16 January - 12 March 2023

Who is Janina Węgrzynowska?


Janina Węgrzynowska, "Grey-Orange Painting", 1979, oil on canvas, Galeria Studio Collection

Janina Węgrzynowska, Agata Bogacka, Jenny Brockmann, Marcin Dymiter, Ludomir Franczak, Magdalena Franczak, Agnieszka Grodzińska, Dagmar Schürrer 

Opening: Monday, 16.01, 2023 at 7:00 pm
The exhibition will be open from 16.01–12.03, 2023
Tuesday to Sunday, 12:00–7:00 pm

This exhibition was born out of a need to tell the stories of artists whose lives and works are fascinating, but who have found themselves outside the ‘art circuit,’ and thus remain unnoticed. The project began with “Grey-Orange Painting” (1979) by Janina Węgrzynowska (1930-2010), which is in the Galeria Studio Collection. During preparation for the Collection’s exhibition in 2021, curator Paulina Olszewska became interested in the op-art composition and its author, about whom only scraps of information could be found.

The figure of Janina Węgrzynowska, an artist associated with Warsaw, seems to duplicate the biographies of many women active in the field of art in the 20th century, in Poland and around the world. They are often characterized by innovative and progressive thinking about art and an interdisciplinarity across many fields. They were, and in some cases still are, experimental and committed artists, working intensely for most of their lives. And yet they often exist outside of the mainstream, without sufficient support or adequate opportunity for their talent to be apparent. In turn, after death, their work, often left unattended, is condemned to dispersal or destruction, and thus to oblivion.

Our story about Węgrzynowska and her art involves, among other things, initiating a dialogue with contemporary artists. The curator has invited people from different backgrounds, working in various media and art fields, to draw attention to the topicality of Węgrzynowska’s practice and put it back into artistic circulation. An important aspect of this approach is to surround the artist with care and to attend to her oeuvre and archive. The exhibition provides an opportunity to establish a symbolic relationship between the invited artists and Węgrzynowska and her work. It is also an attempt to draw attention to the insufficient presence of female artists, both deceased and still active, in the field of art.

The invitation to participate in the project was for most people also their first contact with Węgrzynowska and her art, becoming a source of inspiration for them. Agata Bogacka will enter into a painting dialogue with Węgrzynowska. Berlin-based artist Jenny Brockmann became interested in the artist’s collaboration with lecturers from the Warsaw University of Technology to create of a laser work for a show at Galeria Studio in 2005. Austrian artist Dagmar Schürrer will translate Węgrzynowska’s three-dimensional op-art compositions into the language of augmented reality (AR). Agnieszka Grodzińska is focusing on the process of making an artwork and ways to create optical illusion. Magdalena and Ludomir Franczak first encountered Węgrzynowska less than a decade ago when her legacy reached Lublin. This encounter with the artist’s oeuvre inspired Ludomir Franczak to create a project at the intersection of theater, visual arts and documentary film, titled The Life and Death of Janina Węgrzynowska (2016). For this exhibition the artist will use scenographic elements, complemented with unfinished works by Węgrzynowska and a sound layer composed for the show by Marcin Dymiter in collaboration with Franczak. Magdalena Franczak will reach back into Węgrzynowska’s diaries, especially the experiences she describes of working in the studio and with its physical space. Franczak will combine this with ritual practices and transform it into the form of a ceramic installation.

Curator: Paulina Olszewska

More: Who is Janina Węgrzynowska?


Co-organizer: BWA Bydgoszcz
Partner: Arton Foundation, Warsaw
The project was made possible with the support of ifa- Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen, Austrian Culture Forum

The exhibition is co-organized with BWA Bydgoszcz, where it will be on view from March 23 to May 21, 2023.

The project is being developed in cooperation with the Arton Foundation, which has undertaken the care and compilation of Janina Węgrzynowska’s oeuvre. To mark the occasion, an exhibition presenting a selection of materials from the artist’s archive, including works on paper, will take place at the Foundation’s gallery between 9 February 2023 and 29 April 2023.

We would like to thank our partners Syrena Real Estate and Pinebridge Benson Elliot for their support and for providing the Art Apartment artist’s residency in the HOP building at 132/134 Chmielna St. in Warsaw.

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