Outstanding artists do not want their works to be exhibited together with the work of a painter – according to critics – weak and controversial. Often no one asked for their consent. The exhibition is in the prestigious Zachęta – but taken over by Piotr Gliński and his protégés. There was a scandal.
– They called me to submit some work, and I said I wouldn’t, says Marek Sobczyk, a visual artist.
The reaction of some of the most important artists in Poland is not only an expression of opposition. This is a red card for the director of the National Gallery of Art. – I don’t like such arbitrary changes that involve tearing off an entire layer of culture and then planting a new one in its place – adds Sobczyk. – This is a bit of a kind of neo-communism, in that this is how you treat artists – says Professor Leon Tarasewicz, painter and creator of the installation.
Leon Tarasewicz and Marek Sobczyk were among ten artists who signed the letter addressed to the director of Zachęta. They do not agree to their works being shown at the “Landscape of Polish Painting” exhibition at the institution headed by Janusz Janowski.
– Every artist has the right not to work with a specific curator – emphasizes Anda Rottenberg, art historian and former director of Zachęta. The former director of the National Gallery of Art also draws attention to Janowski’s lack of extensive curatorial experience.
Janusz Janowski – despite the protests of people of culture and art – took up the position at the beginning of 2022. Piotr Gliński appointed him without competition. – It was appointed, in my opinion, for more political reasons – says Bogdan Zdrojewski, former Minister of Culture and National Heritage from the Civic Platform.
When asked about the artists’ list, the director replies that their works are the property of Zachęta. – Each work presented here was acquired years ago with public money and all rights – notes Janusz Janowski. – We have the right to secure the appropriate context for our work – replies Marek Sobczyk.
The works director did not remove it. And at the exhibition he included paintings by the controversial artist Ignacy Trzecios. – His vision of the world, the vision of the Poland we are in, is the Poland that is persecuted all the time – emphasizes Małgorzata Kaźmierczak from the International Association of Art Critics “AICA”.
Minister Gliński accepted the jury’s decision, which wants Ignacy Trzecios to represent Poland at the International Art Exhibition in Venice. – If this exhibition takes place, there will be big protests from the entire art world – warns Anda Rottenberg.
The list of works to be shown in Venice includes, among others, “Epitaph for the Cursed Soldiers”, and a work titled “Nord Stream 2” is in preparation.
Only three members of the competition committee expressed a dissenting opinion. Not only – as one of them says – because of the anti-democratic message of the project. It also concerns people sitting on the committee. – Most of them can hardly be considered representative of the art scene – says Karolina Ziębińska-Lewandowska, director of the Warsaw Museum. The chairman of the competition committee was the director of Zachęta.
Main photo source: Fakty TVN