Contemporary Plastic Arts

Over the last few decades, artists representing avant-garde tendencies in art (conceptualism, mostly) were struggling with the commonly recognised phrase “plastic arts”. They wished to define contemporary art (founded on ideas, attitudes, and new media) as a modern practice remaining in opposition to traditional means of artistic expression. After objectives assumed by avant-garde artists had been achieved, we witnessed a duly expected though aberrant return to fine arts. An expedition to this “forbidden” area carries a taste of transgression and provocation against rational dominants stemming from modernist artistic tendencies.

New plastic arts is about painting (Krzysztof Mężyk), sculpture (Olaf Brzeski), and draughtsmanship; it reaches out into the world of metalwork (Tomasz Kowalski), ceramics, and fabric (Piotr Uklański). In such context, we can well perceive the return to fine arts as a form of “revenge” on our avant-garde predecessors, who – in their struggle for an understanding of their art in a world of artistic institutions – failed to secure broad social support. Occasionally, we catch a glimpse of the “wolf in sheep’s clothing” strategy – attempts at semblance to fine arts, pretence at something actually critically analysed, as in case of perverse tachisme references in Piotr Janas’ works.