Ignacy Czwartos
Polonia Uncensored

★★☆☆☆

Curated by Piotr Bernatowicz
On until 17 May 2024

Czwartos’ pseudohistorical paintings were to be Poland’s official Biennale entry until a change of government last winter thew them on art history’s scrap heap. That they now hang in a pop-up outside the Giardini walls proves that the deposed populists care as little for art as the liberals who again control Poland’s art scene.

These images claim to tease the nation’s sore historical blind spots. Czwartos’ canvases laud Poland’s 20th-century martyrs in a bleak colour palette. Leaders of the national armed resistance who perished in the Nazi occupation and anti-communist activists killed by their own state peer from the walls like paper props in a school re-enactment.

Litigating old crimes is on point in this Biennale. Why, then, were these well-known stories disqualified from the decolonial orgy? Czwartos stepped too far by shaming the abusers in his historical diorama. Next to a named SS soldier, he painted Putin and Merkel, thus suggesting that this history is also the very present. He may not be wrong. His painting, however, proves little, and his sign-writer’s hand loses art history’s bet just for now.


notes and notices are short and curt exhibition reviews. Read more:

Eva Kot’átková, The Czech pavilion in Venice ★★☆☆☆

Eva Kot’átková

The heart of a giraffe in captivity is twelve kilos lighter

★★☆☆☆

The giraffe’s taxidermied corpse is host to an ideological stunt.

Anna Glantz, Lichens at Approach ★★★☆☆

Anna Glantz

Lichens

★★★☆☆

The clues that Glantz leaves on her surfaces are also traps. There are either too many or not quite enough to follow or fall into. 

Wilhelm Sasnal at Sadie Coles ★★★☆☆

Wilhelm Sasnal

★★★☆☆

Only in flights of anger does this vision come close to becoming believable.

Diego Marcon, Dolle at Sadie Coles HQ ★★★☆☆

Diego Marcon

Dolle

★★★☆☆

Idle work became indistinguishable from leisure, vegetative time-passing from family life.

Aziza Kadyri, the Uzbekistan pavilion in Venice ★★★★☆

Aziza Kadyri

Don't Miss the Cue

★★★★☆

This dissonance might be intentional. If it isn’t, so much for the better.

Ksenia Pedan, Revision at Cell Project Space ★★★★☆

Ksenia Pedan

Revision

★★★★☆

Pedan’s paintings would rather be anything but.

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