030208: Zacheta Narodowa Galeria Sztuki: Wilhelm Sasnal - Years of Struggle

Zacheta Narodowa Galeria Sztuki: Wilhelm Sasnal – Years of Struggle Politics in everyday life No other artist of the young generation in Poland is as popular as Wilhelm Sasnal. He is considered as the Polish Roy Lichtenstein, his works being auctioned at Saatchi’s and Sotheby’s for more than 100.000 euros; while Sasnal is only 35 years old. 2006 must have been the highlight of his career: the Italian edition of Flash Art ranked him as the number one among the 100 most important international artists. And in the same year he received the Vincent Van Gogh Award. Many Polish museums regret not to have bought his work sooner – now only very few can afford to do so. His solo exhibit at the Zacheta Gallery in Warsaw was definitely overdue and shows paintings as well as his video art. Wilhelm Sasnal’s paintings remind of black and white photography. Oftentimes they resemble enlarged comics. Sasnal enjoys using pop colours and compositions, reminding of sentimental as well as atmospheric colour coordination. Everything he paints has a direct connection to what he has experienced, seen, or what he has surrounded himself with. This is the way he wants people to conceive his work. He works with newspaper clippings, articles, videos, photos, and streets. His TV pictures are characterized by a slowed down “replay” effect and are usually zoomed. His choice has no hierarchy: political events are of equal value as personal, everyday happenings. Different themes taken from art as well as art history archives are placed next to one another without any comment. Sasnal’s films, just like his canvas paintings, are always slightly blurred. Important scenes are exposed to light in such a way that the onlooker has difficulty to identify what he is seeing. “Fall 2006” is a film about the incidents going on in Paris that year. A Super 8 silent movie, effectively done in a way that the blurred technique could let the happenings just as well have been 1986 in Prague or 1965 in Budapest. Sasnal chooses reflections in his personal paintings, as in his political pictures, which go beyond the usual stringing together, application and quotations of different motives, forms and styles. “Family”, one of his more personal works is indefinable; the faces have empty spaces, and they cannot be identified. It is unclear if this painting shows his own family or another family. The technique of the picture allows it to come across as both personal as well as universal. It probably has a lot to do with the fact that Sasnal treats his work equally, no matter if he has painted a friend or a stranger. Thereby political and historical questions are given the same importance as everyday happenings. However, this juxtaposition without hierarchy, seemingly without any values, contains a large potential of criticism. Everything that has changed in Poland and in Eastern Europe is symbolically mirrored in his work: a coexistence of different values, ideologies, fashions, styles, and opinions. Zacheta Narodowa Galeria Sztuki, 00-916 Warszawa, pl. Malachowskiego 3, until 02.03.08

Zacheta Narodowa Galeria Sztuki
00-916 Warszawa, pl. Malachowskiego 3
Tel: +48 22 827 58 54, Fax: +48 22 827 78 86

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