This past summer, I travelled to Europe and spent just over a week visiting Warsaw’s contemporary galleries. My partner was writing a short article on the local art scene for a Japanese art magazine and I was gathering my thoughts on the same subject. We spent most of our time chatting with the gallerists, learning about Polish art in the last decade, and attending openings and receptions, which start at 7pm and often last well past midnight. A well-planned day is sufficient to visit all of the galleries, but we took our time and soaked up the Warsaw art world.
The seventeen major galleries in Warsaw emerged through participating in international art fairs and projects and by exhibiting strong shows of emerging artists. While we were in Warsaw, Artur Zmijewski was making his mark curating the controversial Berlin Biennial. Foksal Gallery Foundation and Raster Gallery and recently Leto have been seen in Frieze and Basel Art Fairs. A fraction of what New York or even Berlin can offer, Warsaw's art scene is still the biggest in "that part of Europe." It's only natural that the organizers of the upcoming late in September Warsaw Gallery Weekend and the Polish press refrain from calling that part of Europe "Eastern" or even "Central.” After all, Poland just presided over the European Union.
Polish artists shown at Hauser & Wirth or Gagosian, such as Wilhelm Sasnal, Monika Sosnowska, and Piotr Uklanski, seem fresh to New York City galleries, but are already part of the ‘establishment’ at home and often too expensive to be collected by their original afficionados. But there is plenty of new blood, often studied in Poland and abroad, who now split their time between Warsaw and Berlin or London. Warsaw is also quite trendy.  A burgeoning restaurant season features Polish tapas, peroigis meet the Barcelona of the East- fashion dandies are everywhere and art, which could stand up well to New York's Lower East Side scene, is thriving. For an infrequent visitor it's a refreshing image of Warsaw- the leader of "that part" of the region.
  • -Aneta Glinkowska
Aneta Glinkowska is the Brooklyn-based co-founder of NYArtBeat. A photographer and videographer, she's been an avid documentarian of her life, including art events she attends several times a week @perke.
September 2012