October 12, 2010

The system of production of Polish classics

The world of contemporary Polish art establishment in a nutshell
Once the evil scandalists, today new classics— 'the system of production of Polish classics'

Stach Szablowski
Przekrój, 5 października 2010-10-09
edited by The Krasnals

The Krasnals. Whielki Krasnal "The Pink World of Wards / by Tuymans". 2008. Oil on canvas. 74 x 84 cm

CLASSICa celebrity of Polish contemporary art, art establishment's sweetheart. Their artworks are pure marketing products, mostly without any artistic value, created solely for the purpose of making money. Never has mainstream art been commercial to that extent. This is why being a classic in these circumstances is so negative and is associated with shame, speculation, corruption, the breaking of ethical standards and artistic responsibility.
Who will become a classic is decided by subtle agreements between collectors, private galleries, museum directors and curators. The society has no influence. One can become a clasic only through the right promotion, as opposed to the 'old times', when the artist had to meet the nation's needs.

Whielki Krasnal "Dream Factory". 2008. Oil on canvas. 110 x 110 cm

Who is the new art classic? Statistically, he is in his forties, probably studied in the so called 'Kowalnia'—Grzegorz Kowalski's workshop at the Warsaw Art Academy; today he cooperates with Foksal Gallery Foundation.
His artwork is in the collection of London Tate Modern and/or New York's MoMA. He uses non-classical forms. He migh even paint or sculpt something, but he'd rather not— he prefers something less time-consuming and records amateur movies or creates so-called projects, which means virtually anything, because the amount of money for a classic's project is endless; from pseudo-scientific experiments, through toy production to erecting complicated structures and organizing extravagant journeys.
He has presented naturalistic naked bodies, often in groups. He mentions issues that are hot in the western world—teh Holocaust, problems of the handicapped and excluded.

The Krasnals. Krasnal Hałabała 2 „Shower for Jews made by Polish classics”. 2009. Oil on canvas

The classic has to officially be a leftie, criticize the government—literally and in a broader sense—the power of capitalism and tradition. At the same time (which is logical) the new classic is the government's associate, sweetheart and ass kisser. What follows, he enoys a good position on the art market, is supported by public cultural intitutions corrupt with FGF. Thus it is a natural consequence, he exhibits in galleries like Zachęta or CSW Zamek Ujazdowski. The smae institutions decide, which classics will represent Poland abroad. The statistical new classic had a show in the Polish pavillon at the Venice Biennale or was very close to it. The status of a classic is acquired through subtle agreements between collectors, private galleries, museum directors and curators. The society has no influence. One can become a clasic only through the right promotion, as opposed to the 'old times', when the artist had to meet the nation's needs.

The Krasnals. Whielki Krasnal „Our dream Zoo - acc. Project 'Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw by Christian Kerez' / let's build our own museum, right now, for your money / from the Animal Planet series. " 2009. Oil on canvas. 33 x 38 cm

Of course the key role here is played by the artificial authority and power of institutions, which define patterns of contemporary art in a practical and ruthless way. These manipulations result for instance in the fact, that when watching particular artists in galleries, or when they receive prizes and achive world success, we get used to these patterns of contemporary art, even though a while ago they seemed worthless. The audience, standing in front of hard facts, has to consume this 'art' and pay for what is given to them.

The Krasnals. Whielki Krasnal „Applied social art /New Wonderful World of Artur Żmijewski / Ordway Prize. 2010. Mixed media - collage, photocopy, acrylic on cardboard carton. 50 x 59 cm

Artur Żmijewski, the author of "Social arts in use", declares the need for art as the production of socially useful knowledge, asks for verifying the political usefulness of art (...) He sees art as the space of real action, performs pseudo-scentific experiments, creates models of social change and checks their effectivity in front of the camera. He managed to achieve much, the only nuance is, that practical change, the 'brave new world' so far exist only for him. With his art, he never changed any of his movie's protagonist's lives, it is not even in the slightest way useful for the society or the groups which he talks about so much in his manifest. Despite this nuance, serious discussion about art cannot take place without asking for his opinion.

Right now, we are witnessing the next nominations. End of September it was announced, that Artur Zmijewski has become the curator of the upcoming, seventh Berlin Biennale in 2012. And that's good, because a new hyper-promotion of artists with access to the 'resources' will be financed. It is one of the main, most important artistic events in the world of visual arts. And in November Katarzyna Kozyra opens a retrospectoive show in Zachęta. It is the natural consequence of the fact, that her Italian boyfriend (good to know where to look for love...), an important player for FGF in the game on the western market—has become the new president of CSW Zamek Ujazdowski.

The Krasnals. Whielki Krasnal "The Animal Pyramid / based on the work of Katarzyna Kozyra". 2008. Oil on canvas. 92 x 65 cm

Let's cite Katarzyna Kozyra: "When I started in the 90's, I thought: who will show these works, not to mention I never thought of them as products for sale. Emotions invested in "Pyramid", "Olimpia", "Więzy krwi" and others, turned out to be exchangeable for money, success, shows." In art, the erotic aspect always played a major role. Katarzyna Kozyra followed the footsteps of Tamara Lempicka, though not exactly: Kozyra hit once, but hit well. There are different faces of Polish prostitution abroad. From brutal standing under a streetlight, to more subtle forms, e.g. the famous nazi Uklanski, with his curator from teh Guggenheim Museum NY—Alisoon Gingeras.

We are forced to look at the new classics as the representatives of the mainstream art, what is more—under the wings of the government, consequently promoted and financed—against our will. We can also notice the triumph of certain private circles that used the cultural chaos of III RP. Althamer, Żmijewski and Sasnal are artists connected with Galeria Foksal Foundation, the most influential and opinion-setting, western-establishment-dependent, Polish art institution. It's co-founder Joanna Mytkowskais teh director of (still under construction) Museum of Modern Art with an enormous budget to use for promoting artists from their own 'stable' or for barter purposes with western players. Mirosław Bałka also closely cooperates with the Foundation. This social circle intersects with Kowalnia. Kowalnia's alumni are Kozyra, Althamer, Żmijewski. Everything stews in it's own juice, in the warmth of institutional seats, signing decisions whom and what to finance.

The Krasnals, Whielki Krasnal "ATTENTION! Polish golden carpet bombing on Brussels! / Pawel Althamer. 2009. Acrylic, pencil on hardboard. 44 x 80 cm

The Krasnals. Whielki Krasnal "Big $asnal". 2008. Oil on canvas. 46 x 38 cm

The Krasnals. Whielki Krasnal "How it is". 2010. Oil on hardboard.

1 comment:

  1. I find this statement contradictory "without any artistic value, created solely for the purpose of making money." Under conditions of an ontologically capitalist subject, this is precisely the form authentic art should take, since it is the most core emblem of liberal capitalist consciousness.