Critics’ Picks

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

    View of “Agnieszka Brzeżańska: World National Park,” 2019–20.

    Agnieszka Brzeżańska

    Królikarnia
    ul. Puławska 113a Xawery Dunikowski Museum of Sculpture
    November 26, 2019–March 1, 2020

    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 splendor of the royal, Neoclassical aesthetics in full, Brzeżańska has built an art ecosystem to transform the palace into a site of utopia, pointing to both bodies of water and bodily liquids to create art as spa. Religious symbols are dissolved into the murmurs of leaking water (as in the spectacular The Source, 2018, an epoxy-resin sculpture more than six feet high with a fountain spouting from a red-goddess vagina) and the universal language of abstract conceptual painting. Most enchanting is the artist’s singularly holistic view of art, with her installations of huge-format paintings, collages, and videos corresponding to the palace’s architecture and gardens, which together bring a meditative calm. But while we are spared the view, not so the message. In Watch, from the artist’s 2014 “Kobayashi Maru” series, a leading Polish television channel (TVN24) streams news coverage 24/7. Hung upside down and covered in metal leaf, the screen leaves a tiny round hole that gazes out at us like a holy eye.