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New Szajna's exibition in Warsaw

Szajna: I aim bang on target – I have no time for misses shots

29 October – 11 December 2022
Museum of Caricature

Exhibition organised on the 100th anniversary of the birth of Józef Szajna, one of the most important artists of post-war Polish art.

The exhibition is accompanied by a lavishly illustrated publication. The folder contains an essay by the curator about Szajna and his art, which is a record of his struggle with the trauma of war.

about the exhibition

The human being always remained at the centre of Józef Szajna’s interests. His oeuvre, marked by the Auschwitz experience, was one continuous attempt to understand human nature.

Reminiscences of war, images of civilisation as waste, and a dialogue with the artistic tradition – were what defined his aesthetic: ‘Everything in my art has its source in me,’ he commented, ‘in what I have experienced, but also what I have understood and thought out. […] The individual undergoes changes, and, in the society, becomes progressively duller. I am no longer the same person that I was a quarter of a century ago. […] I don’t want life to pass me by. I aim bang on target since I have no time for missed shots. I have staged myself, my life, my art, and my theatre [...].”

Szajna’s artistic works focused on the body and on matter. Through their enhanced sensuality, they drew on the audience’s intellect and sensitivity. Our exhibition presents Szajna’s variations on the human figure and face.

On the example of theatrical figures, installations, assemblages, and photographic documentation of spectacles, as well as works created on paper, we familiarise our visitors with the repertoire of motifs and conventions drawn upon by Szajna’s TE-ART. All these projects are, on the one hand, the visions of an idealist and Utopian who believed in art’s power to change things; on the other – they are reflections of a genuine satirist, with a tendency towards the grotesque.

Szajna’s anti-aesthetic served to convey ethical values. In his art, he asked questions concerning humanity, warned us against the ever present, catastrophic threat of war, formed accusations against totalitarian systems, and attacked present-day consumerist, careerist attitudes. His art is still topical today, and will remain so – since, as the artist put it, ‘humans neglect to care for themselves’.