Wilhelm Sasnal: ENGINE
27. May – 01. October 2018
In 2018 the Kistefos museum presented a large-scale solo exhibition ENGINE by the Polish painter, draughtsman, and filmmaker Wilhelm Sasnal (b. 1972, based in Krakow). Part of a new wave of young positions from Poland that received wide acclaim in the early 2000s, today Sasnal is internationally recognized as one of the most important painterly positions of his generation. The exhibition at the Kistefos was his first solo presentation in Scandinavia.
The cinematically cropped paintings and drawings by Sasnal convey a direct, pop-art inspired graphical coolness, often reshuffling provoking visual material. Distilling daily impressions drawn from photographic source material, Sasnal’s motifs spans from family life, daily news and politics, LP-covers, historic atrocities such as holocaust, and cityscapes to the reworkings of iconic works from art history. As such Sasnal is creating an ongoing commentary on the negotiation between a battering global information flow and a punk-like insistence on intimacy and individual freedom when trying to make these visual impressions one’s own.
Pointing to this almost encyclopedic coverage of visual impressions, the exhibition at the Kistefos encompassed a rich catalog of paintings and works on paper selected from Sasnal’s early work till today. Deliberately removing himself from a classic idea of painting as a bohemian lifestyle, Sasnal has remarked that his treatment of artistic labor. In the former paper mill of Kistefos, Sasnal’s incessant recast of our image stream, having in periods produced up to a painting a day, is pulled forward.
Borrowed from a black painting of abstracted industrial tubes from 2010, the title, ENGINE, shows to the rhythm and pace of Sasnal’s laborious production, always accompanied by music. For the first time opening up his personal archives, the exhibition includes many never previously displayed works, granting the audiences an exceptional peek into his ongoing production, Sasnal’s ENGINE. As if walking into the artist’s storage, at Kistefos audiences were invited to trace how Sasnal has repeatedly returned to the same motif over many years while three new, short 16mm-films by the artist, show parts of his studio process, the workings both before and after the painting.
The exhibition was accompanied by a publication, documenting Sasnal’s daily sketching process by reproducing one of his notebooks, complemented by texts by Rhea Dall and Kerstin Stakemeier.
The exhibition was curated by Rhea Dall.