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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » September 29, 2014
Exhibitions
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Pop Icons of the ‘80s: A Different World
September 29, 2014   
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Black-and-white portraits of Polish pop icons of the 1980s and ‘90s are on show in a photographic exhibition by Andrzej ¦wietlik at the Lookout Gallery in Warsaw.

Regarded as one of Poland’s best contemporary photographers, ¦wietlik is well known for his work with the neo-avant-garde art group called ŁódĽ Kaliska. The new exhibition, entitled Arty¶ci starali się przychodzić, chętnie (The Artists Were Happy to Try to Stop By), showcases another side to his work—portraits commissioned for use in advertising at a time when commercial photographers were still free to shoot pictures on their own terms. The title echoes the atmosphere of photo sessions from the ‘80s and ‘90s, when ¦wietlik’s studio was visited by musicians, actors, set designers as well as personal friends and family members. Famous figures who posed for ¦wietlik included popular singers such as Kora Jackowska, Czesław Niemen, Maryla Rodowicz and Grzegorz Ciechowski (pictured). The shoots were often like social get-togethers. ¦wietlik’s distinctive portraits, shot against simple, monochromatic backdrops, were featured on record sleeves, in the illustrated press and in advertisements.

It may seem the photographs were taken not so long ago, but when it comes to the media, a whole era has passed since then. Back then, photographers did not have a vast array of digital tools to retouch their work and the pop icons they portrayed were not the disposable celebrities of today, while photographers were not forced to choose between art and commerce.

When seen this way, the exhibition is a like a glimpse into a previous era, even though ¦wietlik continues to work the way he did decades ago.

M.R.

Until Nov. 8; Lookout Gallery, 41/22 Puławska St.; www.lookoutgallery.com.pl
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