The Warsaw Voice » Culture » Monthly - December 13, 2015
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Rebuilding Poland from Ruins
Images of a country left devastated by World War II and of the efforts undertaken to rebuild Poland following the defeat of Nazi Germany are on show in a new exhibition at the Zachęta National Gallery of Art in Warsaw.

The Just After the War exhibition presents audiences with a shocking picture of Poland as it was in 1945 and in the years that followed. World War II had left the country in chaos and poverty. Masses of people were displaced from their home towns and many lived in fear of the Red Army. The late 1940s were also a time of rampant looting, lynching and pogroms. The country was unstable, the surviving population was distrustful of the new communist authorities and nobody could be sure how long the new, postwar national borders would remain intact.

The Zachęta exhibition illustrates those turbulent times with propaganda posters, photographs of ruins and with reconstruction plans.

Just After the War explores how the complex social and political tensions in postwar Poland were reflected in the visual arts, photography, film, architecture and industrial design. Items on show include hundreds of works of art in addition to a large body of archival materials. Propaganda posters and films urging Poles to cooperate with the new authorities are displayed side by side with depictions of a devastated country and of efforts to rebuild Poland. Razed to the ground, Warsaw presented urban planners and architects with an opportunity to carry out some near-Utopian projects.

Just After the War also shows how the shadow of the Holocaust still loomed large after the war, with a lot of effort going into commemorating the victims in memorials and museums at former death camps. These efforts are contrasted in the exhibition with postwar anti-Semitism.

Artists featured in the exhibition include Mieczysław Jan Bułhak, Zbigniew Dłubak, Xawery Dunikowski, Maria Jarema, Tadeusz Kantor and Andrzej Wróblewski.

Until Jan. 10
Zachęta National Gallery of Art, 3 Małachowskiego Sq., Warsaw