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“It pays tribute to those who died, reminds us of the consequences of indifference.”

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A mural by one of the most famous Polish artists, Wilhelm Sasnal, was unveiled at the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews. The mural shows a defenseless but proudly upright woman being led by a soldier. It symbolizes opposing evil.

This year’s celebration of the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising particularly wanted to commemorate civilians whose passive resistance was as important as that with weapons in their hands. The POLIN Museum invited the outstanding Polish artist Wilhelm Sasnal to create mural showing the courage of civilians during the uprising. Originally, it was supposed to appear on the wall of one of the buildings at Anielewicza Street, but the work was eventually moved to the museum.

Mural inspired by a photo

The mural was unveiled on October 20 and can be viewed in the permanent exhibition space, the so-called G9.

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At the unveiling ceremony, the author of the mural, Wilhelm Sasnal, talked about the process of its creation and the sources of inspiration. While preparing to create the work, he came across photos of people being dragged out of the bunker and hiding during the ghetto uprising. – They left surrounded by German soldiers who were obviously having fun. The faces and grimaces of the Germans were shocking, Sasnal described. He added that it was a sequence of related photos. – I found a photo that was quite terrifying. One of the women who was leaving was pulled by a German. He’s kind of above her. I thought to myself that it was as if some evil was hanging over her, something inevitable. It was an idea for a mural, said the artist.

Sasnal made a drawing based on the photo. He painted it in ink. Then he sent the idea to the POLIN Museum, and the institution accepted it.

“Symbolizes opposing evil”

Who does the work by Wilhelm Sasnal represent? This “defenseless but proudly upright woman, led by a soldier, symbolizes opposing evil in defense of human dignity even when there is no chance of salvation,” we read in the description prepared by the museum.

– It was my idea that it would be a woman with a German behind her. Only his hand and his characteristic helmet reveal this German – explained Sasnal.

“Sasnal’s mural – universal in meaning. On the one hand, it pays tribute to those who died, and on the other, it reminds us of the consequences of indifference,” POLIN wrote in a press release.

Works by Wilhelm Sasnal in collections around the world

Wilhelm Sasnal is a painter, illustrator, filmmaker and comic book creator. In 1999, he obtained a diploma from the Faculty of Painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow. His works can be found in many collections around the world, including: at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Tate Modern in London, Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, Fondation Beyeler in Basel and in Warsaw institutions such as the POLIN Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, the National Museum, the Zachęta National Gallery of Art and the Art Center Contemporary. In 2021, the artist’s individual exhibition titled “Such a Landscape” took place at the POLIN Museum.

Main photo source: Mateusz Szmelter/tvnwarszawa.pl

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