Artistry. 100 Years of Polish Sculpture
Art Museum Bourse/National Museum in Riga
Exhibition from the collection of the Centre of Polish Sculpture in Orońsko
26 January – 15 April 2018
Curator: Eulalia Domanowska
Cooperation: Henryk Gac
Participants: Magdalena Abakanowicz, Paweł Althamer, Ewa Axelrad, Sylwester Ambroziak, Mirosław Bałka, Krzysztof M. Bednarski, Michalina Bigaj, Tatiana Czekalska i Leszek Golec, Zbigniew Gostomski, Wojciech Fangor, Miłosz Flis, Władysław Hasior, Jerzy Jarnuszkiewicz, Marek Kijewski i Małgorzata Malinowska "Kocur", Katarzyna Kobro, Bartosz Kokosiński, Jarosław Kozakiewicz, Edward Krasiński, Piotr Kurka, Natalia Lach-Lachowicz, Artur Malewski, Daria Malicka, Sławoj Ostrowski, Jarosław Perszko, Marta Pszonak, Maciej Szańkowski, Karol Szostak, Martyna Szwinta, August Zamoyski, Barbara Zbrożyna, students of the School of Timber Industry
The exhibition shown at the Art Museum Bourse, which is part of the National Museum in Riga, was prepared by the Centre of Polish Sculpture on the basis of the institution’s collection. Out of almost 2000 works, several dozen sculptures, objects, installations and a video film were selected. These works of Polish artists from various generations constitute a representative collection of the Polish sculpture of the 20th century as well as contemporary sculpture.
The Orońsko collection of sculpture has been built for the last 30 years by successive art directors of the institution, as well as by artists and the sculpture circles. We will find here examples of Polish art from the beginning of the 20th century till the present day. The oldest works come from the first decade of the last century and they were made by the classics – Konstanty Laszczka and Stanisław Ostrowski. From the interwar period come the works of such outstanding artists as Katarzyna Kobro, Maria Jarema or August Zamoyski and they are on show in Riga.
The post-war period brings exhibits from the 60s and 70s by Jerzy Jarnuszkiewicz, Barbara Zbrożyna, Magdalena Więcek, showing a turn to modernity. There appear examples of abstract and conceptual sculpture, although it is figuration that remains dominant in the Polish art. The Centre also has works of artists drawing from the tradition of folk art connected with the Kenar Art School in Zakopane, like Stanisław Kulon, Antoni Rząsa and Władysław Hasior. The exhibition in Riga is complemented by works of professors and students of the School of Timber Industry, run by Karol Stryjński in the interwar period, which were borrowed from the collection of the Tatra Museum in Zakopane. The sculptures made in wood epitomize Polish Formism – the first modernist tendency based on European Avant-garde trends: Cubism, Futurism and Expressionism connected with the tradition of the Podhale region traditional sculpture, among others Zbigniew Gostomski, Tadeusz Łodziana and Maciej Szańskowski, whose sculpture from the series of Self-Assembled Works was made in 2016 on the basis of a model produced in 1974 and placed in the Orońsko sculpture Park.
In Riga we are presenting extraordinary works of Wojciech Fangor – one of his first works - the sculptural head of 1949 and spatial structures, created in the 1960s. Let’s remind that Wojciech Fangor is, so far, the only Pole who has had an individual exhibition at the Solomon Guggenheim Museum in New York, organized there in 1970. He was also a pioneer of environment art and op-art painting developed first in France and then in the USA.
Orońsko was the place where another outstanding Polish sculptor worked - Magdalena Abakanowicz. The Coach House Gallery permanently presents her work Ukon from the series War Games made in 1995 in our studios. The current exhibition includes Mutants – a group of hybrid metal creatures which she created in 2000.
One of the highlights of the exhibition is Krzysztof M. Bednarski’s sculpture Victoria-Victoria, made of the noble white Carrara marble during the martial law in Poland and considered a symbol of the public feeling after the pacification of the Solidarity movement. The political transformations at home also result in changes in art after 1989. There appear postmodernist tendencies and the New Expression. Back in the 1980s Orońsko hosted the members of the Neue Bieriemiennost group. In our collection they are represented by the works of Marek Kijewski, Mirosław Filonik and Mirosław Bałka’s extremely expressive Cain. It is here that Sylwester Amroziak worked a little later. In the 90s Orońsko centre organized workshops visited by Grzegorz Kowalski with his famous ‘Kowalnia’ – a group of students from his institute at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. The Polish art scene was dominated by strong artistic individualities initiating a trend of critical art, highly engaging the artists and audience in a socio-political dialogue. They were joined by artists from other circles, practicing a similar trend. In our collection they are represented by works of Grzegorz Klaman, Robert Rumas and Dorota Nieznalska. The small, ceramic portrait of Paweł Althamer also comes from that time. The Centre owns a substantial group of works of the sculpture duo Marek Kijewski and Małgorzata Malinowska ‘Kocur’; since 1996 they were working together, often in the studios of the Centre of Polish Sculpture, till the artist’s death in 2007. Inspired by pop art, their work is in Polish art the most distinct example of using it in the era of post-modernist experiments and reactions to the new reality and new economic-cultural situation that was forming in our country since the early 90s.
In those days, the notion of sculptural art in Poland expanded. Beside the traditionally sculptural forms, there appear artistic objects, spatial and light installations, and finally virtual sculptures, computer animations and performative activities. Exhibitions and works tend to become more and more complex and multifarious. Artists use synesthesia, which is reflected in the Orońsko collection. Among our holdings there emerge works of younger and middle-aged generation which represent diverse tendencies and show interest in the current phenomena of contemporary culture, such as ecology, posthumanism or pacifism. The exhibition includes a part of these new acquisitions: works of Artur Malewski, Martyna Szwinta, Miłosz Flis, Michalina Bigaj or Daria Malicka, whose work Kunszt – Artistry is a motto of the Riga exhibition. They have all participated in the Young Triennial, which is a review of the most promising individuals, initiated by Jan Berdyszak in 1992. We are also showing our latest purchase, a video from the series Friendship, made by Ewa Axelrad , Polish artist living in London. One of the themes recurring in her works is violence observed in interpersonal and social relations and its manifestations in everyday objects. Collecting contemporary art and defining the profile of the collection is a significant and fascinating task. It particularly pertains to the Sculpture Park which is slowly acquiring a contemporary and international character. Its transformation is marked by Jarosław Kozakiewicz’s installation Transition - a walkway laid on the surface on the park pond. Other works include Marta Pszonak’s Teapot, Jarosław Perszko’s neon light installation Two Steps, the mentioned Maciej Szańkowski’s composition from the series Self-Assembled Works, Tony Cragg’s Elliptical Column, Natalia Shymin Déjà vu, and the monumental tambourine The Opera Ain’t Over Till the Fat Lady Sings by Thorsten Goldberg, and others.
The presentation of our collection is supplemented with Róża Fabjanowska and Sławomir Malcharek’s film on the Centre of Polish Sculpture. It introduces this artistic place situated in the 19th century estate belonging to Józef Brandt and tells about its development. During the exhibition, a catalogue will come out prepared jointly by the Centre of Polish Sculpture and the Art Museum Bourse in Riga. The whole project involves an educational programme and a seminar devoted to the Polish modernist and contemporary sculpture which will be held in late February 2018 in Riga.
I would like to thank the Tatra Museum in Zakopane and the Polish History Museum in Warsaw.
 The work comes from the holdings of the Polish History Museum In Warsaw.
 From 13December 1981 to 22 July 1983.
 Synesthesia is the capacity of human imagination to discover connections between the impulses reaching us through various senses.
The exhibition has been organised in partnership with the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, acting under its flagship brand Culture.pl
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The AMI’s Culture.pl portal offers a daily information service covering key events related to Polish culture around the world: In addition to information on events organised in Poland and abroad, the portal features numerous artist profiles, reviews, essays, descriptive articles and information about cultural institutions. Culture.pl, which in 2015 drew more than 4.5 million visitors from around the world, is available in three languages: Polish, English and Russian. In 2015 the portal won the Guarantee of Culture award in the category Culture on the Net.