Wilhelm Sasnal (b. 1972)
Untitled (Touch me) (2002)<(2002)
The Band (2004)
Kuchnia (no date)
Wilhelm Sasnal makes paintings in response to the abundance of imagery that emerged in Eastern Europe after the fall of communism. No two Sasnal paintings ever look alike: he makes pop paintings, naturalistic paintings and abstracts. Some of his works look like still lifes, others like street scenes or record labels. Sasnal has even been known to make paintings about nothing at all: a roll of tape, a computer disk or a plant.
Wilhelm Sasnal is one of the most celebrated artists to emerge from Eastern Europe in recent years. Working from his home country Poland, he uses painting as a means to intimately negotiate his position within (new) capitalist culture. Sasnal's work is prolific, varied and deliberately unclassifiable as a strategy: digesting his practice is akin to swallowing mass media whole.
Sasnal draws his subject matter from day-to-day reality. The most banal examples of still life mingle with commensurate importance to propaganda icons, advertising and photojournalistic imagery. Wilhelm Sasnal approaches image production as a formal exercise, ranging from abstract to figurative with schizophrenic adaptation of style and technique. Through making, he renders all things equal.
For Wilhelm Sasnal, painting is imperative as a means of challenging traditional expectations of representation and perception. Through his intervention, subject matter becomes distorted: images are pared down to the bare essentials and estranged from their original context or meaning.
Stripping authority of its power, Wilhelm Sasnal renders the political as defunct and the irrelevant as intrinsic. A suicide bomber's belt sits innocuously next to an image of a pop star, an agitprop photo of factory workers is given a Warholian edge, and a Soviet sculpture is cropped and repainted as pure decoration. Using a predominantly black-and-white palette, Wilhelm Sasnal approaches painting as a reductive process. Information is lost in translation and replicated images only exist as mere vestiges of themselves.
Wilhelm Sasnal's practice doesn't celebrate freedom, but a shift in conformity. It strives to define personal experience of an impersonal world. Through his painting, he explores a no man's land where private and public converge in a sluice of shared memory. Operating as his own self-sustaining information source, Wilhelm Sasnal imposes his world order on politics, celebrity, art history and banality, quietly developing a position of individual conscience.