken over by synanthropic vegetation."
Monopol will present works from three artists, namely Jacek Sempoliński, Mikołaj Smoczyński and Bartosz Kokosiński, that will all be in a project ‘directed’ by another artist, Robert Kuśmirowski. The paintings, photographs and painted objects juxtaposed together will be a witness to their three approaches to art. A set of wooden forms displayed by Smoczyński at Kuśmirowski's studio will complement the exhibition.
The new premises of the Piktogram Gallery (now 9 Kredytowa Street, formerly Soho in the Praga district) will host the first solo exhibition in Poland of works by Dorota Jurczak. Her works have previously been on view in such prestigious places as Vanabbemuseum in Eindhoven, Tate Modern in London, and the 4th Berlin Biennial for Contemporary Art. Her newest pieces presented by Piktogram include paintings, sculpture, dolls and graphics.
Pola Magnetyczne will present works by Emil Cieślar, who the curators say “plays with colours the way one plays with music.” It will be the first exhibition of works the artist has been developing for over 30 years, all based on colour theory. The exhibition will feature paintings, objects, installations and Star Music, a metaphoric melody evoking outer space that has been a work in progress since 2010.
Propaganda Gallery will be promoting the unusual artistic duet Kijewski & Kocur, created by Marek Kijewski and Małgorzata Malinowska. Starting their careers in the 1980s as separate artists, they worked from 1995 until 2007, when Kijewski passed away. The exhibition Złoty Strzał (“The Golden Shot”) during Warsaw Gallery Weekend will present selections from their rich and diverse catalogue of works.
Raster will show the newest creations of one of the most outstanding contemporary sculptors in Poland, namely Olaf Brzeski. "The artist, with great creativity, reinterprets the tradition and possibilities of sculpture,” say the curators. “He is interested both in material traits (weight, surface, and simple potential), and the ability or non-ability to describe states or history through certain matter.” The works of a young Canadian artist, Laurie Kang, will be on view at the same time as Brzeski's exhibition. This will be her first solo exhibition in Poland.
Starter Gallery presents a solo show by Mikołaj Moskal, the central theme of which is the relationship between colours drawn from nature. The series of paintings called Cool Grey Meets Neutral Black is “a story about seeing and perception, about translating stimuli into simple forms and colours. It can also be understood as an exercise in painting from nature or a test of spatial relationships,” says Zofia Maria Cielątkowska. “Although we are not sure how perception works exactly, the meeting of cold grey with neutral black has surely taken place at least once. Its aura and appeal are what remains today.”
Stereo Gallery will present a solo exhibition by Wojciech Bąkowski, a visual artist, poet and musician. The main attraction of the exhibition will be his newest film: Analysis of Emotions and Vexations. The video is made up of stop-motion sequences, in which static shots drawn with a pencil are accompanied by the artist's voice. Bąkowski consistently puts the viewer in the role of listener as he reveals himself and tries to talk to people in order to find common words, images and feelings.
Accompanying panel discussion: First We Take Manhattan
The discussion panel First We Take Manhattan will take place at CSW Zamek Ujazdowski at 3pm on 26 September 2015. The discussion will be about whether Polish art can conquer New York, and whether it should even attempt to do so. The panelists discussing Polish art in a global context will be Sarah Douglas, editor-in-chief of the NY magazine ARTnews, and Łukas Gorczyca from Raster Gallery in Warsaw. It is organised by Culture.pl, the flagship brand of the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, in association with Art & Business and CSW.