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Two Exhibitions

Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, Warsaw

Andrzej Wroblewski's exhibition concentrates on two phases in his work, when the artist was trying to come up with his own painterly language. 'Lest the Two Seas Meet' is an exhibition which was delivered in a conceptual dialogue with Andrzej Wroblewski's legacy.

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Andrzej Wróblewski: Recto / Verso. 1948–1949. 1956–1957
Curated by Éric de Chassey in collaboration with Marta Dziewańska
until may 17, 2015

The exhibition “Andrzej Wróblewski: Recto / Verso. 1948–1949, 1956–1957” concentrates on two phases in his work: its very beginning, when the artist was trying to come up with his own painterly language (1948–1949) and its very end when, after a period of faith in Stalinist socialist realism and voluntary submission to its mandatory guidelines, he attempted to redefine himself, as if starting from scratch again (1956–1957). These two phases are connected in Wróblewski’s art, both in subject and form, by a unique and highly personalized approach to modernity and the avant-garde. His numerous double-sided paintings and works on paper created in these periods are the material sign of his being torn between political engagement and artistic experiment.

The narrative of the exhibition is based on Wróblewski’s double-sided works, which are usually exhibited one side at a time, with that choice of side decided upon by the paintings’ owners and curators. The artist’s use of both sides of these canvases or the paper works was not an accident or coincidence, or purely the result of an economic situation. Double-sidedness was a sort of program for Wróblewski and a fitting symbol for all his work: he made the two sides complete one another, and question and complicate the other. This type of dual coexistence, of what are most often extremely different statements both formally and content-wise, is also a pointed way of addressing viewers, who have to literally take sides, while at the same time accepting the existence of both images as two complex problems and two solutions. It is also an expression of the conviction that an artist is an active participant in reality, with the goal of his or her art being the proposal of temporary solutions.

The exhibition's additional selection of works on paper and single-sided canvases show the same key motifs being expanded and enriched by Wróblewski at a given juncture in his work. The multilayered divisions, so materially present in Andrzej Wróblewski’s art, embody the philosophical questions and artistic answers that arose after the Second World War; while his lack of compromise in facing irreconcilable contradictions and ideological demands makes his work particularly relevant in our contemporary situation.

“Andrzej Wróblewski: Recto / Verso, 1948–1949, 1956–1957”is the first exhibition on the artist of a retrospective scope to be curated by a non-Polish scholar. It is the result of a research seminar and international conference dedicated to Andrzej Wróblewski that were organized in the Muzeum Sztuki Nowoczesnej in Warsaw in 2012 and 2013. Éric de Chassey, curator of these events and of the upcoming exhibition, is a prominent scholar of postwar painting, the director of the French Academy in Rome – Villa Medici since 2009, and a professor of the history of modern art at the École normale supérieure in Lyon. Éric de Chassey is the author of many publications on European and American postwar art – research that was brought together in the ground-breaking exhibition “Starting from sctach, as if painting had never existed before,” organized in late 2008 at the Musée des Beaux-arts in Lyon (France).

The exhibition is accompanied by a series of meetings with artists (i.e. Luc Tuymans, Wilhelm Sasnal, Marek Sobczyk, Oskar Dawicki, Andrzej Wajda) and an extended educational programme for children, youth and adults.

The exhibition is also accompanied by “Andrzej Wróblewski. Recto/Verso” – a publication by Éric de Chassey and Marta Dziewańska, published as part of the “Museum under Construction” series.

The coorganizer of the exhibition is Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, in cooperation with Andrzej Wróblewski Foundation and Adam Mickiewicz Institute.


Lest the Two Seas Meet
Curated by Tarek Abou El Fetouh

The exhibition curator is Tarek Abou El Fetouh, born in Cairo and based in Brussels. El Fetouh created many exhibitions and artistic initiatives in the Middle East: director of the Young Arab Theatre Fund, initiator of the travelling biennial Meeting Points, and more recently, curator of the cyclical show Home Works VI, under the auspices of one of the region’s major organizations, Ashkal Alwan in Beirut.

The exhibition features works by renowned artists, such as Mona Hatoum, Emily Jacir and Walid Raad, who have gained recognition on the international scene, and by artists of the middle and young generation from Middle East, China, Korea, Singapore, Ukraine and Poland, a fact that highlights the universal character of emancipatory pursuits and attitudes. El Fetouh approaches the exhibition as a kind of philosophical mission, aiming to reveal the universal nature of the metamorphosis of the private into the public, a process that occurs in the body and gives rise to diverse kinds of political transformation.

The exhibition is set against the background of hopes inspired by the interrupted Arab Spring, the significance of which has yet to be fully described and the profound consequences of which remain ambiguous. The Arab Spring began symbolically with a dramatic gesture of an individual: the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi at the end of 2010 in Tunis. The dramatic act shifted the sense of injustice from the private to the public sphere, stirring a wave of protests on an unprecedented scale. Protesters took political initiative by gathering on squares and marching in demonstrations that involved thousands of people – protests that soon spread beyond the Arab world and sparked Occupy movements worldwide.

“For politics to take place, the body has to appear", writes Tarek Abou El Fetouh in his curatorial text, "and for emancipatory actions to take place, the plural collective body has to appear and occupy spaces. Each participant in the protests offers his or her individual body, which then exists between two forms, the individual and the collective, within conditions that are enigmatic.”

To approach this key moment of passage from the individual to the collective body, El Fetouh refers to the concept of the 13th-century philosopher Ibn ’Arabi, barzakh, which literally means “isthmus” and pertains especially to an invisible line that separates two seas, each with its own density, salinity and temperature. For Ibn ’Arabi, the term means “anything that simultaneously divides and brings together two things.”

Through the artists’ works that have been selected, the exhibition offers insight into the state “in between”: between old and new, individual and collective, political and private. The challenges that bring protesters into public squares cannot be addressed using existing political discourses and fixed concepts. It is necessary to define the political anew. It was for a reason that crowds gathering in Tahrir Square did not voice the need to fight for democracy but for social justice, addressing ethics rather than politics; it was for a reason that Occupy movements did not want to tap into the established forms of organization and turned instead to archaic forms of direct democracy.

Thus El Fetouh attaches great importance to a careful examination of the meaning of emancipation that is but faintly sketched. He does not seek its sense in political diagnoses formulated by the media, but in individual motivations. The curator focuses on transformation as it occurs in the human body – the crucial source of all things political. He is interested in the body as a source of resistance – the body that, in a situation of resistance, enters an ambiguous state referred to as barzakh. Therefore his method of tracing political change is to approach the body in a situation of transformation – at the moment of death, for example, and when it becomes a means of emancipation, or when it is imagined in the post-human condition foreshadowing the future.

Basel Abbas & Ruanne Abou-Rahme, Haig Aivazian, Jananne Al-Ani, Doa Aly, Franciszek Buchner, Ali Cherri, Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, Mona Hatoum, Saba Innab, Emily Jacir, Seo Min Jeong, Nikita Kadan, Rajkamal Kahlon, Amal Kenawy, Jean Christophe Lanquetin, Maha Maamoun, Basim Magdy, Jumana Manna, Lada Nakonechna, Ho Tzu Nyen, Walid Raad, Khalil Rabah, Vlada Ralko, Mykola Ridnyi, 
Sharif Waked, Aleksandra Waliszewska, Andrzej Wróblewski, Danwen Xing.

Image: Ali Cherri, The Disquiet, 2013. Courtesy of the artist and Imane Farès.

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Opening: 12 February 2015, 19:00

Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw
ul. Pańska 3 00-124 Warsaw
Opening Hours
uesday-Sunday, 12 am - 8 pm
Admission free

Honorata Martin
dal 4/7/2015 al 4/7/2015

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