A new gallery is now open in London, l’étrangère, with the opening exhibition of the first UK solo presentation of Marek Szczęsny. Throughout a career spanning almost forty years, Szczęsny has worked on canvas and paper to produce paintings that oscillate between abstraction and figuration, the subjective gaze and the personal encounter. We recently interviewed the director of the new gallery, Joanna Mackiewicz-Gemes, about the opening exhibition, what people can expect from the gallery and what the future holds.
How does it feel to have the new gallery open?
Exciting, challenging, scary, expensive
Why did you choose to open the gallery in London?
The opportunity came, a space became available. Last year I was involved in exhibition projects with a couple of galleries, including Mummery+Schnelle whose space I’ve taken over, and so I thought may be it is time to test my own ideas.
What can people expect from visiting the gallery?
I intend to show artist who have something in common in a way they address different aspects of l’étrangère, be it political, social, psychological, philosophical, personal, reflecting a certain critical unity of the concept.
Why did you choose to open with the exhibition of Marek Szczesny’s work?
Marek’s work typifies an outsider who breaks the rules. By ripping the papers and roughly stacking the pieces together, he implies rupture with the safe and comfortable environment and the challenges of piecing together new existence in unknown, precarious, often hostile circumstances. This making up of identity based on unstable, constantly shifting foundations, “liquid modernity” as defined by Zygmunt Bauman, reflects the modern society and Marek’s paintings and works on paper are acute representation of the issues addressed by this concept.
Contemporary art is proving popular at the moment, how would you describe Szczesny’s take on contemporary?
Szczęsny, typically for an outsider, goes against the obviously fashionable and fickle contemporary. At the same time, this, in my opinion, is precisely the contemporary, ie the individual, fragmented, angry, isolated, anti-aesthetic, challenging, frustrated. Marek stubbornly uses traditional artist’s tools, ie paint, paper, canvas but reflects through it the current anxieties of an unstable society.
What do you hope the audience will gain from the exhibition?
I hope that a lot of visitors will reflect on who they are and where they belong in modern society and identify with the issues of “liquid modernity” and its potential consequences.
What are the galleries plans for the future, any plans for upcoming exhibitions?
The next couple of exhibitions will be photography of younger generation artists who reflect on the ideas of “liquid modernist” society, commenting on its shifting foundations and questioning the role of the media in forming of our identities the expectations of beauty and the ideals of taste.
The gallery and new exhibition are now open so be sure to check it out.
44a Charlotte Road London EC2A 3PD 0