Marek Bartelik

  • Der Riss im Raum

    The difficulty with shows like “Der Riss im Raum: Positionen der Kunst seit 1945 in Deutschland, Polen, der Slowakei und Tschechien” (A split in the room: the positions of art since 1945 in Germany, Poland, the Czech and Slovak Republics) is that they seldom live up to the expectations raised by their titles. There are too many works and too many issues to deal with; it is also very difficult to engage in a dialogue with art that still awaits a more serious critical response in the West (as is the case with work from Poland, the Czech and Slovak Republics, and former East Germany). Attempts to

  • Henryk Stazewski

    Organized as a tribute to one of the most important 20th-century Polish artists, Stazewski’s retrospective should also be perceived as an example of the Polish art world’s penchant for, if not stubbornness in, privileging art that avoids overt references to social or political Issues. Stazewski is considered to be a pivotal figure in the development of abstract art in Poland: for decades he occupied one of the most visible and influential positions in the country’s artistic life. This exhibition summed up his 70-year-long career, attempting to place it in an international context. In Poland,

  • “Minisalon” “Impermanent Places”

    Ten years ago, under the auspices of the Jazz Section in Prague (a dissident organization of musicians, artists, and writers), rebellious graphic designer Joska Sklanik, a member of the Section, began a project called the “Minisalon,” in which he invited some 300 artists from Czechoslovakia to produce an image in a small, square wooden box that he provided. He imposed no other restrictions. Sklanik had hoped to exhibit these boxes and to publish a complete catalogue, but for the next ten years he was unable to mount the exhibition, at first because of the political assault launched on the

  • Marek Chlanda

    Entitled Ceremonial Group and consecutively numbered, Marek Chlanda’s new mixed-media sculptures (all 1994) are variations on a single form—a large, hollow, birdlike skull with an elongated beak modeled in cloth stretched on a wire support and covered with layers of beeswax mixed with pigment. Singly or in pairs, these forms are mounted on large sheets of plywood that function as supports and pedestals. The artist traces the provenance of this shape to the downcast head of his young son after a rough day in school, but in fact his sculptures transcend any reference to natural forms or specific

  • Ursula von Rydingsvard

    Like many of Ursula von Rydingsvard’s exhibitions, this show paradoxically celebrated the monumentality of the everyday. Autobiographical in content, these new sculptures also reflect the artist’s process-oriented mode of working: her engagement with the wood’s physical qualities.

    Iconographically, these works draw on the same sources as her earlier pieces: common handmade farm tools, domestic implements, the wooden architecture of peasants’ dwellings and small country churches as mythical prototypes, and the emphatically “mechanical” concerns of Minimalism and post-Minimalism. They refer to both

  • “The Four Elements”

    This exhibition drew loosely on Jungian archetypes and more directly on Gaston Bachelard’s observation that “the realm of the imaginary is ruled by four elements and that, accordingly, one can distinguish four types of material imagination that correspond to fire, air, water, or earth.” Interpreting the theory of this French philosopher rather freely and extending it to the plastic arts, Kinga Kawalerowicz curated this show based on the idea that “the works of women reflect a particularly strong conviction of the magical and mythical foundation of culture as well as a special sensitivity to the

  • Magdalena Jetelová

    Into the Belvedere’s lower-level rooms Magdalena Jetelová piled ten cubic meters of Icelandic lava in two corners with windows and cut it with a laser beam, allowing the light to enter the space through partially uncovered openings. These openings served as the “junctures” between the interior of the gallery and the outside of the building, which the artist considered to be an integral part of her work.

    This project began with the artist’s 1992 trip to Iceland where, with the use of laser rays, she “redrew” the profile of the central Atlantic shelf that surfaces in that country and makes the

  • Gruppa

    Formed in 1982, Gruppa (Ryszard Grzyb, Pawel Kowalewski, Jaroslaw Modzelewski, Wlodzimierz Pawlak, Marek Sobczyk, and Ryszard Wozniak) exhibited provocative paintings and drawings (including the collectively produced gigantic works on paper called papiery) staged numerous performances, and published its own bulletin. In 1989, Gruppa’s activity—strangely enough never based on a coherent program, came to an end with a work painted on a wooden billboard in front of an election center in Warsaw as an advertisement for Solidarity. Today, as the artists pursue their individual careers, the connections

  • Magdalena Abakanowicz

    Vivid memories of World War II and four decades of communism inform the art of the Polish artist Magdalena Abakanowicz. The complexity of transforming autobiography into art was thoughtfully addressed in her two recent shows. At the Marlborough Gallery, her sculptures—scattered throughout the rooms and placed outside on the terrace—were drawn from Hand-like Trees, 1992–93, the series “Circus,” 1992, the multiple-figured Puellae, 1992–93, and Infantes, 1992. But the monumental Embryology, 1978–81, first presented at the Venice Biennale in 1980, dominated the show. A morass of 600 hand-stitched

  • Jerzy Kubina

    Formerly a chapel, this gallery was an appropriate venue for Jerzy Kubina’s show, “Ikonostas” ( Iconostasis). An emerging Polish-born artist currently living in New York, Kubina belongs to a group of young artists who fled the political and social turmoil of the ’80s in Eastern Europe to settle in the West.

    Kubina’s recent works, usually monumental, three-dimensional paintings—often diptychs or triptychs—on unprimed canvas and tar paper visibly stapled to wooden stretchers, were all entitled Ikonostax and consecutively numbered. In keeping with their titles—an iconostasis is a partition with

  • “Translation”

    Organized by the Center for Contemporary Arts in Warsaw, curated by Kim Levin, and presented this past summer, the exhibition entitled “Translation” was the first opportunity here in many years to view the works of mostly young artists from the United States. Twelve American artists were brought to Warsaw for two weeks to create site-specific installations. They were asked to use local materials and objects, and, through the process of “translation,” to infuse them with new meanings.

    To a foreigner, today’s Poland can still seem outlandish, but it can also be intriguing. The country is in a