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Indepth Arts News:

"Wilhelm Sasnal: Years of Struggle"
2008-03-15 until 2008-06-15
Galleria Civica di Arte Contemporanea, Trento
Trento, , IT Italy

The protagonist of the next exhibition at the Galleria Civica di Arte Contemporanea is none other than Wilhelm Sasnal, Polish artist, winner of the 2006 Vincent Van Gogh Prize at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, and one of the most sought after personalities by galleries, museums and collectors. The exhibition, his first solo show in an Italian public institution, includes many series of paintings and short films. The true heart of the production of the artist are the paintings, these include the series tied to the theme of Judaism (Maus, Shoah), his birthplace (Mościce), the rivers which cross through Poland, religious buildings (Churches), fables (Andersen) and his passion for music groups (Music), alongside a wide selection of portraits.

Inspired by everyday life and the mass media, Sasnal interprets reality in a personal and often private way, creating expressive images which leave lasting impressions. His painting and films are a varied and free play on styles, modes of representation, techniques and means which always remain true to a traditional base, like oil on canvas for his paintings and the movie camera for his films.

A strong sense of history and personal memory emerges from his painting which cross over and blend in his works.

The title of the exhibition, Years of struggle, is inspired by a post-war propaganda film about the Partisan struggle. In the exhibition, the series Maus looks at the theme of concentration camps, mediated through the comics of Art Spiegelman. The characters are eliminated, which moves the focus onto the background of fences and gates. In Shoah, the faces of the people depicted are removed and appear with no particular somatic features. The victim or the executioner is therefore impersonalized. The paintings of the series Mościce are based on some photographs of the State Nitrogen Works in the Polish city of Tarnów, revealing unknown details of the local history and environment of the town where the artist still lives, works and draws inspiration.

The depiction of the Polish landscape is also found in Bug, Oder, Vistola – the names of the three main Polish rivers – a series of paintings on the theme of personal memory and that of the whole of society. Churches depicts religious buildings upside down or close up in detail in reference to his childhood experiences with cult places.

The subjects of Metinides, are a series of accidents featuring suicides or victims of misfortunes. These are paintings inspired by a sequence of photographs by the Mexican photographer of the same name. Andersen depicts scary and unsettling childhood fairy tales. Several painting are dedicated to Music, an important source of inspiration for the artist who has always had a passion for records and music groups. Finally, the numerous Portraits which depict characters with blurred, erased or sometimes non- existent features, as mute witnesses of history.

Wilhelm Sasnal was born in Tarnów (Poland) in 1972, where he lives and works. He initially studied architecture and then transferred to the Cracow Academy of Fine Arts and graduated in 1999. In 1996 he was co-founder of the Ładnie Group, an artistic formation which, since the fall of the Berlin Wall, has gathered imagery from the western mass media treating it with an ironic tone.

He works and displays his work in many galleries and museums, including the Raster Gallery and the Foksal Gallery Foundation in Warsaw , the Pompidou Centre in Paris, the National Museum of Art in Osaka, the Wattis Institute of Arts in San Francisco, the Biennals of Prague and San Paolo. In 2006 he won the Vincent Van Gogh Biennial Award for Contemporary Art in Europe at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.

Years of struggle is realized in collaboration with Zacheta National Gallery of Warsaw with the support of the Polish Institute in Rome. A catalogue in Italian, English and Polish will be produced for the occasion, including contributions by Fabio Cavallucci and Andrzej Szczerski and an Interview with the artist by Maria Brewińska, alongside a wide selection of images.

Wilhelm Sasnal
Shoah, 2003

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