In his first show for Sadie Coles HQ, the Polish artist Wilhelm Sasnal presents a group of new paintings.
As a painter Sasnal deliberately eludes categorisation, working in both the abstract and the figurative, constantly shifting subject matter, technique and style. He often works from both his own snap-shots and appropriated images. Aesthetically, however, the paintings are far removed from the brashness of Pop. With their sober, measured tone they nod more towards the legacy of post-war German and American painting, existing in some respects as formal exercises.
The work toys with the conventions of representation. Sasnal’s use of perspective and focus disrupts our expectations - blue churches hang upside down; at a concert we see only the silhouetted heads and arms of a part of the crowd; at the zoo we are shown a section of the bleak grey stone walls of the enclosures; aerial views of vast sprawling industrial cities become abstract patterns. There is an air of detachment to these experiments through which he attempts to understand and record visual reality.
There is another dimension to these exercises which sees the medium itself become the subject, as Sasnal concentrates on new ways in which to manipulate and apply his paint. In painting seaweed he uses his bare hands, while in his image of a windy tree, it is as if the paint itself has been swept across the paper by the elements. We latch onto the subtitles of the paintings, which indicate to us the subject, while he works towards the real Untitled matter of the painting.
Wilhelm Sasnal was born in Tarnow, Poland, where he continues to live and work. He has had solo and group shows throughout Europe and in the USA, including one person shows this year at MUHKA in Antwerp, Kunstverein in Münster and Kunsthalle Zürich.