Oct 27, 2010

I could live in Africa 3 / Belarus

The third part of The
Krasnals participation in the exhibition
"I could live in Africa"

"Russian Roulette / Belarus 2009"

- MoMA Warsaw
24 July - 19 September 2010

Witte de With CCA, Rotterdam
February 20, 2010 - April 25, 2010

- „Russian Roulette / Belarus 2009” Gorky Park Minsk;
June 2009.

A series of paintings "Russian Roulette / Belarus 2009" was created on the basis of photographs documenting a secret exhibition of The Krasnals in Gorky Park in Minsk in June 2009.

The Krasnals initiated in Minsk a unique sculpture park. The works have been camouflaged in such a way not to provoke the authorities, they made the impression as they were objects naturally placed in the environment. Their meaning could be easily read "between the lines" in which people of Belarus are exercised to perfection.
The main, central object was the installation of '
Mannequins without heads ", referring directly to the Lukashenko government policy, providing complete control over its citizens. To make the camouflage, mannequins were placed on the roof of the car, in the usual manner, as they were part of a clothes stall.

The Krasnals. Whielki Krasnal "Belarusian Mannequins / Belarus 2009 ". 2009. Oil on canvas. 40 x 53 cm

On one of the trees we hung a "ban on parking and stopping." It suggested that here in the circle of art, it is absolutely forbidden to stop even for a moment by citizens of Belarus. It is a dangerous area, and the proper process of citizens brainwashing can be disturbed.

The Krasnals. Whielki Krasnal "Ban on parking and stopping / Belarus 2009". 2009. Photography, limited edition 1/10. 70 x 100 cm

A few steps next to it there was a "beautiful prison". It was symbolized by the very aesthetic piece, originally designed decorative grid, which was a part of the fence at the small pavilion trade. Pavilion, with a red Coca-Cola advertising, however, was a perverse symbol of the triumph of capitalism.

The Krasnals. Whielki Krasnal "Nice prison / Belarus 2009 ". 2009. Photography, limited edition 1/10. 70 x 100 cm

The Krasnals. Whielki Krasnal "Belarusian Coca-cola / Belarus 2009 ". 2009. Oil on canvas. 40 x 53 cm

The entire park, which was the secret territory of art, was at a specific place, next to the former casino. When you raised the sight, you could see the old neon sign that says "Kazino. Black ominous circles of the former windows reminded us, that willy-nilly all is ruled here by the Russian Roulette.

The Krasnals. Whielki Krasnal "Belarusian casino. Belarusian casino. Russian Roulette / eyeholes / Belarus 2009 ". 2009. Oil on canvas. 40 x 53 cm

When we were invited to the exhibition in MoMA in Warsaw and CCA Witte de With in Rotterdam, we found that the best scene to recreate the atmosphere of the 80's in Poland in an exotic way due to the curator's vision, would be to find ourselves in the present situation of Belarus.

Oct 14, 2010

Obituary of the dissident Liu Xiaobo / Coffin portrait

The Krasnals. Whielki Krasnal "Obituary of the dissident Liu Xiaobo / Coffin portrait". 2010. Oil on canvas. 33 x 43 cm

Liu Xiaobo is a Chinese intellectual, writer, and human rights activist and a political prisoner in China.
During his 4th prison term, he was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, for "his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.

Upon hearing about Liu's nomination for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, the Chinese foreign ministry warned the Nobel committee not to give Liu the prize, as they said that it would be against Nobel principles.[51] On 8 October 2010 the Nobel Committee awarded Liu the Prize "for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China".[52] The Norwegian Nobel Committee president Thorbjørn Jagland said the choice of Liu as the recipient of the prize had become clear early on in the process.[51]

A banquet to honor Liu Xiaobo for winning the Nobel Peace Prize by 20 plus Chinese netizens, human right lawyers, and academics was abruptly broken up by Beijing police.[61] Other meetings to commemorate the award were prevented by authorities; prominent intellectuals and other dissidents were detained, harassed or put under surveillance.[62]

There were messages of congratulations from the world’s leaders, who called on China to reform its political, legal systems and its constitution and to release Liu. President Ma Ying-jeou of the Republic of China,[63] He also urges Beijing government to free Liu Xiaobo and put forward political reform. [64]European Commission president José Manuel Barroso,[65] The British Foreign Secretary William Hague,[65] U.S. President Barack Obama,[66] and the Dalai Lama were among those who praised the decision, and called for Liu's release.[67]

There was also solidarity with the Chinese view by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.[68]

Following the announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize, Liu's wife, Liu Xia, was placed under house arrest.[69] According to Freedom Now, she has not been charged with any offence.[70]


Oct 12, 2010

The system of production of Polish classics

The world of contemporary Polish art establishment in a nutshell
Once the evil scandalists, today new classics— 'the system of production of Polish classics'

Stach Szablowski
Przekrój, 5 października 2010-10-09
edited by The Krasnals

The Krasnals. Whielki Krasnal "The Pink World of Wards / by Tuymans". 2008. Oil on canvas. 74 x 84 cm

CLASSICa celebrity of Polish contemporary art, art establishment's sweetheart. Their artworks are pure marketing products, mostly without any artistic value, created solely for the purpose of making money. Never has mainstream art been commercial to that extent. This is why being a classic in these circumstances is so negative and is associated with shame, speculation, corruption, the breaking of ethical standards and artistic responsibility.
Who will become a classic is decided by subtle agreements between collectors, private galleries, museum directors and curators. The society has no influence. One can become a clasic only through the right promotion, as opposed to the 'old times', when the artist had to meet the nation's needs.

Whielki Krasnal "Dream Factory". 2008. Oil on canvas. 110 x 110 cm

Who is the new art classic? Statistically, he is in his forties, probably studied in the so called 'Kowalnia'—Grzegorz Kowalski's workshop at the Warsaw Art Academy; today he cooperates with Foksal Gallery Foundation.
His artwork is in the collection of London Tate Modern and/or New York's MoMA. He uses non-classical forms. He migh even paint or sculpt something, but he'd rather not— he prefers something less time-consuming and records amateur movies or creates so-called projects, which means virtually anything, because the amount of money for a classic's project is endless; from pseudo-scientific experiments, through toy production to erecting complicated structures and organizing extravagant journeys.
He has presented naturalistic naked bodies, often in groups. He mentions issues that are hot in the western world—teh Holocaust, problems of the handicapped and excluded.

The Krasnals. Krasnal Hałabała 2 „Shower for Jews made by Polish classics”. 2009. Oil on canvas

The classic has to officially be a leftie, criticize the government—literally and in a broader sense—the power of capitalism and tradition. At the same time (which is logical) the new classic is the government's associate, sweetheart and ass kisser. What follows, he enoys a good position on the art market, is supported by public cultural intitutions corrupt with FGF. Thus it is a natural consequence, he exhibits in galleries like Zachęta or CSW Zamek Ujazdowski. The smae institutions decide, which classics will represent Poland abroad. The statistical new classic had a show in the Polish pavillon at the Venice Biennale or was very close to it. The status of a classic is acquired through subtle agreements between collectors, private galleries, museum directors and curators. The society has no influence. One can become a clasic only through the right promotion, as opposed to the 'old times', when the artist had to meet the nation's needs.

The Krasnals. Whielki Krasnal „Our dream Zoo - acc. Project 'Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw by Christian Kerez' / let's build our own museum, right now, for your money / from the Animal Planet series. " 2009. Oil on canvas. 33 x 38 cm

Of course the key role here is played by the artificial authority and power of institutions, which define patterns of contemporary art in a practical and ruthless way. These manipulations result for instance in the fact, that when watching particular artists in galleries, or when they receive prizes and achive world success, we get used to these patterns of contemporary art, even though a while ago they seemed worthless. The audience, standing in front of hard facts, has to consume this 'art' and pay for what is given to them.

The Krasnals. Whielki Krasnal „Applied social art /New Wonderful World of Artur Żmijewski / Ordway Prize. 2010. Mixed media - collage, photocopy, acrylic on cardboard carton. 50 x 59 cm

Artur Żmijewski, the author of "Social arts in use", declares the need for art as the production of socially useful knowledge, asks for verifying the political usefulness of art (...) He sees art as the space of real action, performs pseudo-scentific experiments, creates models of social change and checks their effectivity in front of the camera. He managed to achieve much, the only nuance is, that practical change, the 'brave new world' so far exist only for him. With his art, he never changed any of his movie's protagonist's lives, it is not even in the slightest way useful for the society or the groups which he talks about so much in his manifest. Despite this nuance, serious discussion about art cannot take place without asking for his opinion.

Right now, we are witnessing the next nominations. End of September it was announced, that Artur Zmijewski has become the curator of the upcoming, seventh Berlin Biennale in 2012. And that's good, because a new hyper-promotion of artists with access to the 'resources' will be financed. It is one of the main, most important artistic events in the world of visual arts. And in November Katarzyna Kozyra opens a retrospectoive show in Zachęta. It is the natural consequence of the fact, that her Italian boyfriend (good to know where to look for love...), an important player for FGF in the game on the western market—has become the new president of CSW Zamek Ujazdowski.

The Krasnals. Whielki Krasnal "The Animal Pyramid / based on the work of Katarzyna Kozyra". 2008. Oil on canvas. 92 x 65 cm

Let's cite Katarzyna Kozyra: "When I started in the 90's, I thought: who will show these works, not to mention I never thought of them as products for sale. Emotions invested in "Pyramid", "Olimpia", "Więzy krwi" and others, turned out to be exchangeable for money, success, shows." In art, the erotic aspect always played a major role. Katarzyna Kozyra followed the footsteps of Tamara Lempicka, though not exactly: Kozyra hit once, but hit well. There are different faces of Polish prostitution abroad. From brutal standing under a streetlight, to more subtle forms, e.g. the famous nazi Uklanski, with his curator from teh Guggenheim Museum NY—Alisoon Gingeras.

We are forced to look at the new classics as the representatives of the mainstream art, what is more—under the wings of the government, consequently promoted and financed—against our will. We can also notice the triumph of certain private circles that used the cultural chaos of III RP. Althamer, Żmijewski and Sasnal are artists connected with Galeria Foksal Foundation, the most influential and opinion-setting, western-establishment-dependent, Polish art institution. It's co-founder Joanna Mytkowskais teh director of (still under construction) Museum of Modern Art with an enormous budget to use for promoting artists from their own 'stable' or for barter purposes with western players. Mirosław Bałka also closely cooperates with the Foundation. This social circle intersects with Kowalnia. Kowalnia's alumni are Kozyra, Althamer, Żmijewski. Everything stews in it's own juice, in the warmth of institutional seats, signing decisions whom and what to finance.

The Krasnals, Whielki Krasnal "ATTENTION! Polish golden carpet bombing on Brussels! / Pawel Althamer. 2009. Acrylic, pencil on hardboard. 44 x 80 cm

The Krasnals. Whielki Krasnal "Big $asnal". 2008. Oil on canvas. 46 x 38 cm

The Krasnals. Whielki Krasnal "How it is". 2010. Oil on hardboard.

Oct 8, 2010

text about The Krasnals from the new catalogue


The following text has been written for The Krasnals’ exhibition titled Two Years of Struggle at Szyperska Gallery in Poznań. The occasion to organize it is the two and a half years of the group’s existence: from April 2008, the time the collective was started, it has been their second individual and non-virtual show in Poland (the first one, Last Supper – Brothers in Arms, 2009, took place in Skwer gallery, a branch of the Fabryka Trzciny Art Centre). The main area of The Krasnals’ activity is virtual space, regarded by them as the most democratic for the functioning of art. Since 25 March 2008 the anonymous collective has run a blog (http://TheKrasnals-pl.blogspot.com; English version www.TheKrasnals.blogspot.com).

The Krasnals touch upon the issues that have always been present in the field of art: the relations of power, knowledge, interests connected with art production, criteria of evaluation, the audience’s level of awareness, some artists’ success and other’s failure to receive appreciation as well as rivalry among artists. The Krasnals, however, make these problems controversial, as they openly pick up on the contemporary artistic system, which some people consider very uncomfortable, tasteless or unfunny. Most of their works is a critique of a local artistic metabolism, including art market, state subsidies, art competitions, awards, artistic criticism, trends and scandals. By means of painting, video, events, manifestos, verbal commentaries on pictures and modifications of broad cultural texts, in the form of thought-provoking play The Krasnals analyze aspects of economy, politics and a special kind of economy of artistic system. The general message of their work is the dominant role of the art market and the laws that regulate it. It seems, however, that the subversive politics of the group is mainly directed against the hypocrisy of today’s artistic scene and promoting people whose talent remains uncritical of today’s fashionable worldviews.

The Krasnals themselves bear characteristics of an excellent artistic product. But doesn’t the art market (incidentally, a good metaphor of an ‘inflated bubble’ of the international art market was proposed by a BBC documentary The Great Contemporary Art Bubble, 2009) still has little distance towards its own figures to appreciate their efforts? The group presents the part of Polish art pampered in the West as an ugly poop excreted at the cost of artistic independence and simplification of the image of Poland and Polish society. What is more, The Krasnals deftly employ the strategies of the system they criticize. Despite the particular irony which allows them to observe it from the outside and the selected strategies enabling them to push its walls from the inside, the products of the ephemeral, litter-like production line have already fell victim to speculation! A case in point is the joke in spring 2008: a counterfeit Sasnal was valued by the Christie’s auction house at 70 thousand pounds. After they became aware of the scam the painting was returned. Warhol’s words “Art is Money. Big Art is Big Money” are evoked by The Krasnals’s works as a terrific, corny comedy with Polish main characters. Following the quotation, not only do they expose the mechanisms (of marketing, mercantilism, ideology, politics) behind the process of art production, but also jack them up, blow up, calibrate. Obviously, it works both ways and results in an intentional or unintentional promo-criticism. Can one really reconcile the following consequence: the artwork written with the capital and noble “A” is driven by instincts, insatiability and “littleness”, but dwarfs [The Krasnals can be translated as The Dwarfs – transl.] can be rich Robin Hoods? Let us remember they also offer their paintings to charity. The relationship art -financial success and failure - social sensitivity needs to be thought over because there are a few possible configurations. The phenomenon of The Krasnals consists in their covering their tracks and it is difficult to say anything about them for sure.

The Krasnals’ specifically political and committed attitude as an informal group of activists which, via looking at reality from alternative angles, demands a more transparent vision of reality, is considered in the context of historical anarchistic and revolutionary movements such as the Dutch Kabouter party, founded in Amsterdam as a continuation of Provo movement (1965-67) or the active in Poland in the 1980s anticommunist Orange Alternative, with dwarfs as its symbol.
To understand the Krasnals' disappointment with contemporary artistic scene one needs to situate them in the context of the aforementioned artistic system in Poland, including the element of art market, distribution of authorities on art and the role an artist plays in this system nowadays. After 1989 – no matter how symbolic this date is – began the processes of democratization of the sphere of art which had been nationalized at the time of the People's Republic of Poland and the gradual emergence of art market, which required the artist to act as a businessman. One of the aims of The Krasnals' protest is the concentration of authorities by exhibiting institutions in the capital and the predominance of a situation when what makes an artist an artist is a connection with a given gallery, and art criticism loses its critical edge to trend-promoting, promotion of NON-creative projects, interesting individualities and attitudes but curatorial decisions NOT motivated by fine ideas but, for example financial relations. Moreover, in their parodic works the group often undermines the monopolization of the art critical opinion-forming authority and the authority of art academies which, according to The Krasnals, are tainted with stale ideas. Sensitive to contemporary signs of the legacy of communism as well as to the phenomenon of corporationism in art and the art system, The Krasnals' work can be considered a continuation of critical art, which in 1990s focused on the exposing the mechanisms of consumer society.

The situation represented by The Krasnals is neutralized or even nullified by the revolutionary potential in art. At the exhibition Two Years of Struggle, the title alluding to Wilhelm Sasnal's retrospective in Warsaw Years of Struggle (2007), one can see both paintings critical of the art system and art market as well as many works from the subversive project Revolutions for Morons (2008), in which the group actualizes the issue of revolution. In these pictures The Krasnals represented the figures related to historical revolutions, images of March 1968, tanks, fluorescent vans, bombs, cruisers, the revolutionary cannon fodder, sexual excesses etc. One can hardly omit to notice that these are also, and perhaps most importantly, various images of experiments on the rebellious imagination of the Objects that create them. The exhibition constitutes a certain whole, complemented by the series Cheap Sasnals from China alluding to cheap Chinese products and Ghreat Poles. The visitors will also have a chance to watch two videos devoted to the subject of revolution: about a young Chinese reading Chinese translation of Pan Tadeusz and a Krasnal trying to topple the Great Wall of China.

Galeria Szyperska, Poznań
The exhibition organized as a part of Mediations Biennale 2010
11 September- 10 October 2010

It has been more than years since the collective of anonymous artists, The Krasnals, has been active on the Polish artistic scene. On this occasion Szyperska Gallery organized the exhibition “Two Years of Struggle”. The group’s work mainly consists of painting, video, actions and word. It`s activity is of artistic, political and social importance, but mainly it concentrates on commenting current events, being a critique of the art market and the ideologies accompanying art production. The Krasnals employ the strategy of culture jamming. In a radical and ironic way they expose manipulation and hypocrisy: an artist, to make it in the so-called artworld or mainstream, sacrifices his/her independence and becomes a mouthpiece for catchy, conformist ideas and a creator of hot, easily marketable topics. Interestingly enough, pictures by The Krasnals are not respected by some critics because of their political and not painterly character, which is a sign of the misunderstanding of the meaning of their work. The exhibition will focus on this issue. It will include paintings form Revolutions for Morons project which constitute an interesting artistic proposition with a subversive, political meaning; Cheap Sasnals from China relate to the cheap, poorly painted works presenting much worse quality than the original. There will be also two videos at the exhibition on subject of revolution, which the group has been lately exploring: a young Chinese reading Pan Tadeusz in Chinese and a kransal trying to topple the Great Wall of China. The exhibition poses a question of current need, possibility and meaning of revolution in art.

Curator: Ewelina Jarosz

The Krasnals on Two Years of Struggle show

Why is our work considered harmful? “How to finally finish them off? I cannot see a better way than to give them Polityka “Passport” award – respected critics say. Well, we alter certain status quo: “we influence choices of the conservative middle-class that critics wish to influence too. And this is not only a business issue. Neither does it concern the transformation of social image of art. The aforementioned critics surely do not want to put those who demand art as a source of the “real sublime” right. This unenlightened middle class should rather get interested in for instance Wilhelm Sasnal’s work so as to, while dealing with his painting, become ideologically enlightened as a consequence of the sublime experience; indeed, Sasnal is a painter of clear leftist views. Then they will become the enlightened middle class. After all, presently no one can have appropriate views. Unless one is a total moron”. The exhibition will show you how hard-working artists The Krasnals are. We titled it: Two Years of Struggle. We believe it is funny. But this is not only a joke as we are concerned about the image of a committed artist, who is always after something in his/her painting.