BWA Warszawa
BWA Warszawa
"It hurts when I laugh"
05.07.2019 - 14.09.2019
Martyna Czech, Leszek Knaflewski "We have nothing in common"
25.05.2019 - 30.06.2019
FOAF 2019: BWA Warszawa hosting Gianni Manhattan (Vienna) + Kristina Kite (LA)
06.04.2019 - 11.05.2019
Witek Orski "I would prefer not to talk about this"
14.02.2019 - 30.03.2019
Between Salvation and Constitution
11.11.2018 - 05.01.2019
WGW 2018: Agnieszka Brzeżańska, Jan Dobkowski, Zuza Krajewska "Goddesses"
21.09.2018 - 27.10.2018
Jadwiga Sawicka "Protest Reflex"
23.06.2018 - 31.07.2018
Ewa Ciepielewska "Emotional Support Animals"
12.05.2018 - 16.06.2018
FOAF: Jiří Thýn, Piotr Makowski, Witek Orski, "Line"
07.04.2018 - 28.04.2018
Adam Adach "Demos and Demons"
03.03.2018 - 04.04.2018
Agnieszka Kalinowska "Heavy Water"
27.01.2018 - 28.02.2018
WGW 2017: Yann Gerstberger, Sławomir Pawszak, Hanna Rechowicz "The Uses of Enchantment"
22.09.2017 - 25.11.2017
WGW2017: WYKWITEX
22.09.2017 - 24.09.2017
"Living in a Material World" Paweł Dudziak, Adrian Kolerski, Michał Sroka, Eliasz Styrna, Katarzyna Szymkiewicz
02.09.2017 - 16.09.2017
Małgorzata Szymankiewicz "Stretching of Concepts"
27.05.2017 - 29.07.2017
Ruben Montini "One Person Protest"
27.05.2017 - 27.05.2017
Wielka 19 Gallery
04.03.2017 - 06.05.2017
THE DYNAMICS OF DECLINE
28.01.2017 - 25.02.2017
Witek Orski & Maria Toboła "Spinning sex"
17.12.2016 - 14.01.2017
WGW 2016: Karol Radziszewski "Ali"
23.09.2016 - 19.11.2016
Small Sculptural Forms
19.06.2016 - 10.09.2016
Sławomir Pawszak "Heat"
12.03.2016 - 28.05.2016
Krzysztof Maniak "Snow Is What Comes To Mind"
06.02.2016 - 05.03.2016
Lada Nakonechna, Zhanna Kadyrova "Experiments"
05.12.2015 - 30.01.2016
WGW 2015: Ewa Axelrad "Minimum, Necessary, Objectively Reasonable"
25.09.2015 - 21.11.2015
Małgorzata Szymankiewicz "Postproduction"
26.06.2015 - 12.09.2015
Joanna Janiak, Piotr C. Kowalski "The Nature of Things"
25.04.2015 - 13.06.2015
Iza Tarasewicz "Reverse Logistics"
14.02.2015 - 19.04.2015
Karol Radziszewski "In the Shadow of the Flame"
29.11.2014 - 04.02.2015
WGW: Olga Mokrzycka-Grospierre, Nicolas Grospierre "A Glass Shard in the Eye"
26.09.2014 - 22.11.2014
Jadwiga Sawicka "Fragments of Stories"
24.05.2014 - 24.07.2014
Jakub Woynarowski "Saturnia Regna"
15.03.2014 - 17.05.2014
Sławomir Pawszak „Cannabis, whisky, ananas”
11.01.2014 - 08.03.2014
The Gardens. Laura Kaminskaite, Augustas Serapinas
23.11.2013 - 19.12.2013
Agnieszka Kalinowska "Eastern Wall"
27.09.2013 - 16.11.2013
Zuza Krajewska "Solstice"
29.06.2013 - 14.09.2013
WITHERED, Kisterem Gallery, Budapest
21.06.2013 - 15.08.2013
LITTLE WARSAW "Enter"
25.04.2013 - 21.06.2013
“Warsaw: The Day After..." Vartai Gallery, Vilnius
11.04.2013 - 11.05.2013
Self-Organization, vol.2: New Roman
23.03.2013 - 20.04.2013
Ewa Axelrad "Warm Leatherette"
26.01.2013 - 20.03.2013
Self-Organization, vol. 1. Certainty
05.01.2013 - 19.01.2013
Ziemilski / Marriott / The End of the World
21.12.2012 - 21.12.2012
Kama Sokolnicka "Rusty elements of our garden"
28.09.2012 - 30.11.2012
"ALPHAVILLE" Griffin Artspace, Warsaw
28.09.2012 - 30.12.2012
Krystian TRUTH Czaplicki "The Changeling"
21.07.2012 - 09.08.2012
Adam Adach "Reprezentacja"
21.04.2012 - 07.07.2012
Małgorzata Szymankiewicz, Przemek Dzienis "Sub Pop"
25.02.2012 - 14.04.2012
Nicolas Grospierre "The Bank"
03.12.2011 - 11.02.2012
Tribute To Fangor
05.11.2011 - 20.11.2011
"New Order", Art Stations, Poznań
29.09.2011 - 09.02.2012
Wojtek Ziemilski "New Order" performance
23.09.2011 - 24.09.2011
Agnieszka Kalinowska „Extinguished Neon Signs”
10.09.2011 - 30.10.2011
Jarosław Fliciński "Nobody Knows That For Sure"
25.06.2011 - 28.08.2011
THE OPENING "Plundering the Ruins of Reality" BWA Warszawa
07.05.2011 - 11.06.2011

artyści
wystawyBWA Warszawa
wydarzenia
Targi
o nas

english version
THE OPENING "Plundering the Ruins of Reality"

Adam Adach
Jarosław Fliciński
Nicolas Grospierre
Agnieszka Kalinowska
Angelika Markul
Małgorzata Szymankiewicz
and
Giovanni Battista Piranesi
komuna//warszawa
Grobbing Thristle

   “Plundering the ruins of reality” is an exhibition that on the 7th May will inaugurate activities of the new Warsaw BWA Warszawa gallery. It will present all artists represented by the gallery (Adam Adach, Agnieszka Kalinowska, Angelika Markul, Małgorzata Szymankiewicz, Jarosław Fliciński and Nicolas Grospierre), as well as several special guests, i.a. Giovanni Battista Piranesi or Komuna Warszawa theater group. “Plundering the ruins of reality” is a story of “destroyed modernism”, of a project, once beautiful and promising, but today in a state of decay and turned into ashes - very intriguing ashes.

    The exhibition will take place in a historic modernist villa, in the Saska Kępa district of Warsaw, built in 1928 by Czesław Przybylski (author of such designs like the House Without Edges, or the, today non-existent, train station Warszawa Główna) for a sculpturer Mieczysław Lubelski. The house, until recently neglected, is currently being renovated by Wojciech Popławski, a renown architect from the OP Architekten office, and soon will be transformed into The Functional House – a new independent centre of culture.

    The “Plundering the ruins of reality” statement first appeared several years ago on a sticker made by Twożywo group. Today it seems that it perfectly describes the attitude and ambitions of a whole formation of Polish artists – these, whose point of reference is the modernist tradition – of painting, photography, as well as architecture. For the young Polish artists high modernism from the beginning of the century, as well as its local continuations (i.e. socmodernism), are a distant memory – but at the same time they are their main inspiration. It’s a distant memory because - as we already know - it’s “our antic”; like the ancient Rome it’s already brought into ruin. But it’s also the main inspiration because it seems, that we still can’t escape the modernist dream of the world as an ideal design, a fulfilled utopia of social order. That’s where the recurring visions come from; pictures of decaying blocks of flats, concrete overgrown with plants, pure constructivist (pictorial or designed) arrangements that after a short while of observation reveal their inbuilt chaos, fall into pieces and become impenetrable. Our art is so filled with it, that we can firmly state, it’s not built around the concept of realism or surrealism. It seems that the real tensions are to be found in other places. BWA Warszawa will pay attention to them, not only in its inaugural exhibition.

    BWA Warszawa is a collective initiative of Justyna Kowalska (till now curator of Le Guern gallery), Michał Suchora (co-founder of lokal_30 gallery), and Tomasz Plata (editor, author, lecturer at Theatre Academy in Warsaw). It will be a private gallery that also executes non-commercial projects and operates in public space. Apart from exhibitions, BWA Warszawa intends to organise lectures, as well as theatrical and performative happenings. The gallery name, that refers to the socrealist idea of covering the whole country with a net of Bureaus of Artistic Exhibitions (Biura Wystaw Artystycznych), is a deceitful recollection of times when art was a piece of a utopian social plan. We don’t maintain this utopia, but we do want to make it a subject of our reflection.

 ***

"Modernism, a burned out project"

Plundering the Ruins of Reality - a referral to a onetime sticker of Twożywo Group? Or maybe more serious, even a bit pretentious “At my back the ruins of Europe” quoting Hamletmachine by Heiner Müller? Or more risky, almost at the edge of good taste Eu-rope after the Rain (you probably remember Max Ernst's painting and later John Foxx's song)? Or in another way, Concrete Island, referring to J. G. Ballard? In a pop style, Picnic by the Motorway as Suede named one of their songs (probably also reminiscing Ballard)? This all could have been the titles of one and the same exhibition, or few exhibi-tions exploring one and the same subject.
The world after a turning point, after catastrophe, after a fall down, or simply in a state of suspension, of energy loss. Something has ended but the remains of it still dominate the landscape. We have already seen similar things. Once at the etchings of Piranesi, which show the slow death of the Roman Empire. But today we know that “modernism is our antiquity”. The Empire that falls apart right in front of our eyes is the empire of blocks of flats made of panel buildings, swings once designed in the name of the progress, concrete parking lots at the sub-urbs. Modernist project of organized life is turning into ruin. It is not at all a spectacular disaster, rather a slow dying, fading down. Death on instalments. No wonder that it creates strong melancholic consequences.
According to Freud the structure of melancholy is rather an easy one to explain. We are in an intense, although a complicated rela-tionship with someone. A bit of love, a bit of suffering, a lot of mutual resentments. Then that someone goes away (dies, leaves us) before we managed to clear all the problematic issues. As a result we are left with a painful memory. It is a mix of failed hopes and stings of remorse. He left, so we proba-bly didn't deserve him being with us. He left, so he didn't manage to apologize to us, to make up for the harm done. We miss him, we feel that he influenced us, and at the same time the situation is somehow embarrassing; we'd prefer that he left our memories completely.
Maybe it is a bit strong statement, but it seems like a huge part of Polish art suffers from melancholy after modernism. Monika Sosnowska runs a dialogue with an architec-tural tradition of national socmodernism by admitting it its place in the history but also by taking revenge on it (there is loads of embar-rassing bent bars, and deformed blocks in that art). Michał Budny deliberately builds his sculptures of non-durable materials; it is still minimalism, but broken; it is still modernism, but soft, exposed to devastation. Katarzyna Przezwańska brings the techniques of ab-stract, modernist painting into places where modernism waits for its last days; she brings it to the façades of socmodernism shops and to concrete pavements in the parks.
This list can go on for long. There is Grzegorz Sztwiertnia who explores the connections between modernism in art and modernist practices of social discipline. There is Rafał Jakubowicz who only weeks ago finished his emblematic work; it sums up the fall of the modernist idea by showing a sign FIASCO made of font designed by Bauhaus student, Franz Ehrlich who was later a pris-oner of a concentration camp in Buchenwald. There is also Wilhelm Sasnal fascinated by modernist history of his home town Tarnów. Etc., etc. It all brings a thought, which for now can only be whispered and which needs further verification; the real passionate discussion, the authentic search within the young Polish art takes place in a completely different area than we thought. It isn't rivalry of realists with surrealists, neither it is a fight of the politically engaged with escapists, that organizes the art scene. Those arguments seem arranged and they bring benefits only to its participants. And yet in another area there is a growing group of artists trying in diverse ways to deal with a problematic historic fall, a fall that they define as a modernist one.
We know more and more about modernist tradition in our art. We have books of prof. Piotr Piotrowski, in which the concept of modernism is a central one and it organizes the whole argument; we have the efforts of the Warsaw Modern Art Museum that refers to the modernism not only in its name. What we don't have is a clear awareness of the fact that the discussion with modernism (or rather melancholic memories of modernism) is not only the past but also a present.
BWA Warszawa is suppose to be a gesture in that direction. Almost everything here is connected with modernism (in its diverse forms); starting with the name (which is an ironic referral to the times when the art was suppose to function as a fragment of radical programme of social engineering), through its seat (it's settled in the villa built in 1928 in the International Style, by Czesław Przybylski, also the author of Warsaw's House Without the Edges or of already non-existent train station Warszawa Główna), finishing with the artists. BWA Warszawa programme is coherent not on the level of generation (the youngest of our artists is younger than the oldest one by almost two decades), nor on the social level (we didn't meet over the coffee table), but on a deeper and probably more important level. Our artists don't repeat one another, each of them has its individual voice, but they all speak about the same world, the world of burned out modernism. It is clearly visible in an exhibition that inaugurates the activity of the gallery.
Adam Adach used to paint blocks of flats (Brwinów, Niemcewicz Strasse). Today he shows his first painting from a new cycle Blind Façades (Ślepe fasady). The cycle will present the façades of skyscrapers built in the International Style, deliberately anonymous as the artist doesn't want to precise what are those buildings and where they stand. They can be anywhere between Berlin and Grozny. But everywhere in the same way they force to verify of the modernist utopia and its pedagogy of introducing “the light and the order” into the house.
Through depriving the architecture of its context, distilling only schematic arrangement of forms from the architecture, Adach's painting starts to resemble abstract art. It is not far from here to the works of Jarosław Fliciński. Years ago Fliciński knew how to get out the abstraction from the most prosaic places such as patterns on tourist blankets or rhythm of tiles in the swimming pool. Nowadays his works are becoming more and more enigmatic; they don't tell any stories, they don't refer to anything beyond the tradition of its domain. But at the same time they are about some-thing more than just finding a “nice” abstract shape. Some deformations, pseudo mistakes, start to emerge in those works. Up till recently those deformations were introduced in works of Fliciński by painter's gesture, neglectful, deliberately not precise. Today they are hid-den deeper in the painting's structure, in its following and overlapping layers. It is not an abstraction from the world of ideal order, but abstraction in which there is anarchic and subversive element hidden underneath the appearance of order.
Małgorzata Szymankiewicz also works with the convention of abstraction. Just like Fliciński she is mostly interested in the tension between the order and the perspective of a breakdown, disintegration. In her Comfortable Situation (Komfortowa sytuacja) she bal-ances on the edge of painting, installation and design. The main part is something resembling a set of furniture but deprived from its customary functions; few elements coated in a trashy fabric. Szymankiewicz is plundering the ruins of reality and finds there trea-sure-trashes, which, brought into the world of art, remind us about a former utopia of ideally designed world. The dialectics of the project and its unavoidable failure are shown in this art with a very big swing.
Also Agnieszka Kalinowska is attracted to places in which modernist plan is transformed into a ruin. However in this case modernism shows its darker character. The signs of such modernism are the symbols of social division; fences, huge sheets of eternit. Political irony can be seen even in apparently lyrical work Welcome. A sign that falls apart and that looks like brought from a funfair, wreathed from a paper string; it doesn't bring us idyllic memories from the childhood but it brings a more serious question about the readiness to welcome more and more guests into our world. Has this egalitarian idea pauperised as much as the sign itself?
Other works of Kalinowska are in a way the quotes from the reality of late modernism, for example chunks of reinforced concrete being overgrown with moss. Here we can see a motif almost mythological; the remains of civilisa-tion being overgrown with flora. This process can be understood as a come back of civilisation to the nature; or quite the opposite (probably more interesting) as a sign that the civili-sation itself contains something wild, uncontrollable. At the inaugurating exhibition of BWA Warszawa the motif of wild modernity can also be seen in works of Nicolas Gros-pierre and Angelika Markul.
Grospierre explores the issue of how the na-ture was and is cornered and harnessed by the modernity. One of his works consists of a concrete box with an aquarium full of plants inside the box (pictures presenting those plants are fixed on the case). Nature as a part of architecture, something ideally subjected to the human will; this idea can be seen regularly in Grospierre's works. However sometimes life brings surprising punch lines to intentions of an artist. During the work's stay in one of the Polish biggest art institutions the plants... have not been watered and they withered. Is such state the work is presented in BWA Warszawa, with a contradictory suggestion that this minor organisation neglect in a wider context of our exhibition brings additional meanings and becomes a good illustration of a failure of modernist utopian thought of conquering the world. Next to Concrete Jungle (Betonowa dżungla) we remind Grospierre's photographs from already non-existent hydroclinic in Druskininkai in Lithuania; one of artist's several works that proves his particular sensitiveness to perverse beauty of socmodernist relics.
Markul on the other hand leads us through her jungle to the place which we have to reach since we started our discussion with concepts such as modernism and melancholy; she takes us to the area of subconscious, this Freudian invention that was one of the original and funding ideas of modernity. From the ground floor upwards we mix with rational thoughts; gallery's basements filled with works of Markul are the zone of dreams, phantasmagoria. If modernist project failed, then here we can see why it did; as it didn't include what's hiding beyond the conciousness, somewhere lower, deeper. Freud did promise a cure in a shape of psychoanalytical therapy, a help in extracting to the surface what's hidden, but at the same time he didn't have any doubts: subconscious is a powerful mistress, she controls us more than we con-trol her.
The exhibition is completed with the works of guests. Theatrical Group komuna//warszawa (BWA Warszawa wants to be active not only in the field of visual arts but also in the field of performing arts) shows their already classic performance Design/Gropius, turned into a multichannel video installation, which shows a failure of mentioned in the title guru of modernism. The band Grobbing Thristle (do you remember Throbbing Gristle?) presents the soundtrack for admiration of the National Stadium, that emerges opposite the gallery; the soundtrack is titled Freshly Built Ruins (Świeżo wybudowane ruiny), which is of course a referral to other heroes of industrial, Einstürzende Neubauten.
All of this is only an initial exploration. If we want to explore further we would have to define more precisely what do we have on our minds when we talk about modernism (for the time being we are happy with rather general social definition: modernism is a cultural for-mation parallel to the enlightenment, in which a postulate of emancipation of the subject is oddly completed by repressive educational project). Maybe it would be also worth to verify the hypothesis, that comparison to modernism explains something in Polish art, but also the other way round that thorough observation of new Polish art adds something to our knowledge of modernism; can we fully discuss late modernity not knowing anything about melancholic traces left by it in the art?
However, even without such a precision we can risk saying that art suggests that modernism influences us like a toxic daddy. He left years ago, we still love him, but at the same time he is a cause of our discomfort. We feel obliged towards him but we also feel a growing need of a rebel.

Tomasz Plata

Translation: Martyna Szmytkowska