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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » June 29, 2012
Exhibitions
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Right-Wing Art on Display
June 29, 2012   
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The New National Art exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw explores national and patriotic themes in contemporary Polish visual culture.

Among the items on display are designs for a monument commemorating the 2010 crash of the Polish president’s plane in Smolensk, western Russia.

Also on display is a replica of the gigantic hand of the 36-meter Christ the King statue in ¦wiebodzin, western Poland—the world’s tallest statue of Jesus Christ.

As part of the exhibition, a wall at the Museum of Modern Art has been covered with a red-and-white mesh similar to that on the facade of the National Stadium in Warsaw. Visitors to the exhibition can also see work by young artists, comic books, murals and references to hip-hop.

According to Sebastian Cichocki, who together with Łukasz Ronduda is curating the exhibition, modern Polish art gravitates heavily towards the left in political terms. “At the same time, however, there is a massive amount of national, patriotic, politically involved, rightist art,” Cichocki said. “We might have been oblivious to it so far, but it has a far larger audience and impact than any exhibitions of contemporary art as we understand them. That’s why we’ve decided to take a closer look at it.” Cichocki and Ronduda spent the last several months researching what they call “national and patriotic realism in 21st-century Poland.”

“The chief purpose of national art is to strengthen national identity, which means that the esthetic side is of secondary importance,” said Ronduda.

The winning design of the Smolensk monument is shown in a separate room. One of the designers, architect Andrzej Sołyga, also designed a monument commemorating the Katyn massacre of 1940.

According to Cichocki, Sołyga’s works show how contemporary language can be used to discuss national traumas. The presidential plane crash is the subject of a painting entitled Smolensk by Zbigniew M. Dowgiałło, who allowed the picture to be brought to the exhibition from a church in Warsaw’s Bielany district, where it is normally displayed. Dowgiałło’s take on the Smolensk plane crash is highly expressive, with images of screaming human figures with their hearts torn out.

Items shown at the exhibition also include a 40-meter-long, green, yellow and white scarf of the Falubaz speedway club in the western city of Zielona Góra. The club’s fans used the gigantic scarf in a practical joke one night when they put it around the neck of the giant Christ the King statue in the nearby town of ¦wiebodzin.

The curators say the exhibition aims to “start a dialogue between politically involved artists who have differing political views.”
until Aug. 19
Museum of Modern Art; 3 Pańska St.
tel. 22 596-40-10, www.artmuseum.pl
Free admission
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