Zachęta National Gallery, Warsaw: Territories Doubly Regained

Andrzej Tobis, Gazetka ścienna / Post bill, from the A-Z Educational Cabinets series, 2007

Territories Doubly Regained – Three Generations of Art and Society
Agnieszka Le Nart
02.03.2012 – 13.05.2012

Bogdan Łopieński, Andrzej Tobis and Krzysztof Żwirblis are artists who work in three entirely distinct forms of media and with one common goal – to trace the link between art and the everyday world, often blurring the lines between the two

The Zachęta National Gallery brings together the works of three artists across three generations, all of whom have drawn their subject and form from the world around them, in great measure inspired by the collaborative painting of Marek Sobczyk and Jarosław Modzelewski.

Painters Sobczyk and Modzelewski met when they were both students at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts, graduating in 1980 and joining the art group Gruppa (which also included Ryszard Woźniak, Paweł Kowalewski, Ryszard Grzyb and Włodzimierz Pawlak). The group based its interests on the New Expressive and New Wild tendencies that were adrift across Europe in the eighties. Their subject matter was focused around the miserable existence of life under Martial Law. Sobczyk and Modzelewski had quite successful independent careers, yet they also embarked on a collaborative series of paintings, traveling around Poland and Germany, recording their impressions on canvas, while drawing more abstract inspirations from the world around them and the institution of art itself. Some paintings referred to sculpture, others to graphic design – bringing painting into another ideological realm in between genres and media. Overall, form took on the circumstances of the current reality. By working together the artists were forced to make decisions and negotiate what would be included in a particular work, and what would be omitted.

For the current show Zachęta brings together a photo-reporter, a painter whose props are a camera and a German dictionary and a director-performer-and-social activist strive to regain borderlands that have been lost to everyday. Even decades after Poland's borders had been set post-WWII, Poles are still establishing a national identity, which is reflected in both society and in the arts.

Bogdan Łopieński (born 1934) is a photographer whose documentation of the 1st Biennial of Spatial Forms in Elbląg in 1965 recalls the cooperation between technicians and workers from the Zamech Mechanical Works. Together they produced several dozen large metal forms that remain in the town to this day. The event was considered a day of union between artists and labourers and a step in building a new history and Polish identity for the time.

Krzysztof Żwirblis (born 1953) set up a Social Musuem with a unique goal. The project is set in Warsaw, yet instead of celebrating heroes or monuments, the artist puts the spotlight on the city's residents. The artist becomes a social animator and documentarian, encouraging people to share their stories, to create their own art, to organise festivals and meetings to create a collective realm of human relations and creativity.

Andrzej Tobis (born 1970) is an artist based in Katowice. He began his A–Z (Educational Cabinets series in 2006 and has been building upon the project ever since. This extensive series of photographs – only a part has been included in the current show – taken in Upper Silesia, an area on the borderland between Poland and Germany, often caught in the nets of time and political change from communism to democracy. Each photograph is accompanied by an entry and index number from a Polish-German dictionary issued in 1954. The objectivity of definitions clearly gives way to subjectivity in the light of Polish-German relations and political status.

Territories Doubly Regained
opens on the 2nd of March, 2012 at 19:00 and runs through the 13th of May, 2012.

Curator Hanna Wróblewska
Cooperation Magdalena Komornicka

Zachęta National Gallery
Plac Małachowskiego 3, 00-916 Warszawa

Editor: Agnieszka Le Nart

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