April 14, 2007
March 21, 2007—Wilhelm Sasnal’s third solo exhibition at Anton Kern Gallery consists of a 16 mm film projection, a set of posters (ink on paper), and a group of paintings. All works are held together by the theme of intoxication, which is introduced through the film’s narrative, structure, and atmosphere.
Sasnal’s film is, itself, based on an early 1960s Polish movie depicting—in fictionalized form—a historic event in which the protagonist finds gallons of industrial methyl alcohol, sells it as vodka and thereby causes widespread illness, blindness, and death. Sasnal, however, is not out to romanticize or vilify the effects of alcohol, or to describe the place of alcohol in the poetic mind. Rather, by creating a distanced, in fact twice removed relationship between the viewer and the events unfolding on screen (of a nation under the influence), his interest lies in the relationship between the appearance of the film images, the paintings and the relating (historical and current) social and political events. It is the metaphor of alcohol that Sasnal uses as a template to engage with history and memory in general, to start a conversation between past and present in a non-nostalgic and radical way. In motifs such as a faceless man tormented by a hang-over headache, or a disorienting perspectival view inside a cubic structure, or a look into the blinding sun from behind silhouetted grain, Sasnal formulates precise image ideas and transforms them—with a visual clarity reminiscent of poster art—into paintings that capture the uncertainty of life
2007Art in AmericaWilhelm Sasnal