artluk nr 2/2017

Paweł Łubowski

December is a month of recollecting the passing year. A lot has happened – including the biggest and most important events in the world: 57th Vennice Biennale and Documenta 14 in Kassel. Like every year there were art fairs to visit, namely the 48th Art Basel and FIAC 2017, and plenty of interesting problematic and individual exhibitions to see, like David Hockney’s retrospective in Tate Britain or Camille Henrot’s in Palais de Tokyo in Paris to name just two. To the best of our ability, we tried to objectively and earnestly relate these events in the Artluk quarterly. And what could be seen in Poland? Numerous exhibition have taken place, but there were no revelations. Even the politically “involved” art does not raise any controversies any more, regardless of the ideological options. It has become merely a staffage of a dramatic reality. Both the public institutions and private galleries in the country have offered a number of shows, not to mention the recurring projects like WRO Land Art Festival or Contexts Festival in Sokołowsko.
This year brought an interesting idea for art to incorporate computer games. During Virtual Garden/PGA (Poznań Game Arena) exhibition organised in Poznań works of art using an element of a game have been combined with a world of digital illusions. The author of that undertaking was Tomasz Wendland, curator of numerous important international events, creator of the Mediations Biennale in Poznań. In the passing year he has curated such events as Osmosis during the 5th Nakanojo Biennale in Japan and Audiovisual Media Festival in Taipei, or Neighbourhood – 7th Hotel de Inmigrantes at Sapir College in Israel. Those curatorial activities convinced our editorial board to award Wendland a Curator of the Year award for the 2017.
Another noteworthy event is the presently most important painting competition in Poland – Bielska Jesień organised by Bielska Gallery BWA – which received the record amount of 2989 submissions.
I remember when in a groundbreaking 1980 the Janusz Spychalski National Painting Competition organised by BWA Gallery in Poznąń also received a record amount of submissions – over 1000 paintings. However, they were “physical”, tangible works, not the digital reproductions. Interestingly, it’s not an easy task to judge a painting by its photo, thus the verdicts made by Jury might be inaccurate after the first round of elimination. What’s positive is the fact that despite rumours of its imminent demise painting is still doing well. Many young artists choose painting as their way of expression, even though it’s not an easy one as it requires manual skills and mastering the techniques.
Artluk strives to help art students at the beginning of their difficult artistic journey. This year the Artluk Prize (a distinction of a patron magazine), awarded since 2007 during Bielska Jesień, has been granted to Joanna Kaucz, an artist from Wrocław. Nowadays we can offer a vast presentation of the oeuvre of young artists on our pages. In the past the money Artluk made allowed to fund scholarships for the rising artists. That’s behind us, the times are different, but even so the 2017 can be considered a good year. Will the 2018 be full of artistic experiences? That’s what we wish to ourselves and to all our Readers.
On the cover:
Joanna Kaucz, untitled, a fragment, oil on canvas, 2017. Photo: M. Pietrzak, from the author’s archive

Piotr Wełmiński

This year the Artluk Award has been given to a young artist from Wrocław – Joanna Kaucz, a graduate of and a teacher at the Academy of Fine Arts in Wrocław. Her boldly painted works form the Games with Weapons series caught the attention foremost thanks to references to allegorical paintings. In order to get into the spotlight young artists are competing in creating styles calculated to raise disgust, repugnance, even leading to turpism. In spite of that trend Joanna Kaucz created paintings that not only are aesthetic and technically well done, but also draw from a tradition of painting, redefine it and adapt its contents to the present times. Paweł Łubowski, Artluk’s editor-in-chief, has written in the verdict: ‘The works of Joanna Kaucz show us the advantage painting holds over new disciplines of art. Interpretative possibilities of painting are much broader thanks to age-old tradition, which has been considered a disadvantage but in Joanna Kaucz’s works becomes the opposite. What can we see? A modern version of a Venus and Cupid. Requisites have changed, but it still is an allegory of love, albeit one expanded with the experiences of a modern world. We can also see hatred, disdain toward “others” – the feelings tearing our reality’.
Joanna Kaucz in her own way, with a little dose of irony, shows the world in a few levels of interpretation. On the canvases and in the drawings we see scenes preserved with a photorealistic precision, populated by figures (primarily the artist’s self-portraits) and objects-attributes frequently present in the painting tradition. However, they are not bows, arrows, apples, roses nor musical instruments. In the Vincent’s painting from 2014 they are facial masks worn by three Graces – goddesses of beauty, joy and grace – looking at themselves in the mirror. Are they preparing for a meeting with Aphrodite? Or maybe for one with Dionysus, to join his procession to the Olympus?
Joanna Kaucz, "Vincent’s", oil on canvas, 2014.
Joanna Kaucz, from "the Games with Weapons 1 series", acrylic on canvas, 2017. Artluk Award, Bielska Jesień 2017.
Photo: M. Pietrzak, the author’s archive

Agnieszka Kluczewska

100 % Afriques. Under that slogan, in March 2017 in the Grand Halle de La Villette in Paris, a festival of the culture of a modern Africa has begun. Or, to be precise, a festival of culture of modern Africas – because that is how, in a plural form, the organisers and participating artists wanted to present that continent. The festival opened with the Metropolis Afrique Capitales exhibition showcasing artists from more than a dozen African countries, from Egypt to RSA, but also the artists with ties to Europe, United States or Brasil. Simon Njami, the curator, prepared as well a second ‘part’ of the exposition Vers le Cap de la Bonne Espérance, available from April to September in the hall of a former train station Gare Saint-Sauveur in Lille.
At the end of March new African art was available for people to see and buy at the Art Paris Art Fair 2017. At the end of April Fondation Lous Vuitton – one of the most prestigious venues in Paris, currently holding a presentation of works from the MoMA in New York – inaugurated Art/Afrique, le Nouvel Atelier exhibition, which consisted of three parts. The first one, Les Initiés, was devoted to Jean Pigozzi’s African collection. The second one, Être là, brought into the spotlight Republic of South Africa art scene. The third one showed a selection of works from the Fondation’s collection. Les Initiés was curated by Suzanne Pagé, the Fondation’s artistic director, and André Magnin in cooperation with the owner of the collection. Être là has been arranged by  Pagé and Angéline Scherf.
The ‘African Season’ in Paris, celebrated even in the Galeries Lafayette, additionally included an exhibition of works from Barbier-Mueller collection, organised as a part of Biennale des Antiquaires, as well as Picasso Primitif (in Musée du Quai Branly) and Dada Africa (in Musée de l’Orangerie) expositions. By the end of the year the ‘Season’ concludes in almost a symbolical manner with Mali Twist, a monographic exhibition of the classic of photography, Malick Sidibe, prepared by André Magnin and Brigitte Ollier for the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain.
Where does that sudden interest in, even a fashion for, modern African art stems from? It’s hard to describe it as discovering it. The artists exhibited in Paris have been present on the international art scene for a long time. What’s more, they have been on it thanks to, among other reasons, previous efforts of collectors and curators of the above-mentioned exhibition – Pigozzi, Magnin, Njami – which certainly is not a matter of coincidence. How did the path of artists from Africa to the Parnassus, a path they have chosen in the 1960s when colonial era was ending, look like? It begun with the Premier Festival Mondial des Art Nègres –  The First World Festival of Negro Arts that took place in 1966 in Dakar (thanks to the initiative of Lépold Sédar). Artists, intellectuals and politicians, both from the continent and diaspora, gathered there have called for a return to tradition and for affirmation of négritude as a condition necessary for the development of African art. L’art nègre. Sources, évolution, expansion exhibition, prepared by an international team under the direction of Georges Henri Rivière, was an illustration of these traditions. The continuation of ‘African presence’ policy is, since 1992, DAK’ART – Biennale de l’Art Africain Contemporain in Dakar, which last year was curated by none other than Simon Njami.
1. Zanele Muholi, ‘Nolwazi II, Nuoro, Italy’, 2015, Somnyama Ngonyama series. Zanele Muholi, Collection de la Fondation Louis Vuitton.
2. Kudzanai Chiurai, ‘Genesis [Je n’isi isi] XI, 2016. Collection de la Fondation Louis Vuitton.
Photo: A. Kluczewska’s archive

Alexandra Hołownia

The presentation of modern Chinese art in Guggenheim Museum in New York lasts until January 7, 2017. It includes 150 works created between 1989 and 2008 by 70 artists, well-known and unknown alike. The title of the exhibition was not only a reference to the Tiananmen Square student protest of 1989, which ended with a massacre, but also placed China in the centre of worldwide affairs. In the same time in Europe a global network of hypertext documents allowing for a fast, global flow of information – the World Wide Web – has been born. The Berlin Wall fell. Chinese artists participated in development of many cultural and intellectual movements. The Chinese art, received so far mostly locally, after 1989 had gathered international recognition.
The controversial showcase of Chinese art at Guggenheim Museum attracts crowds of visitors. The reason behind its publicity were critical articles in American press and petitions of international animal rights groups protesting against using animals to create works of art. I myself signed a petition by Avaaz organisation that requested to remove any exhibits diminishing the dignity of animals. It concerned, among others, an installation including 8 American Pit Bulls titled Dogs That Cannot Touch Each Other (2003) by a Beijing couple Peng Yu and Sun Yuan. The dogs separated by walls of glass were forced to run on a fast moving treadmill. Trained for fights, excited by the constant view of their rivals, they could never meet. New Yorkers were not as keen as Chinese to admire frustration and whines of tormented dogs.
Among other rejected works was one with copulating piglets – A Case Study of Transference (1994) by New York based Xu Bing. The artists marked the piglets’ skin with letters of Chinese alphabet. ‘Pigs are completely uncivilised. Chinese letters on the other hand are an expression of the utmost civilisation…’, explained the artist.
Liu Xiaodong, “A Burning Rat”, oil on canvas, 1998.He Juxing’s collection. Photo: A. Hołownia

Katarzyna Jeleń
About Bielska Jesień 2017 and more

‘Art contests and art schools are tools used for training artists in a circus of culture. The result are creators alienated from their works, from their internal creative motivations.’
Jerzy Truszkowski
The next day there was a guided tour during which the jury presented their own interpretations of selected works, and asked each of the artists for a brief comment. Only then we could fully understand intentions of the creators and some of the paintings that previously seemed mediocre unveiled their depth and hidden ‘beauty’. Ha! Even the jury can be wrong. Paintings of one of the awarded artists – Marek Rachwalik – have been summed up with a sentence: ‘for creativity and diligence in trying to translate computer medium into painting’. A day later the artist admitted that his muse is music – heavy metal music in particular.
Nowadays we are used to a conceptual approach to art understood in traditional categories. Artists try to think out of the box, reach beyond painting, which they themselves suggested during a discussion titled ‘Between painting and Painting’. This discussion also allowed young artists to express their fears and hopes regarding their artistic activities. We are not surprised by a growing number of multimedia artists. Some of the participants postulated going beyond painting and expanding formula of the contest by adding such elements as performance and video. It’s a well-known fact that each artist tries to overcome their own limitations because it’s hard to endure the postmodern world telling you ‘nothing you’ll make will surprise me any more’. Getting lost in one’s own excessive creativity can lead to losing the meaning and essence of painting.
1. Katarzyna Frankowska, Alma Frankowska Mater or Capitoline, acrylic on canvas, 2017.
2. Karolina Balcer, The Rainbow Sejm, acrylic on canvas, 2016.
Photo: Bielska Gallery BWA press release

Joanna Sitkowska-Bayle
FIAC 2017

FIAC or the International Art Fair was held this year in Paris for the 44th time. One hundred ninety three galleries from thirty countries showcased the most relevant artists of the international art scene. This year’s edition, to a greater extent than the past ones, was dominated by works of an undeniable market value because almost the whole top of the greatest galleries and the best art dealers in the world gathered in Paris.
Compared to the previous years there was a negligible amount of conceptual, minimal or op-art works, as well as not as much abstract art as before. The presence of usually easily recognisable representatives of American pop-art was also quite modest. As always the galleries did not bring a lot of sculptures and installations, however, this time they also brought less photography. The latter has come to Paris almost a month after FIAC, in November during Paris Photo – the most important and the most interesting art fair devoted to photography in the world.
Eclecticism typical for most of such fairs confirmed that a tendency to blur differences between such events grows stronger with every year. Even though we are still a long way from all of them being completely uniform, many market observers highlighted the increasing cosmopolitanism of European art fairs. For example, at both FIAC and Artissima in Turin foreign galleries constitute 70 % of participants. The only exceptions are Arte Fiera in Italy and Art Cologne in Germany which happen to attract a growing number of local galleries.
Niki de Saint Phalle, ‘Lili ou Tony’, mixed technique, 1965.Photo: André Morin, courtesy of Galerie Georges-Philippe & Nathalie Vallois, FIAC 2017 press release

Agnieszka Szkopek

The exhibition by Andrzej Dudek-Dürer "Time" in the FOTO-GEN Gallery of the Culture and Art Center (9.11-2.12.2017) was certainly one of the most interesting events of the current gallery season in Wrocław. The curator of the exhibition was Dr. Adam Sobota, a historian and expert on photography, also a curator of photography collections at the National Museum in Wrocław and author of the numerous studies and books on the subject of photographic medium. The title of the exhibition, according to the curator's description related to the characteristic and essence of the artist's work. Among the exhibited 70-piece collection of the photographic works, graphics, collages, installations and videos, we could examin and witness the sum of the artist's work from the late 1960s up to the present day.
The exhibition space has been divided into three parts. The first one included the earliest works of the artist from 1969 to 1980s. We could see there graphics and photographs reflecting the  transformation which took place inside the artist - initially, the creative work emerged as a consequence of the traumatic experience of losing the loved ones, and of the reincarnation experience. In 1969, the artist discovered in himself the consciousness of Albrecht Dürer.  
Translation Joel Fisher-Fishering
Andrzej Dudek-Dürer, „Art of Shoes” in N.Y.C. 1969 1990, live sculpture, photography, solwentography on canvas, 100 x 70cm. Since 1969, the author has been realizing the life-performance of The Art of Shoes - Trouser Art - Andrzej Dudek-Dürer's Art of Living Sculpture in the Places in which it appears ...

Magdalena Furmanik-Kowalska

From the middle of October 2017 up until beginning of January 2018 a small but interesting exhibition of Xing Danwen (b. 1967) is available to the audience in the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw. Xing Danwen studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Xi’an and later continued her education at a prestigious Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. In the 1980s she has taken an interest in photography, which became her artistic medium and a personal journal.
The Museum presents selected works (over 140 from 250 photos) from A Personal Diary series created from 1993 to 2003. Title of the series has been replaced with a Polish translation – Dziennik (‘Journal’). The photos show both open, artistic events, often available only to a handful of people, and social meetings of Chinese painters, performers, musicians, directors etc. Most of them have been taken in a Dashanzhuang village near Beijing, called by artists who live there the East Village, in reference to New York’s neighbourhood inhabited by bohemia. The Journal is far from the objectivity of a textbook art history. In the materials about the exhibition we can read that ‘it’s a very personal account of the life of Chinese independent culture in the end of the 20th century. A culture that has been forced underground after the events of June 1989 [the Tiananmen Square Massacre – M.F-K.]. It’s a story of incredibly strong creative and personal relations, a story of people who broadened the field of freedom within the political regime’.
The selection of photos for the exhibition have been made by Magda Lipska, the curator, and as she said ‘supplemented with suggestions of Danwen herself, who – among other things – insisted not to limit it to visual arts only’. For me as an art historian, the most interesting are artistic actions that happened in the 1990s in East Village. However, all of them are of high artistic merit. It seems though that for the initiators of the exhibition, as suggested by the subtitle Chinese Avant-Garde 1993-2003, the most important is the documentary aspect. Unfortunately the subtitle is a bit misleading and requires a clarification. The exhibition showcases mostly photos from 1993 to 1996. What’s more, during that time, in other Chinese cities (Chengdu and Shanghai to name only two) and villages the next equally important, ‘avant-garde’ artistic events have taken place. In the Beijing itself, already at the turn of 1970s and 1980s, events that could be described in similar terms (i.e. actions of the No Name Group) had occurred.
Zhang Huan and Ma Liuming, ”The Third Contact”, 1995. Photo: MSN in Warsaw press release

5 2017’Paweł Łubowski

6 “Art and China after 1989”
in the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
in New York
Ars Animalis, part 1
Alexandra Hołownia

10 An Era of Art Fairs
Fridge Art Fair Miami Beach 2017
Ars Animalis, part 2
Alexandra Hołownia

12 100% of Africa (in Paris)
Agnieszka Kluczewska

16 Paris Photo 2017
Joanna Sitkowska-Bayle

20 A Dog’s Life
Alicja Rekść

24 Fiac 2017
Joanna Sitkowska-Bayle

29 What Lies in the Eyes of a Gorgon?
Piotr Wełmiński

36 The Bowels of Life Enclosed in a Terrarium
Agnieszka Domańska

38 Against, Thus For
Jerzy Olek

44 A Record of an Epoch or a Work of Art?
Magdalena Furmanik-Kowalska

48 Illusions Game
Andrzej Mazurkiewicz

50 Stanisław Sacha Stawiarski

52 Documenta 14
An Epilogue
Alexandra Hołownia

54 “What Have You Done!”
or Wrocław’s Academy of Fine Arts
according to Tomasz Broda

56 Is It Worth to Explain Painting?
Katarzyna Jeleń

62 Passages and Permeations
in a Labyrinth of Non-Places
Wojciech Sternak

64 About the “Znak”i Exhibition in Gallery XX1
Agnieszka Maria Wasieczko

70 The Time Stopped
Agnieszka Szkopek

72 Wratislavia pro Bratislava
Bratislava pro Wratislavia
Prof. Marek Jakubek

74 The Colours of Matter
Krystyna Cybińska

76 The Newest Impression of Marcinkowski,
or on Waves, Waving and Invariable
Waldemar Wierzba

78 The Magic of Sylwester Łachacz’s Landscapes
or “The Master and Margarita”
Jacek Kasprzycki

80 From Tradition to Modernity
Between the Analogue
and Virtual Worlds