June 18, 2005
For the first time, Polish artist Wilhelm Sasnal has created an entire body of work in the United States, of which a dozen paintings and a group of large ink drawings will be on view at Anton Kern Gallery from May 19 through June 18, 2005.
Wilhelm Sasnal, who just finished a two-month residency at the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas, is currently included in a group show at the Reykjavik Art Museum, and this fall, will present his film work in a solo exhibition at the Matrix gallery at the Berkeley Art Museum.
The works presented in the exhibition, paintings of cacti and bottles, portraits of figures from the time of prohibition, and large-scale black ink drawings of historical scenes of smuggling, are equally inspired by nature and by history. Upon entering the country and without specific plans for the work, Sasnal bought art materials, especially paper and ink for practical purposes (but also because of his interest in the language of comics), and then drove off to Marfa, TX, all the while picking up other crucial ingredients, namely books on the history of the Mississippi, and the time of prohibition, many of them illustrated.
The result of this encounter is a diverse body of work with a strong common theme: the artist’s experience of U.S. history. The question of how to acquire experience and information for understanding past and present events is at the center of all of Sasnal’s work. Here, the Mississippi as a vital artery of legal and illegal exchange becomes a metaphor for the conflicting forces that make up history.