Who is Janina Węgrzynowska?
Janina Węgrzynowska, Agata Bogacka, Jenny Brockmann, Marcin Dymiter, Ludomir Franczak, Magdalena Franczak, Agnieszka Grodzińska, Dagmar Schürrer
Curator: Paulina Olszewska
Municipal Gallery bwa in Bydgoszcz
Partner: Arton Foundation, Warsaw
The project was made possible with the support of ifa- Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen, Austrian Culture Forum
Cooperation: The Ignacy Jan Paderewski Pomeranian Philharmonic.
Start 23.03.2023, 6 pm
This exhibition was born out of a need to tell the stories of artists whose lives and works are fascinating, but who have found themselves outside the ‘art circuit,’ and thus remain unnoticed. The project began with “Grey-Orange Painting” (1979) by Janina Węgrzynowska (1930-2010), which is in the Galeria Studio Collection. During preparation for the Collection’s exhibition in 2021, curator Paulina Olszewska became interested in the op-art composition and its author, about whom only scraps of information could be found.
The figure of Janina Węgrzynowska, an artist associated with Warsaw, seems to duplicate the biographies of many women active in the field of art in the 20th century, in Poland and around the world. They are often characterized by innovative and progressive thinking about art and an interdisciplinarity across many fields. They were, and in some cases still are, experimental and committed artists, working intensely for most of their lives. And yet they often exist outside of the mainstream, without sufficient support or adequate opportunity for their talent to be apparent. In turn, after death, their work, often left unattended, is condemned to dispersal or destruction, and thus to oblivion.
Our story about Węgrzynowska and her art involves, among other things, initiating a dialogue with contemporary artists. The curator has invited people from different backgrounds, working in various media and art fields, to draw attention to the topicality of Węgrzynowska’s practice and put it back into artistic circulation. An important aspect of this approach is to surround the artist with care and to attend to her oeuvre and archive. The exhibition provides an opportunity to establish a symbolic relationship between the invited artists and Węgrzynowska and her work. It is also an attempt to draw attention to the insufficient presence of female artists, both deceased and still active, in the field of art.
The invitation to participate in the project was for most people also their first contact with Węgrzynowska and her art, becoming a source of inspiration for them. Agata Bogacka entered into a painting dialogue with Węgrzynowska. Berlin-based artist Jenny Brockmann became interested in the artist’s collaboration with lecturers from the Warsaw University of Technology to create of a laser work for a show at Galeria Studio in 2005. Austrian artist Dagmar Schürrer translated Węgrzynowska’s three-dimensional op-art compositions into the language of augmented reality (AR). Agnieszka Grodzińska focused on the process of making an artwork and ways to create optical illusion.
Magdalena and Ludomir Franczak first encountered Węgrzynowska less than a decade ago when her legacy reached Lublin. This encounter with the artist’s oeuvre inspired Ludomir Franczak to create a project at the intersection of theater, visual arts and documentary film, titled „The Life and Death“ of Janina Węgrzynowska (2016). For the exhibition the artist will use scenographic elements, complemented with unfinished works by Węgrzynowska . Thanks to the cooperation with the Pomeranian Philharmonic, a symbolic gesture expands the exhibition with an additional context. In the foyer of the Philharmonic, previously unshown works by Janina Węgrzynowska, which were found in the institution’s collection while working on the project, will hang.
A sound layer composed for the show by Marcin Dymiter in collaboration with Franczak became also part of the show. Magdalena Franczak reached back into Węgrzynowska’s diaries, especially the experiences she describes of working in the studio and with its physical space. Franczak combines this with ritual practices and transform it into the form of a ceramic installation.
The project is being developed in cooperation with the Arton Foundation, which has undertaken the care and compilation of Janina Węgrzynowska’s oeuvre. To mark the occasion, an exhibition presenting a selection of materials from the artist’s archive, including works on paper, will open at the Foundation’s gallery on February 9, 2023 and will be on view until April 29, 2023.
The exhibition was on view at Galeria Studio in Warsaw from January 16 to March 13, 2023.