Humboldt Forum

Artistic carvings from Oceania, wooden figures and masks from Cameroon, a Japanese teahouse and sounds from around the world: the exhibitions from the Ethnologisches Museum and the Museum für Asiatische Kunst in the brand new Humboldt Forum offer an eclectic view into the past and present cultures of Africa, America, Asia and Oceania. Around 20,000 archaeological, ethnological and art-historical exhibits offer multiple perspectives on universal themes of humanity. Media installations as an introduction to the exhibitions, Schaumagazin exhibition spaces filled with a varied selection of objects, areas for cultural education, spaces designed by international architects and works of contemporary art pose questions about the history of the objects and place the collections in the context of our present-day world. Definitely worth a visit when in Berlin!

Schloßplatz / Berlin

Photos by Edward Kanarecki.

NET-A-PORTER Limited

Berlinische Galerie

Berlinische Galerie seeks to portray Berlin’s art history in new and surprising ways with room for every genre and style. This sometimes reveals unexpected threads in the fabric, and international networking by the art community is part of that weave. Berlin is a city of artists, and here you can truly sense it. The museum show sthe classics, but also responds quickly to the latest trends in contemporary art. The programme is undogmatic, thought-provoking and sometimes controversial – but then so is Berlin. The instituion offers an interdisciplinary collection that includes painting and sculpture, prints and drawings, photography and architecture, all dating from 1870 until the present day. This makes Berlinische Galerie fundamentally different from other exhibition venues in the German capital.

Till the end of May, you could enjoy here the fascinating, temporary exhibition entitled “Images in Fashion – Clothing in Art“. Fashion and art are mirrors of social changes and individual needs, and in the collection of the Berlinische Galerie, this theme is present in surprising and diverse ways. In addition to numerous fashion photographs spanning the 20th century (from Helmut Newton to Ute Mahler), just as many paintings and drawings testify to the role of fashion as a means of expression and representation of a particular era: from the reform dress around 1900 and the Dada dandies of the 1920s to avant-garde clothing designs in contemporary art. You can read more about this exhibition here!

Until the end of August, there’s also the Nina Canell exhibition going on. Her artistic practice does not revolve around the finished artwork; instead, it foregrounds process, synergy and entanglement. For the Berlinische Galerie, she has conceived an experiential installation that considers the material vitality of calcite. Literally crumbling under our own weight, seven tonnes of shells speak up from the ground, causing a sensation remote from that of walking on a gallery floor. Yet, crushed calcite from marine molluscs is an essential ingredient in concrete, a major constituent of our built environment. Here, the biomineral forms that feed the construction industry break down over the course of the exhibition. Material stress gives way to a sounding, durational sculpture, inviting us to consider the ineffable number of broken bodies that hold us up. This exhibition brings together several of Canell’s sculptural works and a video created with long-term collaborator Robin Watkins. Considering the overlaps between minerals, animals, energies and technologies, “Tectonic Tender” reflects the artist’s commitment to duration and circulation as fundamental sculptural tools.

Alte Jakobstraße 124-128 / Berlin

Photos by Edward Kanarecki

NET-A-PORTER Limited

Warsaw: Anna Bilińska’s Retrospective


Anna Bilińska was the first Polish female artist to gain international recognition. Her first solo retrospective at the National Museum in Warsaw takes place just now, in 2021, but it’s better late than never. Bilińska used oil paints, pastels and watercolours to create portraits, still lifes, genre scenes and landscapes in the style of European realism. The artist brilliantly mastered the basics of the painting technique, evidenced by her academic studies of models, which strike the viewer with their synthetic approach to the form and with their casual technique of painting. Of course, the artist also simultaneously continued the clear contour style, exemplified by her Male Nude Study (1885), Study for a Male Nude (ca. 1884-85) and Boy Nude (ca. 1884-85). Sketches for the historical and biblical compositions which Bilińska created in her youth have similar qualities but also display a bold expression of colour juxtaposition, as exemplified by Joseph Interprets Dreams (1883) and Inquisition (1884). Bilińska’s mature works consist predominantly of portraits and portrait studies of various ethnic types which were fashionable at that time. These pieces merge the refined simplicity of realism with an academic discipline of the painting technique, such as Head of a Serb (ca. 1884) or Old Man with a Book (ca. 1890s).Bilińska’s self-awareness and thoughts on the artist’s position in the world, which manifested itself in, among others, the representation of her own image in self-portraits, make her works so powerful. And still, the artist’s entire oeuvre and life story have yet to be thoroughly analysed and rediscovered…

The exhibition is on view until 10th of October 2021.

The National Museum in Warsaw is worth a visit in general! Here are some of my favourite artworks, especially from the 19th and 20th century galleries, from Józef Mehoffer’s enchanting Stange Garden to Jacek Malczewski’s prophetic visions.

Photos by Edward Kanarecki.

Zakopane Style

The Jaszczórówka wooden church constructed by Stanisław Witkiewicz in Zakopane

The Tratra mountains in Poland aren’t just beautiful nature, but as well an important epicenter of Polish culture. The origins of the Zakopane Style go back to the late 19th century, when the Arts and Crafts Movement was in full bloom. It was created by Stanisław Witkiewicz, who settled in Zakopane in 1890. The Zakopane Style was the first Polish national style that went beyond the framework of theoretical postulates and could be carried out in practice, not only in Zakopane, but also in many other places in Poland, particularly in the Austrian and Russian partition zones. Stanisław Witkiewicz came across this idea in 1898. The inspiration for the Zakopane Style was therefore more the Ruthenian Style, which the artist could have encountered in 1868–1872 during his studies in St. Petersburg. In 1886, after his first trip to Giewont, he wrote: “…the highlander hut is a higher sort of construction in which the practical features are decorated in an expression of certain aesthetic needs. This is less raw material than a fairly developed style from which one might evolve a new and independent type of building.”

The first home in the Zakopane Style was Zygmunt Gnatowski’s Koliba Villa, which Witkiewicz built in 1892–1894. Witkiewicz considered the highlander carpenters and woodcarvers to be co-creators of the architecture he designed. The Koliba Villa was meant to settle all doubts as to the possibility of reconciling folk architecture with the requirements of the more complex and refined demands of comfort and beauty. According to Stanisław Witkiewicz’s precepts, the Podhale hut was to be the model for the Zakopane Style villa, which the Polish artist sought to make the Polish national style. Furnishing the hut with stylish furniture and other everyday items of his own design was his point of departure. His main task was to use the characteristic attributes of folk furnishings, “artistically employing” the constructions themselves. Ornament was shifted to background, though in many cases it was an important element. Podhale folk ornament, much like that of other regions, was mainly limited to geometrical and plant motifs. In the Zakopane Style this repertoire was expanded with motifs of the flora of the Tatra Mountains.

Willa Koliba

Willa Koliba

Willa Koliba & Willa Oksza

The first attempts to use Podhale ornament in artistic crafts involved carving ornament on wooden furniture – chairs, beds, and a screen. Based on designs by Magdalena Butowt-Andrzejkowiczówna and adapted by Franciszek Neužil, this furniture was produced by the Professional School for the Wood Industry in Zakopane for Countess Róża Krasińska in the 1885/1886 academic year. Beginning in 1887, this decorative movement was promoted by the school and was called the Zakopane Style. Stanisław Witkiewicz was critical of this furniture, mainly for its construction “without regard for the shapes of the original highlander pieces.” The failed attempts of the Wood Carving School inclined him to adopt the “highland style” himself. In the course of five years the first villa furnishings in the Zakopane Style, some to his designs, emerged in the Koliba, Oksza, Zofiówka, and Pod Jedlami villas. Attempts were made to harmonize the furnishings with the villa architecture, while “every detail” was to be “covered with highlander ornament or given highlander shape” to fill the interiors, while also creating designs “that had never been seen in highlander huts.”

The Zakopane style dominated architecture in the Podhale region for many years. Although the cutoff date for buildings designed in the Zakopane Style of Architecture is usually held to be 1914, many new pensions, villas and highlander homes are built according to the architectural model devised by Witkiewicz to the present day. The museum of the Zakopane Style of Architecture located in the Villa Koliba provides visitors with information on the Zakopane style.

Willa Oksza

Willa Oksza

Willa Oksza (Witkacy’s paintings), store with local craftsmanship & Bachleda Resort Hotel.

All photos by Edward Kanarecki.

Polish Jazz. MISBHV SS19

misbhvFor a moment, let’s switch from resort look-books and New York’s off-the-schedule runways to Warsaw’s socrealist icon – Palace of Culture. Few days ago, Natalia Maczek and Tomek Wirski did their spring-summer 2019 runway show for the first time in Warsaw. MISBHV stands for so many things: to some, it’s a go-to streetwear label favoured by the big names (Kylie and all). For others, it’s an internationally recognized label that sells in stores among Vetements and Raf Simons. And the other others (like my friends, for instance) know it for great hoodies with intriguing prints.

This season, however, Maczek and Wirski wanted to explore new fields and do something different than usual. Having deep interests in the Polish 50s and 60s, the designers immersed themselves in a theme that doesn’t come up to you instantly when thinking of the brand. Jazz, or rather “Polish Jazz” (as the collection’s name suggests), became the season’s key-point. Moreover, MISBHV invited Rosław Szaybo, the legendary Polish graphic designer (who did album covers for Miles Davis, Janis Joplin and, of course, the cult “Polish Jazz” series) to collaborate on the prints. Blurring the lines between womenswear and menswear, the label’s latest offering includes flowing dresses, over-sized blazers, bike shorts, PVC coats and headscarves (a beautiful nod to Slavic culture!). But there are MISBHV classics as well, like the WARSZAWA print or friendly-to-the-public t-shirts. Polish fashion keeps on evolving, slowly, but it does. And seeing brands like MISBHV having such progress, and executing their visions so well, makes me really proud.

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki featuring Wojciech Plewiński’s photograph of Warsaw; Rosław Szaybo’s album covers.

SSENSE