‘Leibeigene’ by Mikołaj Sobczak
In a range of media spanning paintings, films, performances, drawings and ceramics, Mikołaj Sobczak deals predominantly with the representation of historical events. With „Leibeigene”, Kunsthalle Münster is staging the artist’s first institutional solo exhibition outside Poland conceived to present the various facets of his artistic oeuvre.
Several groups of works by the artist, created in recent years, are on view at the Kunsthalle. In addition to the series of „Metamorphoses” (2021)—a series of cut outs that stand freely in space—his film „Upiór” (2022) is shown, surrounded by several paintings that make reference to Polish-Ukrainian history and the oppression of Ukraine. Sobczak’s new film „Up in the Attic” (2022) premiered in the context of the exhibition as well as his monumental painting „The Vision” (2022), which was created especially for the exhibition. The work’s point of departure is the socio-economic situation of the early 16th century, in which a long series of European uprisings and acts of resistance gave rise to new models for living together.
Sobczak poses questions about a new collective culture of identity and memory with his works. Referencing historical events, but also fictional narratives such as fairy tales, sagas and myths, he expands the narrative patterns underlying traditional, canonized and instrumentalized history to include moments of emancipation. In times of political radicalization, Sobczaks art invites us to engage with the construction of history. In his paintings, he plays with the convention of classical history painting by using the original qualities of the genre for his works. His condensed renderings are often based on compositions of iconic paintings; the quotations are compiled in a collage-like manner and transferred into new contexts, not least by confronting them with motifs deriving from counterculture or popular culture. With figures originating from a variety of contexts—every person, every place, every object has its own story—his works are marked by a rather complex iconography. The collage as the chosen artistic form reveals fragments of history, allows history(s) to be told in all its diversity and thus breaks with a historical simplification of events. Here, history does not give the impression of being fully told or completed. On the contrary, it provides multiple points of reference the viewer can link up with. Sobczak devotes himself to stories beyond the ideological representations of official historiography. He thus creates contemporary historical images with depictions of outstanding protagonists from LGBTQI+ activism, queer and emancipatory countercultural milieus and resistance movements, in imaginative company with fantastic characters and creatures representing the vision of a transnational utopia. His focus lies above all on marginalized personalities, those side-lined or erased from history.
|Place / venue||Kunsthalle Münster|
|Dates||16.10.2022 - 22.01.2023|
|Curated by||Merle Radtke|
|Index||germany Kunsthalle Münster Merle Radtke Mikołaj Sobczak poland Volker Renner|