Wilhelm Sasnal

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Date and place of birth: 1972, Tarnów, Poland

Living place: Cracov, Poland

Theme: art

ECC Participation: Dokc's Docs jury

photo: Bartosz Siedlik

International art magazines place Sasnal among the most important contemporary artists. His works can be seen in London’s Tate Modern, in the Pompidou Centre in Paris and New York’s Museum of Modern Art. In 2007, his works were exhibited at Zachęta National Gallery of Art and the book “The Political Critique’s Guide to Sasnal” was published. His works (“Ufo,” “Airplanes,” and the “Smoking Girls” triptych) have been sold at auctions for record high prices. Sasnal also makes experimental movies, paints murals (one adorns the wall of the Warsaw Uprising Museum) and creates spatial forms (like his postindustrial installation “28.03.83,” also known as “industrial fears,” erected in his old neighborhood of Mościce in Tarnów.)

”Unfortunately, my name has also become a product.”

Before Sasnal, who graduated from the Kraków Academy of Fine Arts in 1999, surfaced in the international art market, he was already an icon among his Polish contemporaries, with whom he shares a fascination with comic books. This fascination led him to create a quasi-biographical comic book called “Everyday Life in Poland, 1999-2001.” As many of his friends, he grew up listening to alternative music of the 1980s and 1990s. In 2010, he designed an album cover for Kryzys, a legendary Polish punk rock band.

In 1996, Sasnal co-founded Ładnie, a collective of pop-banalists who use bits and pieces of everyday life to expose the absurdity of a reality based on rampant consumerism. Sasnal calls himself a realist painter. In creating his works he employs tasteful, aesthetically pleasing, minimalist means (including simple symbols, outlines of figures, simplified shapes of objects,) and often uses known photographs and frames from movies. He taps into the pool of easily recognizable images encoded in our collective memory but then presents them in an ambiguous and disturbing way. Themes used by Sasnal in his artistic output include everyday life, autobiography (“Gym Lesson,” “Mościce 1,”) politics (“Terrorist Equipment,”) war (the “Partisans” series,) the Holocaust (paintings inspired by Art Spiegelman’s famous comic book) and the history of Poland (“Narutowicz,” “Wyszyński.”)

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