Włodzimierz Pawlak Self-portrait in afterimages

08.09 – 02.11.2008 Włodzimierz Pawlak Self-portrait in afterimages

Zachęta National Gallery of Art

curator: Agnieszka Szewczyk
collaboration: Julia Leopold
exhibition design: Grzegorz Rytel, Agnieszka Szewczyk

Włodzimierz Pawlak (born 1957) – painter, performer, poet, art theoretician, member of Gruppa (one of the most important artistic collectives of the 1980s) – had until now never had either a comprehensive solo exhibition or an exhaustive publication about his work. The Zachęta show will be the first retrospective presentation of the artist’s oeuvre, covering the years 1984-2008.

The structure of the exhibition, which presents the paintings in a chronological sequence, has been dictated chiefly by the need to present the main threads and themes of Pawlak’s practice. The first section are works from the Gruppa period (1982–1989), usually referring to contemporary events, politics, or history, as well as works of existential and autobiographical themes. The second section are the Journals and white paintings (1989–2004), a colour the artist believes to be formally and symbolically supreme. Shown here are also the Painted-over Paintings, the artist’s earlier works which he painted white in the early 1990s, thus returning to the issue, tackled in his graduation project and present in his practice since then, of ‘creation-destruction’. The third section features paintings devoted to the analysis of theoretical painting problems, the patrons of which are Kazimir Malevich and Władysław Strzemiński (from 1988), with series such as The History of Colour, Notes on Art, The Logical Space of the Picture, Colour Line, Pencil Line. Shown in this section are also Pawlak’s sculptures-objects, built with everyday items, found objects, and painting utensils. In a way, these sculptures are appendixes to the paintings, their three-dimensional, spatial equivalents.

While the division into the three sections is justified chronologically as well, adopting only such a perspective would leave out important aspects of the artist’s painting practice. Though not stylistically invariable, it is a practice that has been highly consistent, hence the thematic arrangement of the show. The two central axes running across Pawlak’s entire oeuvre could be defined as, firstly, the artist’s individual experience, and secondly, a fascination with the formal problems of painting (construed more broadly than just technique). An interpretation of Pawlak’s painting would be incomplete without a third element, which represents an important point of reference – namely, his writings, many of which have been featured in the catalogue.

Besides an anthology of the artist’s texts, the catalogue includes also critical essays by Maryla Sitkowska, Agnieszka Szewczyk, and Janusz Zagrodzki, reproductions, a chronology, and a complete catalogue of the artist’s paintings. It is the first ever so comprehensive a publication about Włodzimierz Pawlak’s art, prepared in a bilingual, Polish-English version.

Artist's works in the Zachęta collection

  • Zdjęcie pracy Ink Drawing
    Ink DrawingWłodzimierz Pawlak2004
  • Zdjęcie pracy Nuances
    NuancesWłodzimierz Pawlak1985
  • Zdjęcie pracy Obraz mistyczny
    Obraz mistycznyWłodzimierz Pawlak1985
  • Zdjęcie pracy Adolf Hitler
    Adolf HitlerWłodzimierz Pawlak1986
  • Zdjęcie pracy Twenty-one Churches
    Twenty-one ChurchesWłodzimierz Pawlak1988
  • Zdjęcie pracy Journal No. 16
    Journal No. 16Włodzimierz Pawlak1990
  • Zdjęcie pracy Journal No. 30
    Journal No. 30Włodzimierz Pawlak1991
  • Zdjęcie pracy Poles Forming Their National Flag
    Poles Forming Their National FlagWłodzimierz Pawlak1997
  • Zdjęcie pracy Journal No. 2
    Journal No. 2Włodzimierz Pawlak1989
  • Zdjęcie pracy Journal No. 1
    Journal No. 1Włodzimierz Pawlak1988
  • Zdjęcie pracy Flies
    FliesWłodzimierz Pawlak1983
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    Włodzimierz Pawlak. Self-portrait in afterimages


Włodzimierz Pawlak
Self-portrait in afterimages
08.09 – 02.11.2008

Zachęta National Gallery of Art
pl. Małachowskiego 3, 00-916 Warsaw
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The exhibition supported by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland and by the Art NEW media gallery.
sponsors of the gallery: Peri, Leroy Merlin, Netia, Klima San
sponsors of the opening ceremony: A.Blikle, Freixenet
media patronage: Gazeta Wyborcza, Polityka, TVP, TOK FM, The Warsaw Voice, Onet.pl, Art&Business, empik