Sylwia Serafinowicz

  • Edward Krasiński, Retrospective K140 (detail), 1984, ten photographs mounted on plywood, blue tape. Installation view. Photo: Roger Sinek.

    Edward Krasiński

    The oeuvre of Edward Krasiński (1925–2004), one of the most creative minds of the past century, is far from unfamiliar to me. Krasiński’s Warsaw apartment/studio was opened to the public in 2007 as the Avant-Garde Institute and quickly became a popular stop for art professionals visiting the city. His work was introduced to broader audiences in Poland through a retrospective at the Bunkier Sztuki Gallery of Contemporary Art in Kraków in 2008. Having visited both, I did not expect to find many surprises in Liverpool. Yet the exhibition, curated by Kasia Redzisz and Stephanie Straine, did amaze

  • Robert Mapplethorpe, Frogs, 1984, gelatin silver print, 20 × 16". © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation.

    Robert Mapplethorpe

    Alison Jacques has represented the estate of Robert Mapplethorpe in the UK since 1999 and has showcased his work many times, often with the help of guest curators who either played an important role in the artist’s life or were influenced by his photographs. Among them was model David Croland, Mapplethorpe’s first long-term boyfriend, who curated “Robert Mapplethorpe: Fashion Show” in 2013. Croland’s portrait, enlarged to more than eleven feet high, welcomed visitors to this recent show, curated by another notorious photographer, eighteen years Mapplethorpe’s junior, Juergen Teller.

    Like

  • Cristóbal Gracia, Simples y primitivos (Simple and Primitive), 2016, watercolor and pastel on ink-jet print, 28 3/8 × 34 1/4".

    Cristóbal Gracia

    Cristóbal Gracia was hailed by the press as one of the “most rewarding discoveries” of the 2016 Gallery Weekend Mexico. This was in response to his takeover of gallery Cuarto de Máquinas’s newly opened space with the solo show “Aquatania: Parte I,” curated by Inbal Miller and Edgar Alejandro Hernández. Immediately striking, as one entered the first of the two rooms, was the color of the walls––a beautiful, floral shade of pink, which, as it turned out, matched the hue decorating the interior of the Hotel Los Flamingos in Acapulco, the long-term residence of Johnny Weissmuller, the actor and

  • Raphael Albert, Miss Caribbean Queen with fellow contestants, ca. 1970s, gelatin silver print, 30 × 30".

    Raphael Albert

    The bikini is in decline, announced the British press in the summer of 2016. This factoid was supposedly linked to the rise of a new standard of female beauty set by the leotard-sporting American Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles. But the image of a fit, strong black female body as a standard of beauty is nothing new, as “Raphael Albert: Miss Black & Beautiful,” curated by Renée Mussai, reminded me. Consider Albert’s 1981 portrait Miss Grenada Theresa Hopkins #1, London, one of the few color photographs in the show. It depicts the model with her lips painted red, dressed in a one-piece bathing

  • Reza Aramesh, Action 165, Study of the Head as Cultural Artifact, 2016, handcarved Carrara marble, 17 3/4 × 10 × 10". From the series “Study of the Head as Cultural Artifact,” 2016–.

    Reza Aramesh

    Reza Aramesh uses fine craftsmanship to engage with such pressing issues as the sublimation of violence by contemporary media. In his recent exhibition “At 11:57 am Wednesday 23 October 2013,” he presented photographs, marble heads, and vases that had been handmade following ancient Greek methods, then fired in a kiln in Iran. The show’s title refers to the precise time of the British tabloid the Daily Mail’s publication online of an article reporting a beheading, believed to be an honor killing, that took place in Afghanistan. A couple who were having a love affair were reportedly kidnapped,

  • Indrė Šerpytytė, Pedestal, Square Gathering, 2016, ink on vinyl and Dibond, 78 × 96”.
    picks October 27, 2016

    Indrė Šerpytytė

    Indrė Šerpytytė’s current body of work here is made up of photocollages and sculptures, exhibited on the gallery’s ground floor and in its basement, respectively. Her “Pedestal” collages (all works cited, 2016) depict statues of Lenin and Stalin in Lithuania’s Grūtas Park, a sculpture garden filled with decrepit Soviet-era monuments. Šerpytytė’s photographs of these dead symbols offer up an uncanny beauty, as we try making sense of these proud and pompous figures standing against backdrops that are lush and verdant. The artist juxtaposes her color photographs with archival black-and-white images

  • View of “El Hadji Sy,” 2016.
    picks September 06, 2016

    El Hadji Sy

    The first show in Poland dedicated to El Hadji Sy, the Senegalese artist and activist, focuses on the performative and socially engaged side of his practice. Some of the works also familiarize us with artist’s interest in the intersection of spirituality and nature, for instance, the painting Vegetal Ancestry, 2013, in which the lips and neck of a man’s profile become leafy plants. On display is a rich repertoire of sculptures, paintings, and works on jute, some of them realized during artist’s residency at this venue. Many pieces remain linked to the documentation of performances in which they

  • Maria Lassnig, Kitchen Bride, 1988, oil on canvas, 49 x 39".
    picks July 27, 2016

    Maria Lassnig

    The late painter Maria Lassnig’s rigorous, febrile, decades-long project in self-portraiture takes the viewer on a remarkable journey. In this retrospective—Lassnig’s first in the UK—we encounter forty of the artist’s mostly large-scale works, along with several of her irresistibly beautiful and witty animations. One of these, a 35-mm film titled The Ballad of Maria Lassnig (Maria Lassnig Kantate), 1992, features the artist, glamorously dressed, singing about the vicissitudes of her life and career. It is very much in the spirit of her paintings—humorous, ironic, yet unflinchingly honest. At

  • View of “Krystian Truth Czaplicki: Final Touch,” 2016.
    picks May 19, 2016

    Krystian Truth Czaplicki

    Since Méret Oppenheim first exhibited her piece My Nurse, 1936, made of a pair of white heels served on a platter, found objects have invaded art’s representation of our desires, needs, and sorrows. Krystian Truth Czaplicki offers a new twist on this tradition by turning his steel and glass forms into containers holding Absolut Vodka, Listerine, and Nivea Cream. These materials, as well as the titles given to the works, such as Psychotic Morning, 2014, successfully turn his abstractions into depictions of life. Their spotless surfaces, just as well groomed as the face of American Psycho’s Patrick

  •   Jakub Czyszczoń, Untitled, 2015, mixed media on linen, 23 3/4 × 19 3/4".

    Jakub Czyszczoń

    Founded in Poznań, Stereo operates today from Warsaw and is located in what was formerly the biggest printing facility in the People’s Republic of Poland, designed by famous modernist architect Kazimierz Marczewski and built in 1950. The spectacular architecture of this now run-down building and its somewhat humid interior proved to be the perfect setting for the works Jakub Czyszczoń gathered for his exhibition “[is the room full of smoke?].” Czyszczoń, who was born in 1983, presented a series of abstract pieces of different sizes that look like paintings but were created via various experimental

  • View of “people sometimes, die,” 2016.
    picks February 10, 2016

    “people sometimes, die”

    This group exhibition curated by New York–based artist Jesse Hlebo, titled “people sometimes, die,” opens with Denzel Russell’s The Legislator, 2015, a gun-shaped tube of glass filled with blood, which partially exploded some time after it was hung. The piece is violent and seductive, much like Rihanna’s paean to revenge, “Bitch Better Have My Money,” a remix of which serves as the sound track for E. Jane’s video GetThaMoney.irl.mp4, 2015. Jane’s video offers us a clip from the notorious film Set It Off (1996), a story about four black women turned bank robbers who are, in the words of Vivica