RASTER Gallery (Warsaw, Poland)
in RENTAL GALLERY (Los Angeles)
co-presented by the Polish Cultural Institute in New York
IS IT BETTER TO BE A GOOD ARTIST
OR A GOOD PERSON?
Artists: Azorro, Agata Bogacka, Michał Budny, Rafał Bujnowski, Hubert Czerepok & Zbigniew Rogalski, Tom Dale, Oskar Dawicki, Sławomir Elsner, Aneta Grzeszykowska & Jan Smaga, Igor Krenz, Zbigniew Libera, Marcin Maciejowski, Bartek Materka, Wilhelm Sasnal.
curated by Lukasz Gorczyca & Michal Kaczynski
Exhibition lasts until May 13
Tom Dale, Ball with Wheel, 2005
The exhibition "Is It Better to Be a Good Artist or a Good Person?" is a show of artists represented by the Warsaw-based RASTER gallery. Beyond that, it is a presentation of a specific spirit that imbues Raster's activities: friendships, collective activities of the artists, and a kind of art that questions and analyzes its own role, its rationale, and its ethics.
Our focus is on the figure of the artist as a regular or even average man. It's not just by chance that the exhibition is dominated by portraits and self-portraits of artists. Their authors reflect upon the mission of the contemporary artist and his place in society, but they also share their doubts regarding their own art's power to influence. Hence, the action of the exhibition takes place between the lure of engaged art and a feeling of the social marginalization of their own art - between a longing for full freedom and the beauty of artistic form, and the basic existential limits of human existence. It is an exhibition where "pure" art collapses into pure life.
Many works presented in the exhibition - like "Advertising Project" by Oskar Dawicki, the films by Igor Krenz, or the photos by the Azorro Group from the set of the film "Karol, The Man Who Became Pope" - have a specific aura characteristic of a cheerfully "domesticated" anarchism. Referring to the strategy of conceptual art and taking into consideration the actual socio-political situation, the artists propose a "third way" - creating private zones of freedom. Raster shows works which reveal their anarchistic nature in yet another way: these are works - like the paintings of Rafal Bujnowski - that use accident as their formative force, or - like "Ball with Wheel" by Tom Dale - objects based on the absurd and a sense of humor, which is usually characteristic of ordinary people, but not always of artists.
Special thanks to Kaavous Clayton for the inspired sentence that became the title of the show.
Rafał Bujnowski, from Colonies series, 2006,
oil on canvas, 45 x 45 cm
WORKS IN THE EXHIBITION
The title drawing, "Is It Better to Be a Good Artist or a Good Person?," is a well-known surrealistic game - exquisite corpse - in which subsequent participants continue a composition without knowing what their predecessors have drawn. This time, the participants in the game are the participants in the exhibition at the Rental gallery. Authors in the order of drawing: Slawomir Elsner, Bartek Materka, Agata Bogacka, Zbigniew Rogalski, Rafal Bujnowski, Marcin Maciejowski, Michał Budny, Oskar Dawicki, Aneta Grzeszykowska & Jan Smaga.
Rafal Bujnowski, Broniewski, 2005
Negative portrait of Wladyslaw Broniewski (1897-1962), an outstanding Polish proletarian poet corrupted after World War II by the Communist authorities. The protrait, drawn with chalk on a childrens' schoolboard, was created for the exhibition "Broniewski" organized by Raster in 2005.
Zbigniew Libera, Broniewski, 2005
A photographic work realized within the framework of the "Broniewski" project depicts its participants - artists, musicians, and curators - as if transported into the 1920s, when a leftist artistic avant-garde and communist opposition developed in Poland.
"Karol: the Man Who Became Pope" is a 2005 feature movie directed by Giacomo Battiato. It tells the story of Karol Wojtyła from the outbreak of World War II until the day he is elected pope. The movie's premiere showing on Italian TV gathered an audience of 14 million. In Poland, the movie was shown in cinemas and was a box office hit, attracting 1.9 million viewers. The members of the group Azorro took part in the movie as extras. Their purpose was to claim the movie as their work. They thus appropriated it for art. As the movie depicts the most tragic period in the history of 20th century Europe, the group decided to play both the victims and the persecutors. Les Figurants is the French for "extras". The Azorro have become the extras of history - its figureheads.
With a pinch of irony, Azorro deals with the delicate issue of assessing contemporary art, the state of institutions responsible for exhibiting, and the position of the artist. The conventionality and deceptiveness of language is another major subject taken up by Azorro. They are sharp-witted, aiming at challenging the established norms, willing to think critically and in a quite bothersome and perverse way. Their sense of humor and good acting are their additional strengths.
A series of black-and-white photographs from a beach in Barcelona at which two young artists take up the role of priests. Their mutual closeness and unnaturally long cassocks, and the "devil's mill" in the background, lend the situation a special dramaturgy.
A self-portrait of the artists in the puzzle of a modernistic interior. "Apartment" is composed of 18 building blocks with photographs glued to them which depict particular elements of the interior: floors, walls, windows. The whole comprises the model of a two-level apartment. Building the model, we close its photographic image inside - the blocks are white on their outside, and the final stage of the building blocks is an abstract, geometrized white solid.
Aneta Grzeszykowska, Untitled #14, 2005
A photographic portrait, generated in Photoshop, of an non-existent woman. A simple attempt to challenge the inflation of the image of man and the meaning of a single life.
The artist hangs his newest works in abandoned interiors and nooks and puts them on fire. This way, a particular, symbolic process unfolds of exposing the painting to the destructive influence of reality and the artist's private emotions.
A special, limited series of 6 posters designed by Wilhelm Sasnal for his exhibitions in Raster - those which took place during the last three years and those which will take place in the future (and maybe not), among them: "Concorde is dead" - joint exhibition of Sasnal and Wolfgang Tillmans in Galerie Raster in Berlin in 2007. The work was created in the framework of the project "Cheap Art Fair", realized every year in Raster, the idea of which is to reverse the mechanisms of the art market and sell the artists' works as cheaply as possible.
The newest work of the artist. Organic paintings "painted" with a ball tossed about on a canvas covered with wet paint.
Precise, virtuoso drawing depicting the test explosion of an atomic bomb in the air over an American testing ground.
About the utopian quest for an ideal. A sculpture in which the artist shows his fascination with spherical forms and tries to push things forward.
Video works of Igor Krenz are sparing in both form and content. Their action usually takes place in the artist's studio, against the background of a white wall, where the artist carries out simple, often time-consuming experiments in front of the camera. For example, he tries to shoot a small rock into a tin can using a primitive catapult, and he does so until he eventually succeeds. All his actions take on the aspect of entertainment that scoffs at the flow of time. They are, however, at the same time both insightful and an intelligent games with cognitive rationalism. Filled with enthusiasm, Igor proves that "fire is better than scissors", and that "only the left edge of the screen exists". Using simple movie tricks and a charming sense of humor, Krenz effectively raises doubts in the viewer concerning the most elementary physical facts. At the same time, he challenges, and sometimes even ridicules, the established norms of video art by showing just how strongly the film convention and illusion can shape our ideas, emotions and beliefs.
|PICTURES FOR PRESS:
- Invitation card, image: Azorro, Les Figurants, 2005
- Rafał Bujnowski, from Colonies series, 2006, oil on canvas, 45 x 45 cm
- Bartek Materka, untitled, photography, 2006