Political Fine Arts

In this section, we will focus on realisations attempting to politicise traditional artwork in diverse ways. Joint work by Artur Żmijewski and female inmates of a Warsaw penitentiary institution serves as a point of entry. Working together with the artist, they created a series of abstract watercolours. Every piece is a record of two people (the artist and the inmate) having met, a documentary of bond and friendship. The meeting itself and the mutual art dialogue was much more important than the patronising mission of a critical artist attempting to boost the creativity of individuals who found themselves marginalised in society. Here, art has become the most comprehensible language of interpersonal communication.

Żmijewski and Paweł Althamer – who have frequently been working together – blend traditional techniques with a critical art programme - avant-garde in spirit - suggesting a new understanding of fine art activities. In such “political fine arts,” postulates of returning to academic studies of the model appear alongside propositions of introducing students to art-reality relations based in humanism and empathy. Althamer returns to traditional techniques, to the figurativeness and spirituality typical for old art. In the artist’s work, the spiritual and the metaphysical seem to have become stronger than the avant-garde element relating to the Hansenese tradition of Althamer’s origins.

Furthermore, political fine arts have been manifested in works by Katarzyna Przewańska (a new colour scheme for the Sejm – lower house of the Polish parliament – to improve work comfort for Polish politicians), Jadwiga Sawicka (a series of textual images based on the rhetorics of political disputes), and Wilhelm Sasnal.