March 27, 2023

Quick! Polish Art Now – The Saatchi Gallery only from 4th-9th June

Why do lifts have mirrors in them?

I was pondering this conundrum as I stood in the small box that swished me higher up the Saatchi Gallery to see the Polish Art Now exhibition. It’s only on from the 4th – 9th June, so if you want to get an idea of what is happening in Poland at the moment get down to SW3 ASAP. Curated by Sacha Craddock it shows a selection of the country’s contemporary artists and aims to increase awareness of the Polish Art scene. Works in the show range from expressive to mannered, photographic to graphic, as well as sculpture and performance.

Simon Paints by Szymon Urbanski

Simon paints by Szymon Urbanski

Including fifteen artists Polish Art Now is a brief overview of current artistic endeavour in Poland and gives a glimpse of the work that is going on in the country. Pieces I was drawn to included the flat, colourful cartoons of Maciej Wieczerzak and the paintings of Szymon Urbanski. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, when renowned Polish abstractionist Stefan Gierowski was professor. Urbanski says he is inspired by medieval miniatures and sees himself as a kind of monk. His prayerful pose in a sparsely furnished room in Simon paints is at odds with the bright colours which would never find their way into a monk’s cell. The title written across the top of the image recalls Soviet propaganda posters, again rarely seen in a monastery.

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Marek Niemirski has filled half a gallery with a large series of paintings of finger prints on big canvases. Artists have worked with their own fingerprints before – think of Manzoni and Oppenheimer, but Niemirski has  chosen those of famous artists whose work he owns. Everyone has a fingerprint, yet each one is unique. They simultaneously include and divide humanity.

Contemporary Polish art is clearly vibrant and diverse. The Saatchi show includes several more artists who work in different ways and media. These include the sculpture of Julia Bistula, the amazingly rich output of Andrzej Cisowski and work of Wojciech Fangor – the only Polish artist to have had a solo show at the Guggenheim.

Polish Art Now has been brought to London by Abbey House which provides a platform for the growing artistic community in Warsaw. Enjoy the show, which is only on until 9th June. And if you have any thoughts on why lifts always have mirrors get in touch.

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