Wilhelm Sasnal
Polland, 1972
Wilhelm Sasnal (Tarnów, Poland, 1972) studied architecture before completing a degree in fine arts at the Akademia Sztuk Pieknych w Warszawie (Krakow). Between 1995 and the year 2000, he belonged to a loose, art collective called Ladnie (Pretty) that decided to ironically contradict what they had learned in art school by practicing “banalism”: as painters, they appropriated the images that appeared in the newspapers, on television and in popular culture. In later years, he maintained this appropriationism, which is not literal in nature, because he usually strips his iconic source material of all non-essential elements. He prefers relatively bare settings and figures with an ambiguous or contemplative attitude like the characters in Sand (2006). In terms of media and technique, the painting displays a lightness that is characteristic of part of his work, which is difficult to define as a whole. He is an extremely prolific artist and in addition to painting—which he does without subscribing to any one style—he also draws and works with photography, video and film. His subjects have included historical motifs related to his country’s communist past, but over time they have become increasingly enigmatic. Untitled (2007) is an example of how this exercise in emptying the canvas pushes some of his paintings to the edge of abstraction, but it also reflects the cinematic aesthetic that informs his work. The spectator is challenged by a strange combination of conceptualism and everyday observation. One gets the feeling that a piece of information is missing—information that is not provided by the surrounding artworks either. In 2007, the Fundación ”la Caixa” organised a small exhibition in the Espai Montcada at the CaixaForum Barcelona as part of a series entitled Escenarios. The exhibition featured eight of the artist’s paintings, including Sand, which all dealt with the theme of adolescence.
Elena Vozmediano