Leszek Przyjemski/Janek Simon/Honza Zamojski

Leszek Przyjemski and Anastazy Wiśniewski, ‘Individual Meetings’ @ Sigma Gallery, Warsaw 1972

Leszek Przyjemski

In 1966 Jerzy Ludwiński, art historian, critic, theoretician and curator, described in the essay titled ‘The Bubble with Painting’ a new spontaneous and unofficial artist movement, demonstrated in the number of conventions, meetings, conferences, plein-airs and other sessions held throughout what was then called People’s Republic of Poland.

However, some of the people involved were expressing a belief that the admired spontaneity was in fact pre-arrangement. Just like Anastazy Wiśniewski did through the act of establishing the Centre for Artistic Silence in the framework of Nonexistent Nodding Gallery ‘YES’, which he founded together with Leszek Przyjemski in 1970.

Leszek Przyjemski and Anastazy Wiśniewski, ‘Individual Meetings’ @ Sigma Gallery, Warsaw 1972

Leszek Przyjemski and Anastazy Wiśniewski, ‘Individual Meetings’ @ Sigma Gallery, Warsaw 1972

Two years later they organized ‘Individual Meetings’, in reference to the meetings for candidates for The Polish United Workers’ Party. Applicants were interviewed one at time in the room covered with a fabric alike Polish national flag, and completely jammed by the sound of ‘L’Internationale’.

Leszek Przyjemski — ‘Private shows’ — Nonexistent Nodding Gallery ‘YES’, 1974-75

Leszek Przyjemski — ‘Shows’ — Nonexistent Nodding Gallery ‘YES’, 1974

Leszek Przyjemski (b. 1942), one of the leading Polish artists who contested the official system of art in communist Poland in the 70s., during 1st International Nonexistenting Galleries Congress in Brzezno by Gdańsk put forward the idea of the Museum of Hysterics 1968–1975. Concept of establishing Museum was born a few years before, in June 12th, 1968 when Przyjemski graduated from the Art School, and to celebrate this fact he drowned a puppet dressed in the suit, with his MA diploma in the pocket.

Leszek Przyjemski and Anastazy Wiśniewski. ‘Party proposes’ — Nonexistent Nodding Gallery ‘YES’, 1972

Leszek Przyjemski — ‘Programme’ — Nonexistent Nodding Gallery ‘YES’, 1970

Since then Museum of Hysterics, the metamuseum in a way, is possible to explore, and visit with ones imagination, it is giving the most extreme idea for what we could recognize as an artist-run-space.

Above images courtesy of CoCA in Torun.

Janek Simon, ‘Lagos Transfer’ (fragment) @ Muzeum Sztuki, Lodz 2011

Janek Simon

In a way a follower of Przyjemskis’ self-management, who devoted himself to DIY philosophy and alternative strategies is an artist born in 1977 Janek Simon. Trained in sociology, as well as psychology, an author of the ‘Polish Year in Madagascar’ (2006) the first exhibition of contemporary Polish art in this country, without actual works by Polish artists, but with some pieces by Romanian, Bulgarian, Czech and Slovakian creators, instead.

Janek Simon, ‘The Polish Year in Madagascar’, exhibition poster, 2006

By the act of not choosing any fellows, Simon – the self-proclaimed one-man Foreign Affairs Department – aped official cultural policy strategies based on the posh, but at the same time very poor and unproductive events. To emphasize his perverse gesture, and to bring it to another level of international competition he rented as an exhibition space a spot in the Goethe-Zentrum neighborhood.

Janek Simon, ‘The Polish Year in Madagascar’, exhibition poster @ Antananativo 2006

Janek Simon, ‘National Budget for 2010’ (fragment) @ PGS, Sopot 2011

In 2011 Simon produced in a 400 square meters gallery space the 3D visualization of the Polish ‘State Budget for Year 2010’. The artist through translating national economy issues into arts language is again playing with an understanding of the boundaries between aesthetic and politic. On the one hand this act could be understood as a call for the civil society to have a closer look into what was reserved for specialized eyes only, but on the other hand is it true that contemporary arts vocabulary is easier for a average citizen then economy.

Janek Simon, ‘Entry of the Goldex Poldex delegation to city’ (modification on an illuminated manuscript), 2010

Simon is also one of the founder members of cooperative Goldex Poldex which ‘acts in the Pi-sector of cultural production, in the unexplored fractional dimension with no intend to collaborate with neither public institutions nor the art market. It seeks no sponsors and no patronage.’ Unlike Przyjemski, who was practicing resistance against socialism, Simon is in opposition to capitalism and what he calls grant-art.

Janek Simon, ‘Janek Was Here’(drawing on an archival print), 2010

Honza Zamojski

Honza Zamojski (b.1981) an author of drawings, video art, spatial objects including ready-mades, curator and the owner of publishing house MORAVA, represents an individualistic approach, with a perspective based on the micro rather than macro politics.

For his graduation he edited and designed book titled ‘We Came From Beyond/We Go Far Beyond’, which combines statements of young artists and curators on search for the answer ‘Why I’m doing this, and for whom?’, with an exhibition catalog format.

He is interested in the human motivation for creation, as well as exploring history thought private stories, what he demonstrates in the books ‘Jak jsem potkal d’abla’ (awarded in 2011 on Best Book Design from all over the World in Lipsk), and ‘Rymy jak Dymy’. All mentioned publications create a kind of unusual trilogy, which as a whole tells a story of ones development as an artist, poet, and citizen.

‘BOOKIE’, curated by Honza Zamojski @ Piktogram/BLA, Warsaw 2011

‘BOOKIE’, curated by Honza Zamojski @ Piktogram/BLA, Warsaw 2011

In 2011 Zamojski curated BOOKIE – a show devoted to redefining a self-publishing practices with a printed matter never presented in Poland before, e.g. by David Horvitz and Rick Myers artbooks, conceptual fanzines of the Institute of Social Hypocrisy or books by the Slavs and Tatars. Zamojski beside being an enterprising distributor, and promoter of printed matter by artists in Poland, is also a member of Starter Association – the body which had operated the gallery under the same name from 2007 until 2011 in Poznań as an artists’-and-curators’-run-space.

For over three years of its activity, Starter held over 50 shows of 72 artists in about 200 square meters abandoned apartment in Art Nouveau building.

Honza Zamojski, ‘Monumental Statues’ @ KIM? Contemporary Art Centre, Riga 2011

Honza Zamojski, ‘Me, Myself and I’ @ LETO Gallery, Warsaw 2011

Honza Zamojski, ‘Me, Myself and I’ @ LETO Gallery, Warsaw 2011

Honza Zamojski, ‘Me, Myself and I’ @ LETO Gallery, Warsaw 2011

Honza Zamojski, ‘Rhymes Like Dimes’ @ Views 2011 Deutsche Bank Foundation Competition, Zachęta National Gallery, Warsaw 2011

Honza Zamojski, ‘Rhymes Like Dimes’ @ Views 2011 Deutsche Bank Foundation Competition, Zachęta National Gallery, Warsaw 2011

Above images courtesy of Honza Zamojski and Leto Gallery.

Agnieszka Pindera

I’m interested in the socialist past influence on Polish contemporary cultural policy, the lasting for years People’s Republic of Poland struggle against any independent enterprise and its, in my opinion, negative impact on the self-supported initiatives development nowadays. Tools used in this conflict were modified legislation, fines beyond ones capabilities, and corruption, as well as denying access to the higher education for craftsman’s children, and finally though language (number of derogatory epithets was invented at this time).

For the Alternative Art Guide I selected artists who present various approaches from imaginary, through activist, to intimate autobiographical narrations in the term of artist-run-spaces and mentalities.

Born in 1981 in Tarnów, Poland. Graduate in Cultural, Gender and Museum Curatorial Studies. 2008-2011 a curator at the Centre for Contemporary Art in Torun (CoCA). Selected exhibitions: ‘Berlegustopol’ curated with Michał Woliński, Piktogram/BLA in Warsaw, 2011, with: Yomar Augusto, Henryk Berlewi, Edward Hartwig, Fontarte, Polex-Expol, Zuo Corp; ‘Tag! Base! Hide& Seek!’ curated with Joanna van der Zanden, CoCA in Torun, 2010, with: Dinie Besems, Cynthia Hathaway, Guy Keulemans, Bartosz Mucha, Leonard van Munster, Eric von Robertson, Suzuki Affice; ‘The Past is a Foreign Country’ curated with Aleksandra Kononiuk, CoCA in Torun, 2009, with: Johanna Billing, Persijn Broersen & Margit Lukács, Banu Cennetoğlu, Šejla Kamerić, Deimantas Narkevičius, Agnieszka Polska, Jasper Rigole, Slavs and Tatars, Jutta Strohmaier, Levi van Veluw, Ingrid Wildi, Krzysztof Zieliński, Edwin Zwakman.

30 June 2017 / by / in
Contexts of meaning of the past

A problem of reference to death has an universal value. Transcendental and also historical and individual character of death defines her as leaving the past. Vanishing is each time different. In the context of Polish art the way in which it is reffered to has both: a vast tradition and is being a subject of redefinition. I present three Polish artists: Lukasz Skapski from Cracow, Agata Michowska from Poznan and Anna Orlikowska from Lodz, who in different forms struggle with a problem of vanishing and death.

The essence of their perception is the redefinition of the past individual, collective, social and cultural. The reflection presented by them is precisely marked with specific context of Polish history from the time after II World War and of Polish People’s Republic (PRL), but at the same time it finds it’s broad references in the perspective of contemporary art and culture.


Lukasz Skapski

Lukasz Skapski, one of founding members of Super-group Azorro, who has passed from performance and spatial instalations, through an interest in the light, to a junction of photography, video and ready-made, with strong social and humanistic meaning. His works from the serie „Machines“ and „Fitness“ combine photography, documental film and specific hand-made ready-made. Skapski presents us machines and devices constructed by amateurs from easly and cheaply obtained materials, spare parts, things found in scrap, which he tracks with ethnographic passion in villages on the south of Poland. They aren’t factory-produced and moved into the area of art like „Bottle Dryer“ or „Fountain“ of Marcel Duchamp, but devices DIY (Do It Yorself), whose handicraft‘s authorship Skapski acknowledges, himself feeling the author of the artistic idea.

Tractors constructed in the region of Podlasie close to Zakopane, like a tractor from Biorkow Maly (il. 1, il. 2) have been a response for the needs of small farms during Polish People’s Republic, in which mass-produced tractors had been not fitting in. 

Lukasz Skapski, "Machines"


Lukasz Skapski, "Machines"


Skapski moves them into the world of art high-lighting their values, not only the value in use and the exchange value, first of all their value in ethical perspective – they have been manifestation of opposition to the planned economy, and now they can also serve as an expression of opposition to corporate monopolies. They are also examples of autonomic creativity of peaple directed towards a community, which should admire the effect of the work, for example: the impressing Warburg Sam (il. 3, il. 4) or which should gather around them, as in case of hand-made „Fitness“ build in barns or some adapted rooms by young country men without work in Bronow (il. 5, il. 6). 

Lukasz Skapski, "LS Motors S-type"


Lukasz Skapski, "LS Motors S-type"


Lukasz Skapski, "Fitness"


Lukasz Skapski, "Fitness"



Anna Orlikowska

Deep moral sense have also works of Anna Orlikowska – a young artist, an author of photographies, video films and installations – who, like Lukasz Skapski, starts from specific items and situations, but artistically tranforming them achives rather transcendental then social meanings. Guiding principles of many her realizations are memento mori and dance macabre, topos explicitly present in culture and history of art since Medieval times. Both „Souvenir“ from the year 2006, which is a cabinet stuffed to the limit with smashed tableware (il. 7), and the instalation from the yeras 2004-2007 „Sinking Room“ (il. 8) are legible references to unrelenting passage of time, which leaves some traces but also disappears in the darkness of history.

Anna Orlikowska, "Souvenir" 


Anna Orlikowska, "Sinking Room"


However photographies of the serie „Dance Macabre“ (il. 9, il. 10) taken in the year 2004 in artist’s home town Lodz, apart from calling for the context of transient, they also points it’s inscrutable mystery and ambiguity. 

Anna Orlikowska, "Dance Macabre"

Anna Orlikowska, "Dance Macabre"

This ambiguity appears also in video works of Orlikowska in which sho shows wriggling worms with classical music in the background (il. 11),  in  „Terminal Game“ (2007) (il. 12) or in the serie of photographies „Silence“ (2008) (il. 13), inspired with photographies documenting crime scenes and with our fascination with and fright of the death.

Anna Orlikowska, "Movie about Worms III"


Anna Orlikowska, "Terminal Game"


Anna Orlikowska, "Silence"



Agata Michowska

An approach to the subject of the past and death presented by Agata Michowska – a sculptor, an author of video films, installations, photographies, poetic texts – is also metaphoric and alegoric, but her space is more fabulous.

It is most clearly visible in multi-media piece „Fairy Tale“ from the year 2006 (il. 14, il. 15), located in an abandoned cotton factory in Lodz, an inconic city for industrial changes in XIX and XX century, which consists of spatial realization, video and sound. Reffering to the history of Penelopa Michowska ennobles, „bewitches“ the reality. 

Agata Michowska, "Fairy Tale"

Agata Michowska, "Fairy Tale"

However, if you can refine an old cotton factory, it shouldn’t be done in case of tragic events. For this reason a piece „Travel“ from the year 2009 (il. 16), created for cycle exhibition which takes place annually at Prozna Street in spot of former Warsaw Ghetto, although also has the metaphoric character, it doesn’t intend to beautify the past but it opens us for it’s fantazmatic experience. A motionless man with a head covered with black hood is a executioner, a victim and ourselves – blind to the past, not seeing how another living plants a being cut in a planned manner, dictated by aesthetics. 

Agata Michowska, "Travel"

To issues related with history, memory, tradition, a nation and an identity reffers also video film by Michowska „History Lesson“ (il. 17), on which we see legs of a young girl, turing over pages of the book down on a table with her feet. This book turns out to be a symbol of objective history, The History of All Histories in which – as the auther says – „individal being are being dissolved irrevocably, moving to the non-existence“, and which is not being read by the young girl but profanated. 

Agata Michowska, "History Lesson"

In Michowska’s art the history is presented as carring meaning individual/subjective and collective. Both these meanings are combined in one piece:  „Josephine“ from the year  2009 roku (il. 18). Three video-projections which form „Josephine“  relativize the linear idea of the history to the time experienced from subjective perspective as cyclic.

Agata Michowska, "Josephine"



dr Aleksandra Łukaszewicz Alcaraz

A Head of Institute of History and Theory of Art at Faculty of Painting and New Media at Academy of Art in Szczecin (Poland).

A specialist in a field of philosophical aesthetics and of theory of culture and art. Presents an interdisciplinary approach, combining elements of aesthetical and social reflection with an analysis of artistic events.

Publishes scientific, critic, journalistic and literary texts for example in: “Nowa Krytyka” (“New Critics”), “Konteksty” (“Contexts”), “Rita Baum”, “Obieg”.

A member of editorial board of philosophical review “Nowa Krytyka” and of Polish Society of Aesthetics.

Participating in many conferences dedicated to scientific, artistic and social issues, and in monographs published after them.

In the year 2007 organized at University of Szczecin a national conference under a title: “Feminism and Radicalism within social movements and critical perspectives” and co-edited together with Jerzy Kochan a monograph after it. In the year 2012 obtained honorable mention in competition of Stefan Morawski for the best PhD thesis in the field of aesthetics, which has been written under a supervision of Prof. Alicja Kuczynska at the Institute of Aesthetics on Faculty of Philosophy and Sociology on University of Warsaw, and elaborated on grant of Ministry of Science and Higher Education.

In the effect appeared the dissertation “Epistemological Function of Photographic Image” which is now being published by editorial Scholar.

Invited to organize a panel session on ”Performativity of Images in Social Context” for International Congress of Aesthetics, which will be held at the end of July 2013 in Cracow and for which has invited polish and American theorists.

Leading many artistic projects in cooperation with national and international institutions, for example: dedicated to French humanistic photography, to Spanish experimental cinema (with Centro de la Cultura Contemporanea de Barcelona) or a historical project dedicated to Empress Mary Feodorovna (who had been born in a main building of Academy of Art in Szczecin) (with other High Schools in Szczecin and in Petersburg).

In the academic year 2012-2013: Visiting Professor at University of Castilla-La Mancha, at Faculty of Fine Arts.


30 June 2017 / by / in
Where is the local

The local context today – for me it means in-between. I have been living in Lyon almost three years now. I exist between two cultures, trying to constantly jump over an old historical and stereotypical division between two Europes. The most local place for me, where I can meet artists and co-workers on daily basis, is the virtual space.

In this context the local seems to be a personal construct, an outcome of individual story and geopolitical status. These, connected with the cultural heritage, brings up the groups which could be called local, as their relations are close and based on a certain rhythm of interactions.

Technological shift, which took place in early 1990s, had changed the primary function of a computer from a calculating or an image-editing machine into a cultural filter. It created an opportunity to exist in a global virtual village, to travel easily, to develop the professional network within a click or simple email exchange. Dictated by a relation between a man and a device, it obviously shaked an political and a social order, which can be notable in virtuality within other way.

Skeptically observing the enthusiasm about the Internet technologies, I found it interesting how one can  exist in between a real and virtual space and how this state can be expressed within the very contemporary language of new and obsolete media of art.  Artist selected here found their way to comment with contemporaneity and to reach to its cultural and technological resources. 


Radek Szlaga

Radek Szlaga is a painter. He graduated Academy of Fine Art in Poznan. He was one of the founders of an artistic group Penerstwo, which represented highly various techniques and aesthetics. Since early years he developed a radical and particular style, which one may call hyper-textual. Through constant reworked motives – heard or read stories, images seen – he is relating to his very personal situation: spread between Poland, the reality of barely developed capitalism, and a visible proof of it collapse – Detroit – where main part of his family migrated, he build his radical world view.

Szlaga reaches to motives present in both these realities in search for their historical roots. The images of black ghetto, Polish reality and 19th century colonialism are just few of motives constantly re-appropriated by the artist. Images, painted obsessively as a flux of thoughts, are juxtaposed in his on canvases. With another and antother layers of paint applied on painting surface and by sewing together pieces of previous works, he creates reach and referentially heavy art works. Szlaga’s visual language derives from a traditional medium of painting in deep relation in contemporary copy and paste aesthetic of Internet.



Anus Mundi, 153 x 140 cm, oil on canvas, 2014


Heart of darkness, 50 x 53 cm, oil on canvas, 2014 


My dad gave me a sewing machine before he left, 80 x 150 cm, oil on canvas


Milenium, exhibition view, 2014



Tymek Borowski

Tymek Borowski initially a painter “labeled” as one of new generation young painters called tired with the reality, who preferred to turn away from realism into the abstraction. His rich paintings, due to their rapid and outstanding popularity, become a cage for the artist himself. He decided to immerse in the reflection on art. With the animation How art Works (2012) done together with Paweł Sysiak, he brought up a substantial and controversial questions about art, the art world, a human identity, his place in a contemporary economical world and in a humanistic reflection.

He prepared numerous projects: the ironically didactic charts or videos about life and meaning of human existence supported also by more philosophical thoughts. His works are avaible on internet but they should not be defined by this medium. Using the web, as one of goods of our times, Borowski rather critically place himself in this reality. His recent project, held together with Pony Project Customized Digital Art gives a viewer an opportunity to purchase an artwork produced together with an artist. By choosing its scale and after taking part in an interview prepared by Borowski, he assists the artist in creation process. Than the artwork is ready for the customer to be printed where he wants. 

Links to works:





Because It Is, How It Is, PSD file, 33465 x 16732 px, 2013



Gregor Rózanski

Gregor Rózanski is a part of the generation who grew up with Internet and for him its presence is obvious and natural. Living between Berlin and Warsaw he is observing the contemporary society. 

Staying close to the nature of the Internet, he appropriates the images. In his work Blue (2012), a straight reference to video made by Derek Jarman, he defines a key questions of his generation. He founds a surprising connotation between the Jarman’s narration held in his monologue about his sickness. Rózanski slightly changed the original text by replacing words “AIDS” or HIV with “Internet”, “virtuality” etc. It is striking how the meaning of modified sentences has changed and how precisely it describes nowadays reality dominated by technology. What is more, the title color had changed its status: apparently blue is the most frequently used in major companies logos today.

Searching symbols of commercialization and massive production Rózanski also questionates the medium of the exhibition itself, comparing it to the internet, as a reduced result of experiencing it, similarly to art and culture – speculating with references and ideas, constantly popularizes, wastes and rediscovers them when searching for the New, Better and More Interesting.[1]

[1] http://issuu.com/newartcenter/docs/gregor_rozanski_2013/1?e=9503786/9418297




From “Ikealism” series, Ikea loyalty cards for great minimalists, 2012-2013



Anna Tomczak

Born in 1984, Poland. Lives in Lyon. She graduated in Science of the Culture at the University of Warsaw. Her thesis about Derek Jarman’s eclectic output focused on syncretic and poetical aesthetic of his movie Caravaggio where he joined film, painting, music and performance. From 2004 she was an assistant curator and curator in Zachęta National Gallery of Art in Warsaw, where she worked on solo and group shows of Polish and international artists. In 2013-14 she participated in 23rd Session of Ecole du Magasin in Grenoble where she co-curated Liam Gillick’s show re-apropriating his works form the 1990s. She is interested in the visual anthropology understood interdisciplinary. She is concentrates on a potential of internet in an artistic and a curatorial practice. As an art writer cooperates with two art magazines: the Polish Obieg.pl and the London based Contemporary Lynx, she also publishes independently. The  co-founder, together with Giulia Bortoluzzi of the curatorial collective recto/verso, a research collective of widely understood curatorial practices aiming to broaden experiences while investigating the nature of images in contemporary society. This multidisciplinary cooperative, believes that interaction and cross-pollination between disciplines and media create the potential for unexpected coincidences and startling revelations. 

recto/verso is a research collective of widely understood curatorial practices aiming to broaden experiences while investigating the nature of images in contemporary society. Our work is based on constant exchanges both within the collective and with invited artists, curators and writers; along with regular active exhibitions and writing practice. Starting from our recent interests, the anthropology of images, our research weaves between different disciplines such as philosophy, sociology, history, new media, architecture and many others. recto/verso’s constant interrogation on the nature and notion of images, aims to investigate their origins and status within a collective cultural memory, bringing up its potential revisiting of the past in visual montages, through re-contextualization and discovered found footage aesthetics. By establishing our own discussion protocol, recto/verso, whose inspirations are drawn from diverse cultural and academic backgrounds, creates a platform, a discourse resource  with a multidisciplinary and multimedia bibliography.

recto/verso was created in summer 2014 through Anna Tomczak and Giulia Bortoluzzi need to keep exchanging and dialoguing after a nine-month experience at the école du Magasin, Grenoble. The école du Magasin is an experimental laboratory where a small group of people, working collectively, question both theoretically and practically the role of curators in contemporary art. While Anna and Giulia were at the école du Magasin, they worked  with four other people on the realization of the solo exhibition by Liam Gillick From 199C to 199D. This first collective experience established the basis for a wider research and practices.

More on our website: http://rectoversocollective.wordpress.com

30 June 2017 / by / in