No 1 (89) 2012
January - March

The Young in Słupsk

The young art reviews have been a popular phenomenon. Among these the "Fish Eye" Young Art Biennial - held at the Contemporary Art Baltic Gallery - has earned a high reputation.

Justyna Ryczek

PhD; she works for the Art University in Poznań; the author of the book “Beauty in the Postmodern Culture”.

Justyna Ryczek

THIS HAS BEEN AN IMPORTANT EVENT, LAST BUT NOT LEAST, TAKING PLACE OUTSIDE WARSAW. An exhibition by invited artists has evolved into an open competition held every two years regularly. Piotr Bernatowicz has reminded the Biennial history in the accompanying text, and underlined its present significance. The Biennial is worth propagating as proved by this year edition for which 170 artists applied. 14 artists have been qualified. Out of these, the jury - composed of Piotr Bernatowicz, Sebastian Cichocki, Adam Mazur, Roman Lewandowski, Edyta Wolska - have selected the prizewinners. Nevertheless, all displayed projects have won a chance to mark their existence in public. I went to Słupsk full of curiosity "seasoned" with concern. I hoped for a good exposition, new intriguing names, and for the "Fish Eye" to survey various acts of creation. This has caused a certain anxiety. I was afraid that the exhibition might be a heterogeneous mix, a chaos of single artistic worlds, not a shared undertaking. I got pleasantly surprised. I saw good works, and what is equally important, an interesting and well arranged exposition. The pieces have been appropriately selected, as far as their interrelation is concerned, and well displayed, thus adding value to less strong items. This has been a great merit of Wolska and Lewandowski, the curators. Topical and media oriented variety have been a result of a beforehand selection of applicants, nevertheless, the way of presentation stressed both, the differences, as well as noticeable similarities. The jury decided to grant a main award to Michał Bugalski, a graduate of the Poznań Art University Photography Faculty, for the Nobody Looked after Us series. Adam Mazur described his works in the catalogue: "Nobody Looked after Us sounds gloomy and ambiguous, and this is how the photographs by Bugalski look like. As though nobody cried over us, nobody called us, nobody missed us, as though we never existed, as though nobody cared for us. All this has a certain post romantic shade." The author verges on the border of documentary and staged photography, and cleverly develops a certain mood. Melancholy has been accompanied by amusement, fear contrasted with the reflection on the picture itself. He skillfully brings back and involves into the game remembered frames, as one had a chance to see on the exhibition that presented Evening Wind, the second of the series submitted for the competition. Both are mutually merging. The Pomeranian Region Marshall Award went to Agnieszka Popek-Banach and Kamil Banach (both graduates of the Poznań Art University Graphic Art Faculty) for the Locomotive by Julian Tuwim. A familiar to all of us rhyme has been illustrated with the photographs from Auschwitz Birkenau. An innocence of fanny verses have been completely lost, and - when looked at with regard to the poet's biography - marked with an individual drama. The drawings by Magdalena Starska were awarded a special mention, three further distinctions - in the form of invitations to put on one-man exhibitions at the Gallery in 2012 - went to: Monika Drożyńska, Aleksandra Włodarczyk and Sabina Fabryczny.

The verdicts have been well-aimed. I would additionally distinguish photographs by Dorota Kozieradzka, in particular the After Hours series. Technically good, intriguing with regard to the subject matter, deliberately selected and appropriately displayed; they remain in one' memory for long. Further, I would be very glad to see more of very interesting pictures by Sabina Fabryczny. I remember well the project by Aleksnadra Włodarczyk, full of melancholy and ambiguities; as well as the geographic picture by Wiktor Dyndo.

Certainly, the "Fish Eye" 6th Young Biennial has not offered easily recognized "hot" names of young artists, even though an overwhelming majority have already marked their presence in the artistic world exceeding their circles. Lack of top names has been a positive feature that lets expand the point of view. I will definitely follow the development of many artists from the Biennial. I would be happy to see comprehensive exhibitions by some of them. I would be inclined myself to organize exhibitions for some (Kozieradzka, Fabryczny). It is obvious that among 13 projects some are absolutely not worth remembering, thus I have not mentioned these at all.

The "Fish Eye" 6th Young Art Biennial, the Contemporary Art Baltic Gallery, the Chamber Gallery, the Witches Tower, Słupsk, October - November 2011.