15.09.2006 - 17.10.2006
Art Agenda Nova
Batorego 2, Krakow
Sayonara Poppy by Edward Wołowski is the second after the For you and me exhibition of an American artist in Krakow. Art Agenda Nova will present its latest works. In contrast to the previous exhibition, all the works shown were created during the artist's stay in Poland, which is not devoid of meaning because of the subject matter of the work as well as personal perspective - Wołowski has Polish roots.
The problem of communication, tensions between visual and verbal language and the resulting receiving errors, so current in For you and me, is also visible in the latest works. The subject of the artist's reflection became, this time, social communication - no longer connected strictly with the media and immanently conditioning their features - an image of the state of public awareness. Wołowski thus undertakes an extremely popular, fashionable subject of the image and related strategies from the borderline of public relations. An exogenous look at contemporary Poland through the eyes of a foreigner, free from the internal context shaping national autopreception (however, often stopping on stereotypical images, judgments), allows us to see more clearly the dominants of our social and public reality.
Wołowski in his works made a kind of synthesis of the image of contemporary Poland seen from the perspective modeling our international image of public debates that took place after 1989. The thorny, divisive problems of abortion, homophobia, anti-Semitism, the figure of Pope John Paul II, and finally the role of the family in social life were presented in a neutral way. The work is not an attempt to criticize the Polish mentality from the point of view of liberal standards of Western societies, the artist departs from a simple assessment of phenomena in favor of signaling the problem of a negative image of Poland, which exemplifies articles in the European press. Simplified, hurting opinions of Poles, often based on stereotypes and prejudices, combined in one exhibition are a challenge not only for individuals, society, but also for the authorities.
The artist's graphics provoke, but they are far from the cheap tabloid sensations, their critical potential does not affect the statistical consciousness of the Pole, because the truth about it is not compatible with the schematicism of stereotypes, it rather affects the sin of omission. The image of contemporary Poland in the opinion of a tourist often takes the shape of a postcard, the meaning of which is far from our wishes. It results directly from the failure to change the image, from the neglect of control over the communication of the content we desire.
Wołowski's creative attitude has nothing to do with social art, he is also deprived of political confusion, he is rather a reflection of a distanced observer on communication processes and their consequences.
The visual shape of the artist's graphics - mainly based on photographic collation - through the enlargement of "postcards from Poland", reveals the scale of the phenomenon, its key importance in the process of perceiving the so-called national character, cultural differences that play a significant role in the formation of attitudes conditioning the mutual attitude societies.
To what extent we will be able to meet the challenges pointed out by Edward Wołowski, it is difficult to settle today, there is no doubt that the problem exists and finds its representation in art, which often constitutes a faster and more sensitive "barometer" of social issues.