26.09 - 16.11.2014: MANIFESTACJE ROMANTYCZNE
September 26th - November 16th
Artists: Paweł Althamer, Jerzy Bereś, Bogna Burska, Katarzyna Górna, Rafał Jakubowicz, Anna Maria Karczmarska, Tomasz Kozak, Honorata Martin, Bartek Materka, Dorota Nieznalska, Patrycja Orzechowska, Laura Pawela, Joanna Rajkowska, Łukasz Surowiec, Marek Wasilewski, Adam Witkowski, Piotr Wysocki, Zorka Wollny, Artur Żmijewski.
Curator: Stanisław Ruksza
The exhibition "Romantic Manifestations" takes on the theme of romanticism as expressed by the most contemporary of the Polish art scene. The last exhibition to undertake such an issue took place in 1975 and was entitled "Romanticism and the Romantic in 19th and 20th Century Polish Art ", which was curated by Marek Rostworowski and took place at the National Museum of Cracow.
The title of the current exhibition refers to the work of Jerzy Bereś – the famous Polish artist, who had embodied the exemplary individualistic artist, who consciously evoked the romantic conception of creativity, the artist-poet, who cultivated the myth of the genius and victim. Bereś's actions, in what they emphasized, were manifestations (rather than happenings) in so far as "a manifestation is an intrusion into reality".
The works and texts of Jerzy Bereś constitute the starting point for the exhibition, which along with the works of other contemporary Polish artists, will make up the visual narrative of today's "redefinition of romanticism".
Within the thematic sphere of the exhibition will also be included among others questions pertaining to the prophetic, to debates about modernism, to revolutionary uprisings, to individualism and hiking, to mountains and the romantic landscape, to diagnoses on the future of art, to the effectiveness of artistic practices (Jerzy Bereś's text "The Work as Stimulator of Judgement" as well as Artur Żmijewski's "Applied contemporary Art" will be used as a starting point), also formal references to the imaginarium of romanticism, as well as cultural associations today when thinking "art" and "romantic"
In the 90s the Polish symbolic monolith had staggered. Maria Janion declared it as the twilight of a "romantic paradigm", with the last of such explosions being the "Solidarity" movement of 1981-82. Later came its erosion and the dwindling of its myth, as documented for example in David Ost's book "The Defeat of Solidarity". Be it as it may every now and then we have to deal with the return of romanticism. On the one hand with its depleted form, with the return of such Polish demons and their empty slogans once "dusted over " revealing a Polish syndrome of the victim and its allegations, while on the other hand with its myth based on individuality, which can prove important towards the process of modernisation.
In Poland the romantic perspective is most often identified with a Messianic nationalism, still considered as one of the major tools in the practice of historical politics. Consequently the exhibition will present questions pertaining to relationships between romanticism and modernism however from a worldview perspective, based on such ideas as the "return to nature", the "ennoblement of counterculture" and the "revolution of the youth". As Maria Janion had written: "Romanticism, in its introduction of a "spiritual life hypothesis ", in its unveiling of a new horizon to be discovered, in its bringing forth a modernist cultural paradigm – in other words in its modernist view of the world, has enabled us to realise today our condition as ambiguous and dividing, as constantly requiring a renewal of our moralistic and cognitive efforts lest this infinite freedom should become infinite slavery". Nineteenth Century romanticism had in fact made an effort towards the modernisation of Polish society, presenting it with ways it could exist in the new world (this after the revolution and the Napoleonic era) with the foundation of a Polish modernist myth, which on the one hand was an extension of the modernist Enlightenment project, while on the other hand was also a reaction against its rationalistic calculations.
Such a view can also be interesting from today's perspective, in so far as the modernizing process being a (post) modern "romanticization", as a remedy for postmodernism and deconstruction, as a means of salvaging subjectivity both from its strength of vision as a result of modernisation, as well as its discombobulated tendencies for which postmodernism's various ways can be blamed.
The theme of romanticism as undertaken in the exhibition will also highlight its characteristics in enabling modernity to be related to such categories as: youth, the advent of the avant-garde, Prometheanism, as well as the faith in utopia. What is revealed with romanticism is a modern experience of chaos, as well as an attempt to become its master.
Last but not least the exhibition will question the status of the artist in today's society as a romantic figure. The Hölderlanian claim: "That what is endured, is established by poets", as underlined by Agata Bielik-Robson, is particularly important in the conditions towards modernisation, as it breaks down all stagnant structures of tradition. The task of salvaging or be it creating new lasting ideas is left to the poets/artists.
Dorota Nieznalska, "Wieniec mistyczny", 2008, odlew z brązu metodą na wosk tracony
Laura Pawela, Untitled (Friedrich), kadr z filmu
Marek Wasilewski, "Gerry",kadr z filmu,2014