The Polish Cultural Institute has been tireless in bringing great Polish artists and performers to America. While very active in New York, they are also sponsoring activities elsewhere in the U.S. Right now, they are supporting–along with the National Endowment for the Arts, the Trust for Mutual Understanding and others–an exhibition in Hartford, Connecticut called “Poza,” which translates loosely to poseur with the notion also of “another side.” Poza is curated by the Polish-born and New York-based art critic and art historian Marek Bartelik. The Hartford location is Real Art Ways, a beautiful alternative space near the center of Connecticut’s capital.
Poza is a multimedia program, including two gallery spaces, a film series, and lectures. The exhibit features 31 artists of Polish connection — either living in, from, or of Polish descent. I caught the opening of the show in Hartford, which runs through January 29, and got to reconnect with one of my favorite Polish artists, Dominik Lejman (a Now:Here:This contributor). Dominik’s work “Skaters” was on display. The image here is from a previous installation of the work, which is a moving “painting” of skaters at Rockefeller Center. Lejman will have a solo show at Luxe gallery on 57th Street in November.The show also features Krzysztof Wodiczko, whose “Warsaw Projection,” showing huge images of women on the facade of the Polish National gallery, addresses womens issues and Monika Weiss (another Now:Here:This contributor) who combines drawing and performance in moving ways that bring new twists to both. Ursula von Rydingsvard, who was born to Polish parents was also represented. We got to see her work the following day at Storm King (see Sky Pape’s review of Storm King here). The video offerings are a highlight, and include a half dozen films from Azorro Group (we covered group member Lucasz Skapski here).
Monika Fabjianska of the Polish Cultural Institute curated a show at the Polish Consulate’s beautiful De Lamar Mansion drawing on Poza’s artists. This sampling, for New Yorkers who weren’t up to the ride to Hartford, formed the exhibition “Polyphony of Images,” opened October 19. I was struck there by an artist, Ewa Harabasz, who uses an ancient, religious approach to portraiture, the icon, to an entirely contemporary, secular purpose. Her “Icon Wall” in Hartford features the image of soldier and boy; a madona and child graced the hall in New York. Her panels are constructed from war images drawn from newspapers.
If you have any reason to be in Hartford, or if you live there, don’t miss this great show. After talking with Real Art Ways director Will Wilkens, I am going to keep my eye on this institution. It was clear that there is a commitment to quality programming, innovative involvement of the community, and intelligent dialog.
Ewa Harabasz, Icon, 2004 (installation view at the Polish Consulate)