Tomasz Bielak / Michał Chudzicki / Julia Curyło / Rafał Czępiński / Marta Fic / Eliza Galey / Viola Głowacka / Jan Gryka / Paulina Kara / Maja Kitajewska / Cezary Klimaszewski / Bartosz Kokosiński / Karolina Komorowska / Danuta Kuciak / Robert Kuśmirowski / Konrad Maciejewicz / Anna Nawrot / Irena Nawrot / Edmund Okstom / Szymon Popielec / Michał Stachyra / Kamil Stańczak / Mariusz Tarkawian / Monika Zawadzki
The exhibition is another major manifestation of artistic environment, associated with the Biała Gallery. Last presentation of this kind took place in 2009 in Lublin and in 2011 in Bielsko-Biala.
Biala.art.pl is a show of the most recent visual explorations of the artists who represent various generations – from students to mature artists, working primarily in Lublin and Krakow and Warsaw.
The subject of the presented works is very ambiguous and diverse, such as artistic media used in drawing, objects, installations, photography, collage’s, paintings, art books and posters. The exhibition area is almost 600 sq.m.
The curator of the show is Jan Gryka.
Biala.art.pl is yet another major exhibition featuring works of the artistic milieu associated with the Biała Gallery. Similar manifestations of art have been repeatedly held at Biała since the mid-1980s and they have always aimed at presenting the most recent works of artists collaborating with the gallery based in Lublin. Although every time the configuration of artists invited to take part in the recurring exhibitions differ, some of the names tend to reappear.
Over the years, the aforementioned group shows have been organized not only in various rooms of the Centre for Culture in Lublin, but also at the galleries in: Cracow, Katowice, Berlin, Poznań, Warsaw, Gdańsk, Lviv, Stockholm, Sanok, Kiev and – most recently – in Bielsko-Biała.
The titles of the said exhibitions have usually referred to the colour white [“Biała” = white], including: White Guard, Biała – Art Without Walls, White Decade, White Art, White Spring, White Tango, Ten Squares for Biała, Nova Biała, White Class, White Combinations, Nine Squares for Biała, Biała at the Biała, and The Unbearable Lightness of White. Other titles of the exhibition series included: Balance – Balance, Postacademia, Transgression of Imagination, Complete Renovation and Alternative Collection.
Biala.art.pl is the first major group exhibition held in the new space of the Biała Gallery. The artists participating in the show represent various generations, ranging from recognized and mature artists over fifty to students of the MCSU Institute of Fine Arts in Lublin. They all work with various interdisciplinary media and have different styles, which is in line with what Biała has been doing over the years.
Therefore, the exhibition includes: drawings, paintings, sculptures, art books, photographs, objects, installations, collages, performances, mixed media, billboards and posters. The diversity of different media is characteristic of what once was known as the „white art”. Our goal is to keep that tradition alive. When we opened the gallery in 1980s, we started to collaborate with Leon Tarasewicz, whose painting style differed markedly from the canons typical of that time. Since then, our approach has not changed as we are still looking for young artists whose art does not conform to mainstream expectations. Works by Mariusz Tarkawian, Konrad Maciejewicz or Szymon Popielec may serve as examples illustrating our attempts. The already mentioned Leon Tarasewicz, but also Krzysztof Sołowiej or Robert Maciejuk, and many others, do not participate in this exhibition only because either they have recently presented their works at Biała or they are soon going to have their own shows.
Furthermore, the majority of artists invited to take part in biala.art.pl are closely linked with Lublin. Cezary Klimaszewski, Eliza Galey and Karolina Komorowska were born here. Others, like Anna and Irena Nawrot, Danuta Kuciak, Robert Kuśmirowski, Rafał Czępiński and myself do not come from Lublin, but we live and work here. Some artists, including Mariusz Tarkawian, Michał Stachyra and Konrad Maciejewicz left the city and moved to Warsaw, Viola Głowacka moved to Cracow, Paulina Kara – to Nisko, Szymon Popielec is still on the road and has not made any decision yet. Marta Fic and Edmund Okstom are studying in Lublin. On the other hand, Tomasz Bielak, Michał Chudzicki and Kamil Stańczak returned to Lublin and I hope that those who moved to other Polish cities will also come back here someday. Julia Curyło, Maja Kitajewska, Monika Zawadzki and Bartosz Kokosiński are connected with the city only through exhibitions at the Biała Gallery.
Similarly to artists travelling the world to exhibit or to look for new places to live and work, the Biała Gallery was wandering around various rooms of the “old” and “new” Centre for Culture. The gallery opened in 1985 and it took its name from a white-painted room located on the first floor of the Lublin Community Centre. The room with an area of almost one hundred square metres had four windows on the right wall and a tiled stove on the left. Sometimes, one could even find there a black piano. Moreover, apart from exhibitions, yoga classes were held there! With time, the white room was painted black and adapted as the theatre space. As for the gallery, we were given a room on the ground floor – number nineteen – which was a bit smaller and more square-like. We shared that space with a children’s dancing group called “Rhythm”.
At the beginning of 1990s, the alternative theatre companies returned to the Lublin Community Centre, which changed its name into the Centre for Culture. The gallery lost the majority of its exhibition space and we were left with a small, so-called Fireplace Room with the area of thirty-six square metres. At that time our office consisted of one desk and a chair. Finally, we managed to expand the exhibition space by one more room with the area of sixteen square metres and another one, with the same area, that we used as an office. All these rooms formed an enfilade. Upon entering the smaller exhibit space there was the office on the right, which also functioned as a storeroom, and on the left there was the entrance to the larger exhibit space. We stayed there until 2009, when the building housing the Centre for Culture closed for renovation. It is also worth mentioning that from time to time, we also occupied other rooms of the Centre, such as those abandoned by the Musical Theatre or Medical Academy, which used to have there their laboratories or offices .
In my opinion, the best time for the gallery was between 2009 and 2013, when we moved to our temporary location at 32 Narutowicza Street. Not only did we have permanent exhibition spaces at our disposal – one on the ground floor and the other in the basement, where we organized exhibitions under the Young Art Forum – but we also created the Art Yard open to the public, we had a large studio with a storeroom, cosy office rooms and even a flower bed. At that time we organized around twenty exhibitions a year and over a dozen various events from the series “Wieża Bab-L” and “ende neu”.
In 2013, when the renovation of the Centre for Culture was completed, we returned to our former location. However, the exhibition space changed considerably – from sixty to six hundred square metres. Therefore, the gallery prepared a new programme, including large retrospective exhibitions and group shows, as well as an entirely new vacation offer. We promote young artists and launch educational and musical programmes. However, even though the metric area has improved, the dismembered exhibit space turned out to be very demanding and difficult. The space consisting of several separate rooms and a corridor that divides them creates problems on both technical and content-related level.
Therefore, biala.art.pl is both the continuation of the old model and an attempt to define a new one – at least this is what I hope for.