press release

Wilhelm Sasnal’s painting is the product of impressions of different kinds that affect the artist not just through his sense of sight. His paintings are situated between a striving to explore reality and the need to interpret its various, often not popular contexts. They concentrate on the techniques of painting and through this also investigates the physiology of vision. They show from what elements a painting emerges, and in what conditions begins the process of seeing and the particular process of ‘becoming’ a painting. This process coincides with a further element that is just as important in the artist’s work: his highly original iconography (photographs, films, comics, music) that cause the world presented in his works to undergo a fragmentation into single events from the field of personal experiences or on the contrary of significant contexts from a “common history” or the space of a society in a particular place and time.

The title of the exhibition, “Years of Struggle”, is a citation from a propaganda film about General Karol Swierczewski, but is also the title of a painting with which the artist struggled for a long time. At the exhibition are presented paintings from the last few years, whose striking stylistic diversity, stretched between figuration and abstraction, takes up a game with a range of the conventions of modernism. In this selection of paintings can be seen the whole spectrum of the themes which are today of interest to the artist.

At the exhibition in Zacheta are shown paintings from the last few years, loaned from the artist’s studio and from collections in Poland and abroad. Their themes demonstrate the major contexts of Sasnal’s work, such as the merging of pre-war modernism with autobiographic elements (the series “Moscice” 2005), years of struggle and war (the series “Partisans” 2005, Kielce – Cracow, 2007), the holocaust (the series of paintings “Maus”, 2001, made on the basis of Art Spiegelman’s comic; “Shoah”, 2003 inspired by Claude Lanzmann’s film and paintings inspired by the prose of Tadeusz Borowski), and the various contexts of post-war life from the time of the Polish People’s Republic and most recent history depicted from a personal perspective. In the series of modernist churches from Tarnow or the portraits of priests (2006), Sasnal portrays the symbolic elements of contemporary Poland that currently dominate reality. At the exhibition will also be present ed numerous portraits and “music paintings” emerging from his fascination with music - portraits of musicians or the recording of the traces of dance (Joey Baron, 2002, Mosh pit, 2006). The exhibition will also present Sasnal’s films “Kodachrome” (2006) and “Concorde” (2003) about the withdrawal of the cult film or the cult plane, “Love Songs” (2005) and “Europa” (2007) inspired by image, texts and music: “Spring” (2006), The Ranch (2006/2007) and “Brasil” (2005) – chance documentation of confrontation with the police.

Wilhelm Sasnal was born in 1972 in Tarnow. From 1992–1994, he studied architecture at the Cracow Techinical University, and from 1994–1999, painting at the Academy of the Fine Arts. He was a co-founder of the no longer in existence Group Ladnie (1995–2001). He is linked to the Foksal Gallery Foundation in Warsaw. He lives and works in Cracow.

The artist has taken part in individual and group exhibitions in, amongst others: Johnen Galerie, Berlin; Hauser & Wirth, Zürich; Anton Kern Gallery, New York; Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, London; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Fundació ”la Caixa”, Espai Montcada, CaixaForum, Barcelona; Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin; Sadie Coles HQ, London; Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt am Main; Fundacja Galerii Foksal, Warsaw; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Bunkier Sztuki, Cracow; Museu Serralves Museu de Arte Contemporânea, Porto; Sommer Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv; Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven; Berkeley Art Museum, Berkeley; Wattis Institute of Arts, San Francisco; MARTa Herford, Herford; Galeria Raster, Warsaw; Camden Arts Centre, London; Galerie Rüdiger Schöttle, Münich; Johnen + Schöttle, Köln; Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Stuttgart; Westfälischer Kunstverein, Münster; Kunsthalle Zürich, Zürich; MuHKA, Antwerp; Rooseum Center for Contemporary Art, Malmö; Kunsthalle Basel, Base l; Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris; Galeria Foksal, Warsaw ; Galeria Awangarda BWA, Wroclaw; Galeria Potocka, Cracow; Centrum Sztuki Wspólczesnej Zamek Ujazdowski, Warsaw; Galeria Zderzak, Cracow; Galeria Otwarta, Cracow. In 2006, Sasnal was awarded the most important European artistic award, The Vincent Award, awarded every two years by the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.

Curator Maria Brewinska

Exhibition Catalogue, Polish/Italian/English versions with contributions by Maria Brewinska, Andrzej Szczerski and Fabio Cavallucci Including also an interview with the artist by curator Maria Brewinska Publisher: Zacheta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw

Wilhelm Sasnal. Years of Struggle
Kurator: Maria Brewinska