OPPOsite

Opposite nr 1

Mniejszości narodowe i etniczne w sztuce polskiej po 1945 roku. "Dla ciebie chcę być biała"

Janusz Antos / World and European artists as well as those 'typically Polish, provincial'. Deliberations on the representations of artists based on the New Jerusalem project by Marta Deskur and the 'Old Polish' Portraits of Artists, by Ignacy Czwartos

Czwartos, an artist of the Open Studio ("Otwarta Pracownia"), claims to be 'typically Polish, provincial. "Let the Sasnal type of artist deal with the united Europe and the world", says Ignacy Czwartos with a touch of playful irony. "I paint Kielce". This claim is the starting point for deliberations on the representations of artists based on his 'Old Polish' portraits of artists (last shown at an exhibition in winter 2010) that find themselves in a kind of opposition to the 'cosmopolitan' representations of artists as the Apostles with sidelocks in Marta Deskur's 2007 New Jerusalem project. Striving to emphasise the Polishness and, as he says, 'provincialism', Czwartos painted himself and his artist friends referring to the convention and tradition of Old Polish portraits. Turning to Sarmatism is a reference to 'homeliness'. By manifesting his 'provincialism' or 'otherness' among 'cosmopolitan' artists, he turns to the indigenous national culture.

The New Jerusalem project by Marta Deskur has been produced for the Starmach Gallery in Krakow. It took into consideration the genius loci of the place that used to be a Jewish prayer house in the Podgórze district. In her project, Deskur refers to the Gospel vision of St. John, in which the Apostles constitute the basis on which the gates to a new city rise. 'All the Apostles of Christ,' says Deskur, 'were Jews, and in order to remind people about that I give them [...] sidelocks.' Photos of the Apostles along with cardinal virtues were arranged in a semi-circle. Staged photography that is typical of the modern commercialised culture characterises the dialogue between Christian and Jewish traditions. 'Apostles' selected by Deskur are mostly members of the Krakow 'art world' who willingly agreed to take part in the tableau vivant with its refined aristocratic origins. By agreeing to participate in Deskur's project, participants became 'virtual Jews'. In their works presenting 'cosmopolitan' and 'provincial' artists, Deskur and Czwartos referred, in a consciously complex way, to tradition, but perhaps above all, to the national minorities stereotypes.