Konrad Smoleński / The Best Gallery / Zachęta – National Gallery of Art, Warsaw, 30.08-15.10.2017


Every gallery wants to have the reputation of being the best. The artists from Azorro Group tackled this idea in a humorous way, in Berlin, while looking for the Best Gallery, where they could show their works. And perhaps they found it: this year, their film became part of Zachęta’s collection.

As a gallery intended for temporary exhibitions, Zachęta does not have a permanent exposition, but this gives us a reason to cyclically present fragments of our collection and show them in various configurations. This time we proudly present the new arrivals in two of the gallery rooms. Most of the works that recently enlarged our collection are presented in order to prove that their choice is not accidental and that they are embedded in the context of our current activity.

Since the beginning of the 1990s, a decision was made to expand Zacheta’s collection with works by contemporary artists in connection with the exhibition and educational program of the gallery. This choice was considered to be a guarantee of artistic quality and a distinguishing feature among the collections of other institutions of contemporary art. Purchase decisions are made by a purchasing commission appointed for this purpose. It also reviews works donated by artists and donors for compliance with the collection’s profile, and assures that new works correspond with those already in our possession, creating common narratives and entering into dialogue.

An important feature of the process of building Zacheta’s collection is to construct a rich and varied image of contemporary Polish art — also thanks to the connections created between the works from the collection and the unusually rich archive of artistic life gathered by Zachęta’s documentation department. This year’s acquisitions include, among others the following gifts: sculptures by Jerzy Jarnuszkiewicz and a painting by Tomasz Osiński — unique works by authors not yet present in our collection. The works of Stefan Gierowski, Jacek Malinowski and Konrad Smoleński perfectly complement the existing works of these artists. We also expand some historical contexts. On the one hand, we have included works by Olga Wolniak or Ewa Zarzycka; on the other, the installation 15 Polish Painters, inspired by the work of Porter McCray, director of the International Program at MoMA, invokes an important moment in Polish art history of the 1950s and 1960s. Our collection also includes works exhibited or produced by Zachęta within projects implemented both in the gallery building and elsewhere. Apart from the above mentioned works by Konrad Smoleński, presented at the exhibition Money to Burn, a film by Jacek Malinowski Stain, produced on the occasion of the artist’s exhibition Bi-Polar, we included in the exhibition a video installation by C.T. Jasper and Joanna Malinowska Halka/Haiti 18°48′05′′N 72°23′01′′ prepared for the Polish Pavilion at the 56th International Art Exhibition in Venice, and some of the works shown at the Common Affairs exhibition held last year at the Deutsche Bank KunstHalle in Berlin (video Platform by Anna Molska, Nowe Życie by Elżbieta Jabłońska and Office for Monument Construction by Karolina Breguła, The Best Gallery by the Azorro group, and the accompanying film by this group Self-fulfilling Prophecy). Zachęta Project Room plays an important role during the selection of artists from the younger generation. The Flowerpot by Katarzyna Przezwańska was an element of the exhibition Łysa Góra Experiment — 50 Years Later, at the Zachęta Project Room and it has been placed permanently at the entrance to the Gallery.

Last year our collection gained popularity thanks to the crowdfunding action Build the Zachęta collection with us. Its great success has shown that we can count on our audience.

The development of the Zachęta collection is also possible thanks to the funds from the Minister of Culture and National Heritage within the Regional Collections of Contemporary Art programme and the support of permanent funders: ING Polish Art Foundation and the Society for the Encouragement of Fine Arts. We will consistently develop it further