May 31, 2019

A land of Cockaigne (exhibition/ ABC Gallery, Poznań
Strzeszynek Wypoczynek (replica of a neon by Z. Kaja/ Poznański Park Rzeźby Visual Park

17 June 2019 – 20 July 2019
Launch 17 June 2019, 8 pm

The vast majority of collective shows of contemporary art organised these days addresses the questions that are central to the exhibition mottos. This seems only fit and proper: nearly all aspects of the present-day reality trigger dilemmas, provoke questions and generate debate. Art, one of the most sensitive seismographs of social and political life, finely tuned to catch the births of new ideas and of the demise of old ones, naturally responds to the oscillations, at times prophetically, at other times critically, fulfilling the demand of commitment and involvement.

The concept of the show titled “The Land of Milk and Honey” was born out of a longing for Matisse’s idea of “art as a comfortable armchair”, which is aesthetic, joyful and harmonious, a veritable feast for the eye and the spirit. The other inspiration was reflection on the question: “What is the mythical land of Cockaigne today? What is the present-day land of extreme luxury and ease, abundance and bliss?” The topics addressed by the works selected for the exhibition seemingly relate to the least problematic realm of human activity: relaxation, fun, entertainment, and recreation. Just like The Land of Cockaigne by Pieter Bruegel, each object on display hides its invisible part behind the aesthetically pleasing façade. The legendary “Land of Cockaigne” in the context of the worship of youth and the omnipresent pursuit of unending and unconditional wellness & fitness once more proves to be an unattainable utopia.

The exhibition will have its very significant annex – another object to be unveiled on the same day on the premises of the Poznań Visual Park in the immediate vicinity of The ABC Gallery building. This will be a replica of a monumental neon by the late Zbigniew Kaja, an eminent graphic artist, author of stage sets, co-founder of the Polish school of poster. The Strzeszynek – Wypoczynek neon, with motifs of landscape and water sports (lake waves, the sun, a sailing boat) was made in the mid-1970s on a wall of a house at the intersection of Hetmańska and Głogowska streets in Poznań. In the 1980, it was taken down and destroyed beyond repair. The replica is being made on the basis of very few extant black-and-white photographs.

Katarzyna Jankowiak-Gumna

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