Agata Pyzik

  • Paulina Ołowska, Seducer, 2020, oil on canvas, 67 × 43 1/4". From “Wages for Housework.”

    “Wages for Housework”

    Although the exhibition “Wages for Housework” (featuring works by Paulina Ołowska, Agata Słowak, and Natalia Załuska) took place in an airy pavilion high above Warsaw’s city center with views of the whole metropolis, it turned this cozy space into the stuff of nightmares: a stuffy bourgeois little salon where you started feeling queasy as soon as you walked in. Wages for Housework was a campaign launched in 1972 at the National Women’s Liberation Conference in Manchester, UK, where American activist Selma James collaborated with Italian Marxist feminists Mariarosa Dalla Costa and Silvia Federici

  • Ahmed Cherkaoui, Autoportrait en larmes (Self-Portrait in Tears), 1961, oil on jute on canvas, 25 5⁄8 × 17 3⁄4".

    “Ahmed Cherkaoui in Warsaw: Polish-Moroccan Artistic Relations (1955–1980)”

    There is something intrinsically ambivalent about Western art history “discovering” forgotten or marginalized artists. But what happens when this kind of “discovery” is made in a country, such as Poland, that is itself considered peripheral? “Ahmed Cherkaoui in Warsaw: Polish-Moroccan Artistic Relations (1955–1980)” nominally focuses on the eponymous pioneer of abstract art in Morocco, and reflects more widely on the relationship between the margins. Not long after Morocco gained its independence in 1956, Cherkaoui relocated to Paris, where he studied at the École des Métiers d’Art before

  • Louisa Gagliardi, Apples and Oranges, 2020, ink and gel medium on PVC, 70 7⁄8 × 44 1⁄8".

    Louisa Gagliardi

    A funny thing happened on my way to see Louisa Gagliardi’s exhibition “Raincheck”: I got lost in my own city. I’m born Warsovian, but the urban environment changes incredibly quickly. The district of Wola in western Warsaw, where Galeria Dawid Radziszewski is located, used to be industrial and working-class, but skyscrapers and office blocks seem to have been erected almost overnight, leaving just snippets of the old streetscape between them. The gallery is located in a cluster of new luxury “yuppiedrome” tower blocks and in trying to find it one could easily enter a gym, a beauty salon, or a

  • Karol Radziszewski, Hyacinth, 2019, acrylic on canvas, 78 3⁄4 × 118 1⁄8".

    Karol Radziszewski

    The past decade in Poland has witnessed a sexual revolution in reverse: The increasingly conservative Polish government, which turned staunchly right wing in 2015, chose the LGBTQ community as its handpicked public enemy number one. Never particularly welcome in Polish society regardless of the regime, LGBTQ people are now targets of relentless negative state propaganda. The Polish situation has come to mirror the American culture wars of the 1980s, with art shows at public institutions targeted for inappropriate content funded by “taxpayers’ money.” That Karol Radziszewski’s midcareer retrospective,

  • View of “Agnieszka Brzeżańska: World National Park,” 2019–20.
    picks February 03, 2020

    Agnieszka Brzeżańska

    Entering Agnieszka Brzeżańska’s exhibition “World National Park” evokes the feeling of having shut yourself off in a peculiar art sanctuary-sanatorium. While more scientific minds might initially be put off by the Polish artist’s applied aesthetics—Brzeżańska’s work often incorporates elements of Gaia and is here full of references to mandalas and variously uprooted religious, New-Agey symbols—it is worth persisting. The late-eighteenth-century palace of Królikarnia was modeled after Andrea Palladio’s Villa Rotonda in Vicenza, Italy, and built by Charles Thomatis, Count de Valery. Using the

  • View of “I’m About to Go Berserk,” 2019. From Left: Zuzanna Janin, Monkey (Femmage a Maria Anto), 2018; Maria Anto, Blue-Eyed, 1975.

    “I’m About to Go Berserk”

    The relationship between mothers and daughters is famously supposed to be crucial for female creativity. In “I’m About to Go Berserk,” whose title is taken from a song by the Polish rock singer Katarzyna Nosowska, eight female artists explored their relationships with their mothers (in a few cases also artists) or looked at the mother-daughter connection more broadly. It was, understandably, an emotionally intense exhibition. Within traditionally patriarchal Polish culture, this bond has been so overlooked there is not even a word to describe it. We have motherhood, but, as in English, hardly

  • Agata Słowak, Love, 2019, oil on canvas, 55 1⁄8 × 44 1⁄4". From “Paint, also known as Blood.”

    “Paint, also known as Blood”

    The title “Paint, also known as Blood” was taken from a memoir by Zenon Kruczyński, a former hunter who at some point recognized the barbarism of killing and began campaigning against the practice. The phrase intimated that suffering, in this case an animal’s, can be eagerly and easily dismissed and rendered as something artificial. Natalia Sielewicz, a rising star in the Polish curatorial scene, who has been pushing a strictly feminist and progressive agenda into the already refreshing program of the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, achieved a new level of insight with this show of recent painting

  • View of “Household Spirit,” 2019.
    picks October 25, 2019

    Dominika Olszowy

    Unlike unhappy families, every unhappy house seems unhappy in the same way. The Surrealists de Chirico and Dalí were among the first artists to exploit the haunted house psychoanalytically, locating the Freudian unheimlich within the most banal, everyday rituals. With the beginning of capitalism in Poland in the 1990s—and with, more specifically, the privatization of housing and the ubiquity of cheap mass-market furniture—a semidetached house with a little garden and a painted plastic gnome encapsulated the national dream. Today, domestic interiors have become even more aspirational, staples of

  • Aleksandra Ska, Pandemic (detail), 2015, infographics printed on PVC, metal frame, and plastic, dimensions variable.
    picks September 12, 2019

    “Human Free Earth”

    This exhibition of work by thirteen artists belongs to a larger long-term inquiry by Ujazdowski Castle that confronts, without cynicism, both Catherine Malabou’s concept of “plasticity” and, as curator Jarosław Lubiak writes, how “the anthropogenic changes occurring on our planet may transform the Earth into an environment that does not support human life.” As that description suggests, the show’s posthuman approach is less alarmist than studiously curious. The intermedia show’s examination of the nonhuman is as charged by academic research as it is by sarcastic and provocative undertones,

  • Kazimierz Urbański, Demons (still), 1981, mixed media,  color and black-and-white, sound, 10 minutes 40 seconds.
    picks July 19, 2019

    Kazimierz Urbański

    Communist Poland begot a golden era for experimental animation, with Walerian Borowczyk and Jan Lenica winning international festivals in the 1960s and Zbigniew Rybczyński bagging an Oscar for Tango in 1983. The renaissance can be traced back to the government, which funded experimental cinema, including animation, but policed subversive content. Yet while filmmakers were forbidden to overtly criticize the state’s shortcomings, that did not prevent a passionate few from pursuing adventurous work and building an institution around it.

    Kazimierz Urbański, the late subject of this survey, temptingly