Making New Worlds

After years of avant-garde domination and modernist strategies, contemporary art is suffering of a chronic inability to develop narration, stories, characters, or tales of fiction. Paradoxically, some of these qualities can be found in the realism of critical art of the 1990s, known for its narrativeness and focus on the real protagonist and empathy for the same, on stories of his/her potential liberation, etc. Some contemporary artists are radical in severing their bonds to avant-garde reduction and the realism of critical art while drawing on old masters, their figurativeness, and literary and anecdotal qualities.

Pieces by artists such as Aleksandra Waliszewska, Jakub Julian Ziółkowski, or Maciej Sieńczyk are closer to certain areas of culture (theatre, literature, film) where the protagonist, his/her story, and the drama of his/her existence remain the focal point. These artists use their imagination to create extraordinary worlds, heroes, and stories while speaking a universal language, which ultimately translates into their success beyond the field of contemporary art (Waliszewska’s works have been used in CD and non-art magazine covers; Sieńczyk illustrates novels and publishes press drawings). To recall the title of a film by Wojciech Bąkowski, "Making New Worlds," the process has become a successful popular culture mainstream component. Notably, in case of these artists are facing points of historical reference different to the avant-garde: primarily, paintings and drawings by old masters – art classics. Ziółkowski initiates a dialogue with the best traditions of European art (Bosch to Ensor); in a series shown at the exhibition, Waliszewska recalls graphic artist Jan Ziarnko of the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries.