Zbigniew Warpechowski It
20.09 – 11.11.2014 Zbigniew Warpechowski It
Zachęta – National Gallery of Art
artist: Zbigniew Warpechowski
curators: Joanna Kordjak-Piotrowska, Dominik Kuryłek
collaboration: Katarzyna Kołodziej, Zuzanna Sękowska
... the important thing is the constant search for what is grander and better than me
The exhibition in Zachęta is the first such extensive presentation of the work of Zbigniew Warpechowski – a precursor of performance art in Poland and one of the first in the world to work in this genre – presenting documentation of several dozen of the actions realized by the artist over the course of the last 50 years.
The authors of the exhibition are aware of the paradox implicit in presenting in a gallery an art that is impossible to reproduce and ephemeral: one that is grounded in the uniqueness of what is experienced by the artist and the spectators. Documentation is merely a medium allowing a performance to have a more prolonged existence in time and space; it is not, however, the artist’s goal, as testified by the often poor technical quality of the video recordings made during actions. It is for this reason that the exhibition presents first and foremost those recordings which make it possible to get a sense of the artist’s striving to achieve authentic experiences and his sense of the metaphysical character of reality, as well as the desire to involve others in this process. Along with photographs and videos documenting performance actions, the exhibition also presents the texts the artist wrote to accompany them and preparatory sketches, as well as the props and costumes that also played a significant role in his actions. At various locations within the exhibition, a number of sites have been arranged in which Warpechowski’s performances could potentially be repeated.
The exhibition is conceived in such a way that the passage through it will relate to particular stages of a performance event: preparation (quiet reflection), realization (expressive or implosive action) and the release of tension (a contemplation of the event from a perspective of time).
This review presentation reveals Warpechowski’s work as surprisingly diverse and multi-thematic: from visual poetry and conceptual works, and works inspired by Eastern philosophy relating to the concept of “Nothing”, to realizations making use of the expressivity of a body sometimes submitted to extreme tests, aggression or auto-aggression and political engagement.
The performance actions – and the paintings, sculptures and poetry no less important for the artist – are shown in the context of Warpechowski’s connections with the counter-culture circles of Kraków, the Polish neo-avantgarde and his close relations with such artists as Tadeusz Kantor, Jerzy Bereś or Andrzej Partum. Also clearly depicted is Warpechowski’s participation in the world movement of action art.
Zbigniew Warpechowski (born 1938) – a precursor of performance art in Poland and one of the first artists in the world to work in this vein. Also a creator of paintings, poetry, art theory, philosophy and film sets. From 1985, he is a member of the second Kraków Group and the international group Black Market (from 1986). He is an author of books: Podręcznik (1990), Zasobnik (1998), Podnośnik (2001), Statecznik (2004), Podręcznik bis (2006), Konserwatyzm awangardowy (2014). He made his debut in Kraków with the poetic-musical action Improvisation (1967) involving the participation of Tomasz Stańko. Amongst his most famous actions can be counted Dialog z rybą/Dialogue with a Fish (1974), Dialog ze śmiercią/Dialogue with Death (1976) and Champion of Golgotha (1978).
Warpechowski. The Way of the Performer accompanies the exhibition “Zbigniew Warpechowski. It”. The publication contains video and photographic documentation of over 20 of the most important actions carried out by this precursor of performance art in Poland, one of the first in the world to work in this vein. In addition, the film includes Zbigniew Warpechwski's own comments on his work, as well as other artists and art critics: Adina Bar-On, Oskar Dawicki, Zuzanna Janin, Elisabeth Jappe, Grzegorz Królikiewicz, Alastair MacLennan, Boris Nieslony, Józef Robakowski, Tomasz Stańko and Ewa Zarzycka.
publisher: Zachęta – National Gallery of Art
created by: Jan Lubicz Przyłuski
This DVD features documentary footage from the artist’s archive (digitised by Barbara Maroń and Artur Tajber), from the film archive of Zderzak Gallery, Kraków (Poetry Is Dead, 1992), from the archive of Józef Robakowski (Dirty water, dir. Józef Robakowski, 1990), as well as excerpts from the following films: Living Gallery, 1974–1975, dir. Józef Robakowski, prod. WFO, Łódź; Champion off, 1979, dir. Małgorzata Potocka, prod. National Higher School of Film, Television and Theatre in Łódź; Being and Doing, 1984, dir. Stuart Brisley, Ken McMullen, prod. Arts Council/Concord Media Collection; The Differences, 2006, dir. Jan Przyłuski, prod. Studio Warszawa Centralna; Improvisations, 2008, dir. Jakub Kowalczyk, prod. Labirynt Gallery and Lublin Society for the Encouragement of Fine Arts. If not otherwise noted, photographs were taken from the artist’s archive.
Artist's works in the Zachęta collection
20.09 – 11.11.2014
Zachęta – National Gallery of Art
pl. Małachowskiego 3, 00-916 Warsaw
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Tuesday – Sunday 12–8 p.m.
Thursday – free entry
ticket office is open until 7.30 p.m.