VIEWS 2017 Deutsche Bank Award

09.09 – 12.11.2017 VIEWS 2017 Deutsche Bank Award

Zachęta – National Gallery of Art

artists: Ewa Axelrad, Przemek Branas, Agata Kus, Honorata Martin, Łukasz Surowiec
curator: Dorota Monkiewicz
cooperation: Maria Świerżewska
organizers: Deutsche Bank Polska S.A. & Zachęta – National Gallery of Art

Views 2017 is the eighth edition of the competition for young artists, organised by Deutsche Bank Polska S.A. and Zachęta – National Gallery of Art. The committee led by painter Paulina Ołowska selected five finalists. Participating in this year’s Views are artists born between 1984 and 1987, representing various regions of Poland, whose art is linked by a shared interest in humanity — both in the individual, as well as in the social perspective.

Ewa Axelrad has lived and worked in London and Gliwice (Poland), for many years. She creates installations, photographs, videos and sculptural objects. One of the recurring motifs in her works is violence observed in interpersonal and social relationships, and above all, its manifestations in everyday objects or architectural systems. Przemek Branas uses performance, video and installations in his works — combining biographical themes with symbols. He is interested in crossing boundaries marked by the body, culture and social functioning mechanisms. Agata Kus is primarily a painter, although she works with the medium of video as well. She paints mainly people. Her paintings are characterised by a simultaneous multiplicity of narratives bonded into one composition, their non-obviousness and ambiguity. She plays with form, using painting collages, pseudo-cut-outs, elements pasted in or crossed out and destruction. Honorata Martin, working and living in Gdańsk, is a multimedia artist, painter and performer. She is known for the radicalism of her actions and her search for the boundaries of physical and mental endurance. She studies extreme situations and the strong emotions that accompany the overcoming of one’s own fears. Łukasz Surowiec is an interdisciplinary artist and author of social actions. He is interested in political and historical interpersonal relations, but also the body and its borders. He practices socially engaged art — he works with marginalised people and initiates processes that often reveal the most uncomfortable problems.

The curator of this year’s exhibition is Dorota Monkiewicz — a long-time curator of contemporary art at the National Museum in Warsaw, author of the concept and director of the Wrocław Contemporary Museum (until 2016). She is currently associated with the Centre of Polish Sculpture in Orońsko.

The competition exhibition at Zachęta will start on the 8th of September 2017. The winners will be announced on the 26th of October. The winner will receive a prize of 60 000 PLN (15 000 Euro) and the second place prize is a study trip to Villa Romana in Florence. Traditionally, an audience award will also be presented.

The Views – Deutsche Bank Award competition, held every two years (since 2003) is a project aimed at supporting the development of young Polish art. Thanks to this initiative, we can honour the most interesting artistic positions and promote the best artists of the young generation in Poland and abroad.

As a result of the nominating committee’s deliberations held on March 17th 2017, the following artists were selected to participate in the 8th edition of The Views 2017 - Deutsche Bank Award: Ewa Axelrad, Przemysław Branas, Agata Kus, Honorat Martin, Łukasz Surowiec.

The artists were selected by a nominating committee consisting of: Magda Kardasz, Piotr Lisowski, Ewa Łączyńska-Widz, Paulina Ołowska (chairwoman), Stanisław Ruksza, Piotr Stasiowski, Stach Szabłowski.

The winner will be selected from among the participants by a seven-person Jury.

Ewa Axelrad

(born 1984) — author of installations, photography, video and sculptural objects. She graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznań and the Royal College of Art in London. The artist is mainly interested in the potential of the change in power and the dynamics of the process, as well as the role of aesthetics and design in social space. One of the recurring themes in her work is violence observed in social relationships and its manifestations in everyday objects or architecture. Axelrad’s explorations concern the past, both personal experiences and events present in collective memory. She is the laureate of the ‘Young Poland’ scholarship. Her works are in several collections, among others of Wrocław Contemporary Museum, Encouragement of Contemporary Art in Szczecin, Centre of Contemporary Art Znaki Czasu in Toruń, Museum in Gliwice, Griffin Art Space. She lives and works in London and Gliwice. She collaborates with BWA Warszawa gallery.

Ewa Axelrad

What work are you showing at the Views exhibition?
I will show a film and an installation from a new series called Shtamah. Rooted firmly in modern Polish, the word derives from the German Stamm, ‘tribe’. The need of group identification, a sense of collective identity, and the resulting sense of power are a theme that affect all of us, particularly in recent years, and not only in Poland. Patriotism and its side effect — nationalism — become the focus of my installation comprised of flag shafts and poles. The characteristic ‘8’ that you trace when waving a flag has lent this work a sinusoid shape. The other work, a short film, tackles the subject of the seductive power of armour and heroic martyrology. It takes its point of departure in the notion of esprit de corps, meaning a ‘sense of unity and of common purpose among the members of a group’, such as the military, and allowing those feeling it to push their physical limits as the result of a virtually transcendental sense that they are part of a larger entity. Ludwik Stomma, a researcher of the phenomenon, calls it a ‘brotherhood in arms, athletic love, contempt for the ‘other’, the uniform in place of mawkish conscience’. I’ve been interested in military iconography for a long time, but particularly so recently, when it has been increasingly embraced by paramilitary and radical nationalist groups. The allure of the uniform is something I am well familiar with — and certainly not immune to — but still approach it with a critical distance; this dissonance makes the subject particularly interesting to me.

How do you perceive the Polish art scene today and your own place in it?
Generally speaking, Polish art is engaged, not necessarily always in political or
social terms, but there is lots of substance to it, which I guess owes largely to the fact that a lot has happened and been happening in our country, meaning there are many issues to work through. There is no place for half-committed positions, if only because artists simply can’t afford it. My view is that of both an insider and an outsider. After my studies in Poznań I moved to London, so I draw from my experiences in both contexts. Functioning between two realities, you see certain things more clearly. Of course, in such situations there is always the risk of oversimplifying, but I try to avoid that and always re-examine and cross-reference my ideas with facts before making any statements. Nothing is black-or-white. I’m interested in complexity, not in simple answers.

What do you expect from a private patron and what from a public institution?
An artwork is a form of dialogue, so the sense that it meets with a response, that you co-create something with others, is incredibly important. Working with people who believe in you is absolutely crucial, it’s moral fuel. On the other hand, there is the matter of funding, since we are unable to function without it. A fine public institution is like an arena — it gives you a voice. Private sponsorship, I believe, can amplify this voice and give it more air.

Przemek Branas

(born 1987) — performer, author of videos and installations. He graduated from the Intermedia Department of the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków and is currently a PhD student of Interdisciplinary Doctoral Studies at the Poznań University of Arts. In his works he links biographical threads with symbols. He is interested in crossing the barriers determined by the body, culture and mechanisms of social functioning. He took part in the Embodied Action Festival in Hong Kong (2016) GUYU ACTION Performance Art Festival in Xi’an (China, 2016), Polish Performance Night, Le Lieu Gallery in Quebec (2014). In 2013, he received the scholarship of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, and in 2015 he was awarded the Grey House Foundation Award. He was a resident of Meet Factory in Prague (2016), Sesama in Jakarta (2017) and Terra Foundation for American Art in Giverny (2017). He lives and works in Jarosław.

Przemek Branas

What work are you showing at the Views exhibition?
On 16 December 1922 in Warsaw, during the annual Salon of the Society for the Encouragement of the Fine Arts at the Zachęta, Eligiusz Niewiadomski assassinates President Gabriel Narutowicz. The killer is sentenced to death, a verdict he asked for himself. He is executed by a firing squad on 31 January 1923. On 19 November 1971 American artist Chris Burden is shot with a rifle by his assistant. The historic performance, Shoot, recorded with a Super 8 camera, took place at the F-Space Gallery in Santa Ana, California. On 19 December 2016, the Russian ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, is opening the exhibition Russia Through Turks’ Eyes. From Kaliningrad to Kamchatka, at
the Museum of Modern Art in Ankara. He is shot dead by an off-duty Turkish police officer who has been planning his attack for a long time. In all three stories, it is clear what the motivations of the parties involved were, both the perpetrator and the victim. I’ve decided to combine all those into a single narrative. Working with history and the archive and redefining their aspects through the contemporary is my key preoccupation. Asking whether what we see is the truth makes me a person balancing on the verge of truth and myth.

How do you perceive the Polish art scene today and your own place in it?
Things are great. I’m not complaining, for why should I? I’ve met many wonderful people and I hope to meet more still. I have a warm and cosy home called Polish Art, though it could be a little bit more open. How do I situate myself as an artist? Between the letters A and Z; right after A: Branas. In the metaphor above: somewhere in the anteroom of our nice home.

What do you expect from a private patron and what from a public institution?
Working with people is a very important part of my being an artist. I have expectations in the first place of myself. The rest is a matter of agreement. A private sponsor? Rather in the role of a trusted person who minds the common good. An institution? Less institutional and more courageous.

Agata Kus

(born 1987) — painter, video artist. She is a graduate of the Department of Painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków (diploma in 2012 in Leszek Misiak’s studio). She paints first and foremost people, her compositions are characterised by a multitude of narratives, equivocal meanings, and ambiguity. She likes to play with form, such as painting collages, pseudo-cutouts, stickers, blurring and destruction of the painting layers. She is laureate of many awards and scholarships, including the main prize of the WRO Media Art Biennale 2015 in Wrocław for her multichannel video installation The Lover. Her paintings are, among others, in the Museum of Contemporary Art MOCAK in Kraków, the National Museum in Gdańsk, and numerous private collections in Poland and abroad. She lives and works in Kraków.

Agata Kus

What work are you showing at the Views exhibition?
The continuing trend in art, driven by artists described by Jakub Banasiak as ‘reality-weary’, seems to be at odds with my paintings. Most of them are based on realistic representations, photographs and collages, images of actors and literary figures that matter to me. I try nonetheless to unrealise them in my own way, to find ambiguous, slightly disturbing contexts for them. My new series, part of which is featured in this year’s Views, differs from the older works. Instead of beautiful, intriguing girls, I’ve decided to paint ugly but vigorous boy. Above all, however, I fulfil the desire to portray a community I feel emotionally bound with and the original, amazing persons that with their colourful life provide me with me inspirations and themes imbued with mystery and humour — qualities I appreciate the most.

In The Tenant, Roland Topor reveals that the protagonist is not at all possessed, but mad. Building an imaginary story of the Tenant, I rely on a similar mood and paint the image of a musician performing a self-care activity in a Toporesque, slightly spasmodic gesture. In November 1791, gravely ill and expecting his imminent demise, Mozart works on his Requiem. Bed-stricken, he composes the first 8 bars of his opus magnum, the Lacrimosa (‘flood of tears’) movement. In August 2016, feeling weak and suffering from a hangover, Michał Jan Dymny is almost done with his guitar rehearsal. Exhausted, he composes in his bed, causing a flood of tears with Lacrimal eye-drops. We don’t know if he wants to see more or less; to become more sensitive to stimuli or to desensitise himself. Mozart reportedly burst into tears with the first bars of the Lacrimosa. Further on, after luceat eis, the common pleading ends on a note of consolation: Mozart comforts us that everything is going to be all right because mercy exists. Tears bring relief. The painting brings to mind Hieronymus Bosch’s representation of the ‘extraction of the stone of madness’. Showing the composer in the elaborate pose, I seek also to make a formal reference to the paintings of Caravaggio, whose theatrical compositions of tensely intertwined male arms and legs are for me as distinctive a trademark of his work as are chiaroscuro effects. My Caravaggio is immersed in the whiteness of Ikea bed linens. And in this bed-sheet whiteness he experiences the pain of existence.
The image is a combination of two cross-fading figures and forms that comprise a whole. The first pair (in black and white) is a variation on the photographs and stories presented to me by Marcin Świetlicki, who appears in the photo as a teenager. His first childhood girlfriend watches him with an overbearing gaze while he strokes the dog. We don’t know if he fondles the animal or hurts it at the girl’s bidding. Hence the title of the unfinished painting, an allusion to Gombrowicz’s novel, in whose work we can find numerous similar stories. I gave up working on the half-finished piece two years ago. It is only now that I’ve found the right key to it, combining it with another peculiar contemporary duo. The protagonist, Ola I., wears a slightly anachronisticlooking dress and smokes a cigarette in a theatrical way. The combined representations reveal latent sexual tension, a kind of ritual, celebration.
Jadwiga 2017
The painting makes an obvious reference to the tombstone of Queen Jadwiga at the Wawel Cathedral in what is an ironic commentary on the attitudes of today’s 30-year-olds who, accustomed to a comfortable and carefree life, equate having children with social death. The monument is dedicated to the heroism of my friend, Elżbieta M.
The painting shows my friends, the band Neal Cassady & The Fabulous Ensemble, inebriated, during a concert at a club in Warsaw. At first sight, it may again allude to the thirtysomething generation, to people who prefer to remain in the comfort zone and who release their aggression and energy through rowdy behaviour in bars. The singer is falling on the drum kit. The guitar player is making a domineering gesture. Collaged phantom girls lose their heads for the boys, and the shadow of Nosferatu’s hand conducts the vampiric symphony of horror.

How do you perceive the Polish art scene today and your own place in it?
Rapid changes in cognitive schemas and a move away from hierarchical structures in the matter of acquiring experiences through the power of authority have been an interesting phenomenon. Despite the claims of numerous curators, who argue that the current trends are rooted in the history of Polish art, I believe that these processes have assumed the structure of a rhizome, as described by Deleuze and Guattari in A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Artists, especially those of the younger generation, also enjoy unlimited access to information, images, and novelties from around the world. We no longer need to seek access, travel, or spend 20 bucks on international magazines to find out what’s going on in New York and London, in galleries large and small, in the studios and homes of different artists. Communication, multiplicity, and heterogeneity of the rhizome known as Instagram, which reduces the value of all reproductions to equally small icons, means that Mexican artists matter as much to as the Kraków art scene. This is worth remembering when we gush over the apparent uniqueness of new trends in Polish art; the Web may be full of such stuff.

What do you expect from a private patron and what from a public institution?
As a painter, it’s much harder for me to imagine such a combination that would
make possible the satisfactory accomplishment of intended goals, but I see interesting possibilities of supporting such artistic disciplines as performance, happening, theatre, or all kinds of intermedia. The modern, egalitarian character of the global online society has been vigorously creating tools and systems for not only promoting but also funding such practices, and these make it possible to circumvent the more or less satisfactorily functioning aspects of traditional arts patronage. Perhaps in the near future we will no longer need wealthy sponsors, whether private, corporate, or institutional, on whose influence and politics we may become dependent. We now have crowdfunding sites, and information and marketing can be instantly shared on social media, reaching vast numbers of people. Yet traditional canvas painting still retains its elitist character. This is something one can hardly deny or oppose.

Honorata Martin

(born 1984) — painter, performer, multimedia artist. In the years 2004–2009 she studied at the Painting Department of the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk (diploma in Mieczysław Olszewski’s studio, annex in Intermedia with Wojciech Zamiara). In 2007, she studied for one semester at Marmara University in Istanbul. The artist is known for the radicalism of her actions. The subject of her interest are extreme situations, strong emotions that accompany the overcoming of fears, crossing the limits of mental and physical endurance. She is a winner of the 3rd Geppert Award (2011) and the audience award at the Gdańsk Biennial of Art (2012). In 2015, she received the following awards: in the category of Culture and Art in the Polacy z werwą plebiscite; in the category of Culture — Discovery of the Year in the Pomorskie sztormy plebiscite, and the nomination to the Splendor Gedanensis Award, Gdańsk City Award for Young Creators of Culture. In 2016 she was nominated for the Polityka Passport Award. She lives and works in Gdańsk.

Honorata Martin

What work are you showing at the Views exhibition?
When my grandfather died, grandma almost invisibly cleared out his stuff —
a museum-like collection of everything, assembled in a flat on the tenth floor of a block in Gdańsk. Some things probably disappeared, the rest seemed very important. When grandma died, all the belongings lost their meaning. Today my father returned from southern Italy. He told me terrifying stories of people who had to abandon their homes. They dream of going back, in the meantime trying to assimilate and forget. Together with my boyfriend, we are trying to create a home in our car, I mean, he is more into it. Privileged (so far), safe and bored, we will willingly live in such a small space. When we’re fed up with it, we can come back. Unless something unexpected happens. When I was working on Going out into Poland, I realised how sense of security is important. During the Make Yourself at Home performance I had this sense thanks to people who accepted me. I was then trying to experience it; today, overwhelmed by a multitude of frustrating questions, I want to answer them with a simple gesture. I am not sure if it is possible at all — to put together so many different meanings of ‘home’. I don’t want to produce new objects. I want to build a sensible model made of things which lost their meaning, a model reminding of those who lost their foundation of security and permanence. I want to face issues I feel overshadowed with since I was a child. I wonder if such attachment to things still makes sense in the modern world, or will various forms of nomadism dominate in the near future.

How do you perceive the Polish art scene today and your own place in it?
Few things surprise me, but there are times when something gets me excited. The same applies to myself: I seldom catch myself by surprise, but sometimes there is a sparkle. So you can say I fall in line.

What do you expect from a private patron and what from a public institution?
I see a bug in the lamp. I’ll leave it alone and let it do what it wants. I’ll let it live
in my lamp. And I’ll keep looking at it.

Łukasz Surowiec

(born 1985) — interdisciplinary artist, sculptor, performer, author of videos, and social actions. Between 2007 and 2009, he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznań, in the years 2009–2010, at the Universität der Künste in Berlin. He graduated from the Faculty of Sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków and was a doctoral student at the Faculty of Art at the Pedagogical University in Kraków. He is interested in political and historical issues, human relations, but also the body and its limits. He deals with socially engaged art, works with marginalised people, and initiates activities that illustrate the most uncomfortable problems. His most prominent projects include Berlin Birkenau (2012), Waiting Room (2015), Tear Dealer (2014) and Clinic (2016). He received scholarships of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage: education scholarship in 2009, creative — in 2012 and 2016, and for the best PhD students in 2017. He lives and works in Bytom and Kraków.

Łukasz Surowiec

What work are you showing at the Views exhibition?
The project that I’m preparing for Views is formally similar to my earlier works
featuring the motif of economically utopian modes of exchange. This time I’ve
decided to take advantage of my skills in the field of apparel design to create
a collection inspired by the image of antifascist demonstrators using the ‘black
block’ tactic, which basically means wearing identity-concealing clothing. Designed and tailored, the garments will be presented with appropriate gadgets in a manner characteristic for the fashion industry. Spectators will be able to view, choose, try on, and buy them. The difference is in the mode of distribution. The chosen product can be acquired in two ways: through the classic procedure of purchase and through exchange. In order to acquire the product through the latter mode, one needs to submit photographic documentation, including a rights release form, or a self-made banner, confirming one’s participation in strikes or protests against all forms of power, eviction, exploitation, racism, fascism, xenophobia, or in protests/demonstrations in the defence of jobs, minorities, or social justice. The materials could eventually be made into a book or exhibition, and the funds collected would make possible the project’s continuation. Drawing on the
aesthetic of street-demonstration tactics, the project is an attempt to promote and broaden knowledge on resistance strategies and anarcho-syndicalist ideas raised by contemporaries. It seems to me that an exhibition sponsored by one of the world’s largest banks is an excellent place for disseminating such ideas.

How do you perceive the Polish art scene today and your own place in it?
One of the most critical opinions I’ve recently heard is that my projects are stuck in the classic paradigms of art. Due to my interests, however, I consider myself more as a practitioner of post-art, that is, a producer of phenomena embedded in social and everyday life. The present-day art scene seems to have been increasingly leaning in precisely this direction. Visual artists are making works no longer just to be shown in galleries, but to be actually used. Examples include recent exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, e.g., Making Use, which raised themes of going beyond the field of art as well as including ‘outside’ practices, or Bread and Roses, which showed examples of fighting for the social rights of artists themselves. Aware of the art’s agency, artists are reaching for weapons of their own making. One should note here their unprecedented struggle for worker rights, the foundation of the Civic Forum of Contemporary Art, the establishment of an artists’ committee with the Inicjatywa Pracownicza labour union, or the 1st Congress of Post-Artistic Practices, held this year in Lublin. A preoccupation with the ‘application’ of art has also been evident in the work of debutants, to name but the Szczecin and Poznań exhibition The Hour of Three
or the Decadence/Souvenir Shop project by Academy of Fine Arts in
Warsaw students. It seems to me that the Polish visual arts scene where art is construed as the struggle for a new reality is only emerging, and future phenomena are what interests me the most.

What do you expect from a private patron and what from a public institution?
Public institutions have duties — private ones have whims. I belong to those artists whose projects are largely produced by the former, whereas most of the works I sell go to private collectors and foundations. So from the economic point of view, public institutions build and accumulate capital, whereas private sponsors also make investments. That’s basically what I know about these matters.

Related events
  • Grafika wydarzenia:
    29.09 (Fri) 17:00
    Zachęta – National Gallery of ArtZachęta
  • Grafika wydarzenia:
    01.10 (Sun) 00:00
    Zachęta – National Gallery of ArtZachęta
  • Grafika wydarzenia: Meeting with Przemek Branas | Views 2017
    05.10 (Thu) 18:00
    Meeting with Przemek Branas | Views 2017
    Zachęta – National Gallery of ArtZachęta
  • Grafika wydarzenia: Zachęta Signs!
    12.10 (Thu) 17:00
    Zachęta Signs!
    Zachęta – National Gallery of ArtZachęta
Related media
  • Grafika obiektu: Zachęta. July, August, September, October 2017
    mediateka / folders / Texts
    Zachęta. July, August, September, October 2017
  • Grafika obiektu: VIEWS 2017 –  Deutsche Bank Award
    mediateka / posters
    VIEWS 2017 – Deutsche Bank Award


VIEWS 2017
Deutsche Bank Award
09.09 – 12.11.2017

Zachęta – National Gallery of Art
pl. Małachowskiego 3, 00-916 Warsaw
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Godziny otwarcia:
Tuesday – Sunday 12–8 p.m.
Thursday – free entry
ticket office is open until 7.30 p.m.