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AS YOU CAN SEE: POLISH ART TODAY, Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, Poland

14.02 - 31.08.2014

Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw
Emilii Plater 51
00-124 Warsaw

Curators: Sebastian Cichocki, Łukasz Ronduda

“As You Can See: Polish Art Today” is the first show of current Polish art spanning such range for more than a decade. It centres around important works, attitudes, and themes commented on by visual artists over recent years.

We have purposely reached for the conservative format of an artistic salon, shifting the centre of gravity from exhibition experiments to artworks themselves, whilst allowing the salon itself to be particular: critical, emancipatory, psychedelic, occasionally brutal and perverse, dense and ambiguous.

The exhibition was designed as a guidebook facilitating the journey across the territory of current art phenomena. It was created with a broad audience interested in contemporary culture in mind. It focuses on a specific time and place, and is being held at a rather specific moment: several years after Polish art stabilised its position internationally, and simultaneously to the process of Polish artistic institutions becoming professionalised and rather radical. The current set of circumstances seems to be a dream come true for previous generations of artists, whose presence in the field of art often tied in with a struggle for the shape and form of the art institution, and for the artist’s position in society. The situation itself, however, does not resolve all problems: paradoxically, it leads to the creation of new tensions between institutions and artists, and artists and audiences, respectively.

The exhibition focuses on how artists define their social role and obligations to a viewer, and how they negotiate their relations with institutions. As You Can See: Polish Art Today is a review of forms of seeing and perception, of desire, of being together and being alone, of understanding reality, and of relating to the past and future. The exhibition relates both to the artists’ private space and developing relations with objects of everyday use or with architecture, and to the – ever-unconquered – territory of social change, to attempts at modifying the world with tools of art put to use.

The “As You Can See: Polish Art Today” exhibition traces the current moment in the Polish art scene by grouping artworks and art phenomena into a series of narrations. A distinctly pronounced motive is that of avant-garde strategies having been exhausted and replaced by a search for inspiration in areas which could have previously been considered “compromised”: non-professional art, crafts, or academism. “Bourgeois” art, contemporary graphics, and extra-urban art (contemporary folk art, created contrary to recent opinions that contemporary art is a purely urban phenomenon) have all been gaining new allies.

Throughout the exhibition, the Emilia pavilion shall be gazing at the city with huge eyes wide open, an object of unique anthropomorphisation (Paulina Ołowska’s glass paintings in a reference to Jerzy Kolecki’s posters). The exhibition centres around what you can see, on how you see it, and on what becomes visible through and in art.

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