Magazine article Artforum International

Radek Szlaga: CENTRE FOR CONTEMPORARY ART UJAZDOWSKI CASTLE

Magazine article Artforum International

Radek Szlaga: CENTRE FOR CONTEMPORARY ART UJAZDOWSKI CASTLE

Article excerpt

Radek Szlaga paints his canvases with such a dense layering of colors that the figures he portrays seem to melt into the viscous surface, even as the entire tableau glows with an inner light. Rut while the sheer materiality of these works indicates that painting is quite literally Szlaga's primary medium, his recent show in Warsaw, "Freedom Club," exhibited other components of his practice. For example, Guerilla Potato Plantation, 2012, which entirely occupied one of the show's four rooms, consisted of slides projected on two walls of the room and, standing in the middle of it, a greenhouse. Inside, Szlaga had planted potato seedlings, whichgrew throughout the course of the exhibition. The slides offered clues to the complex iconosphere that he operates with and within. Some are taken from details of Szlaga's drawings and paintings; others depict the hamlet of Szlagowka, where he used to live and where his family still resides. The slides show the village's inhabitants--Stlaga's aunt dressed in a head scarf, for instance--and elements of their harsh everyday life: farmyards, chickens, cows. Repeated and reconrextualized in his pa in rings, as well as through the transformation from painting to slide, these images function as graphic signs. Szlaga underscores this graphic quality by scratching the slides, coloring them, erasing, and adding new elements. Bringing his process full circle, he eventually projects these images back onto canvas and paints them, with the resulting paintings becoming in turn material for further development. This can be seen by comparing the slick show in Guerilla Potato Plantation, with the paintings New Great Narrations, 2012, and Guerilla Gardening, 2011.

But Szlaga treats the austere Polish countryside as more than just a source of visual motifs. He also interprets it as a site for the development of potentially subversive ideas. …

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