No 4 (84) 2010
October - December

Made in Poland

Ottakring - the district in Vienna where the gallery is situated - is mainly inhabited by immigrants. With regard to inspiring multi cultural aspects, Ottakring has been a great driving force behind all types of artistic activity, gradually becoming a new, alternative art center.

Zuzanna Rokita

The Jagiellonian University Art History Faculty student and Cracow Academy of Fine Arts Painting Faculty student.

Zuzanna Rokita

THE BEST EVIDENCE is provided by - the annually held since 1999 - interdisciplinary festival, Soho in Ottakring strongly rooted in the social and political context of the city.

The lately opened "(con)temporary vienna by ardizon gallery" headed by Roman Lechner has been perfectly fitted into the local climate considering its participation in the Soho in Ottakring festival, as well as the "Made in Poland" exhibition described here.

Bernd Smodics, the curator and gallery owner, managed to show works by the artists representing three different artistic stands in a relatively small space.

Canvases by Julita Malinowska (1979) have been displayed in the largest room, being the only pieces visible in the window separating the gallery from the nearby street. The same window introduces additional divisions of the interior that correspond to the ones present in the pictures, underlying the balance between the abstract and illusive, as well as differences between the spaces painted.

Julita Malinowska has depicted people on the beach. In her works, however, the mundane motive adopts a new quality and serves as an element of the game. An illusory, and simultaneously synthetic approach to the represented characters - who are playing and enjoying themselves - makes seemingly familiar gestures look strange. Ritualistic. The presence of her characters has been subordinated to purely painting oriented requirements, such as composition, palette or space. By the same token, she suggests their absence, a "picture like" approach, a question about the reality of the memories from the trip painted by the artist.

Works by Staszek Koba (1957) offer a completely different story. Small size pieces, maintained in a monochromatic palette limited to the whites, blacks, the ochre of a hardboard or raw canvas they have been made on; they are a record of impressions from the artist's atelier. Hung in several rows, closely side by side, displayed on a narrow shelf or on the floor by the wall, they only seemingly give an impression of a mess, mixed aesthetics and motives. In fact, this arrangement, in a way opposing a natural order, underlines a unique nature of individual pieces.

Koba shows a cognitive approach to art. His painting has been a result of a deep reflection on the rules governing the world of art. Thus, he treats a picture as an autonomous existence, based not on an illusion but on material qualities represented in the color, foundation, and paint matter. In fact, he rather creates independent objects instead of depicting them.

The output by Marek Firek (1958) - covering many areas - has been showed in the last room, neighboring the WC behind the corridor (the toilette might be an allusion to the fact that his pictures were once presented in the Bregenz gallery toilette). The exhibited works continue the assumptions developed in the period of his cooperation with the Ładnie (Nice) Group (1994-2002). Generally, these have been focused on unveiling the mechanisms governing the art market, earlier formulated theoretically by the artist who differentiated the nice art, the farce art, the venal, the conjunction oriented, the conformist, etc. ...

Besides ceramic cell phones from the art per kilo series, the exotic islands series, still not completed for a lack of sponsor, and some pictures showing a conceptual approach to pornographic contents, the artist displayed the green canvas featuring a slogan: "Green color is most trendy in art (...) you can steal...". He provided a small knife to cut off a fragment, and a related series of Polish cars that can be stolen later, during the "car show" in Bregenz.

This seemingly nonchalant combination of different artists perfectly fits into an easy climate of Ottakring. The result has been surprisingly authentic, offering a rare in Poland opportunity to have a detached look at the works by the artists, and approach traditional Polish values with a pinch of salt.

"Made in Poland", Marek Firek, Stanisław Koba, Julita Malinowska, the Ardizon Gallery, Vienna, August - September 2010.