Early Warning System

Czapski Palace, Academy of Fine Artis in Warsaw
ul. Krakowskie Przedmieście 5

Can artists signal approaching danger through their creativity and engagement? This question is posed by Diana Lelonek who is curating a show with paintings by Rajmund Ziemski which will be presented alongside works of contemporary artists from Poland and abroad.

The starting point of the exhibition Early Warning System are the paintings of Rajmund Ziemski, one of the most outstanding representatives of post-war Polish painting, which are juxtaposed with works by contemporary artists: Matthias Garff,
Joanna Rajkowska, Anna Siekierska, Bartek Zalewski, Weronika Zalewska, and Zoe (Małgorzata Gurowska and Agata Szydłowska), approximately 150 years apart.

The works presented at the exhibition are united by the creators’ concern about the future of the Earth, nature, and humanity.

The title of the exhibition Early Warning System originates from the function served by a caged canary in 20th-century mines. The bird acted as a “living” sensor that warned miners of the danger of an explosion. Canaries are highly sensitive to gases, particularly toxic carbon monoxide. The bird quickly senses its presence, visibly changing its behavior – losing consciousness and ceasing to sing, signaling miners to evacuate. Although electronic sensors have been used in mines since 1986, the idiom “Canary in the coal mine” has persisted. It is used to describe a sensitive person who detects changes in advance and warns of an impending disaster. Do artists fulfill a similar role? Can the intuition of artists also be considered an early warning system?

Rajmund Ziemski believed that the role of artists is indeed to warn. He himself spoke about his works: Contemporary civilization has bestowed upon us so many threats, with the threat of atomic annihilation at the forefront, that I believe the primary task of artists at this moment is to warn. And that is precisely what I want to do. My paintings do not speak of the charms of the world; instead, they warn against the worst – madness and dehumanization. My intentions are clear. Fear stemming from concern and love is something completely different from terror.

Exhibition organizers: The Rajmund Ziemski Foundation, Ziemski Art, and the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts (ASP Warsaw).
Partners: PGE Foundation, Eneris, dela.art collection, TESTA.
Official website

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