The International Print Triennial 2021

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  • Tuesday, June 8, 2021 - Saturday, September 11, 2021

The seven exhibitions shown at this year’s International Print Triennial in Krakow are a mosaic of the fears and anxieties being confronted by artists all over the globe.

The International Print Triennial in Krakow (MTG) – one of the most important and longest-running events dedicated to visual arts in Poland – has been held in Kraków since 1966. In the early years events ran on a biennial cycle, switching to a triennial format in the 1990s.

This year’s flagship events are the international Main Exhibition, held under the banner “Dissonant Futures”, and the experimental transgraphia. The latter, first held in 2018, is a review of works by young Polish artists whose art breaks the boundaries of classic artistic printmaking. It also includes individual and collective exhibitions presenting the most interesting individuals and circles in the genre. This year the international competition and the transgraphia 2.0 competition received almost a thousand submissions from artists from Poland and abroad.

“Dissonant futures is a motto encouraging us to reflect upon the state of the world today. The future – once the battle cry of artists of the Great Avantgarde synonymous with optimism and a hope for a better tomorrow – has recently become a term which invokes anxiety and even fear. The coronavirus pandemic which has been raging around the globe for over a year is a major natural disaster affecting us all, and a catalyst of ‘unfinished business’ in social and political spheres, human relations and issues of climate change. At the same time we are increasingly aware of the vast inequalities and desperate living conditions in different parts of the world, and the conflicting interests of certain groups, each fighting for its own interest and future,” says Marta Raczek-Karcz, President of the Board of the International Print Triennial Society in Kraków.

In previous years, the main exhibition has been held at Bunkier Sztuki. Since the gallery is currently undergoing renovation, the Main Exhibition of the International Print Triennial 2021 in Krakow is held at the Nowa Huta Cultural Centre (26 June – 31 July), presenting around 300 works shortlisted for the competition and created by almost 70 artists from 15 countries. “Artists whose works have been selected for the Main Exhibition express fleeting moment (Iku Hidaka), describe decaying regions (Vanessa Hall-Patch, Colin Lyons), share painful experiences (Gábor Koós), explore the relationship between humankind and nature (Edward Bateman, Lihie Gendler-Talmor, Michalina Wawrzyczek-Klasik, Hanna Oinonen), touch on past trauma (Justyna Sokołowska, Jolanta Rejs, Werner Schaarmann, Nikola Radosavljević), show possible configurations of tranhumanism (Grzegorz Frydryk, Paulina Łabuz-Tarara), draw our attention to the ambivalence of words (Zuzanna Dyrda), and strive to reclaim their personal space (Magdalena Hlawacz, Piotr Szurek),” explains Marta Raczek-Karcz. “Fears and anxieties are also found in works presented at the transgraphia 2.0 exhibition, with the artists showing deformed objects (Paweł Krzywdziak), landscapes (Marcin Pazera) and even human faces (Paweł Puzio). The exhibition transgraphia 2.0. Art Is a Space of Freedom at Unity Centre at 16 Lubomirskiego Street (27 June – 25 July) feature works by around 20 artists pushing the boundaries of printmaking, boldly stepping into the exhibition space and skilfully intertwining different forms of expression and classical and new media.

Works shortlisted for the main competition were selected by the five members of an international jury comprising experts in printmaking arts and including former winners of the competition. Works by three of the jurors are presented at the exhibition Careful Observers at the International Cultural Centre (9 June – 7 July). Sean Caulfield from Canada has spent over a decade exploring issues of the Anthropocene and the impact of humankind’s activities on the environment. Grzegorz Hańderek from the Katowice printmaking circles explores space, the way it is shaped and its relationship with humankind, and the evanescence of selected spatial forms. Diane Victor from South Africa creates works focusing on issues of post-colonialism and gender, studies social relations and puts marginalised and excluded people at the forefront of her artworks.

As well as the main competition, each triennial presents a lifetime achievement award and prizes for merit in Polish and international printmaking circles. The exhibition of works by the laureate of the Grand Prix d’Honneur MTG 2021 in Kraków Jan Pamuła. Continuum at the Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology (12 June – 11 September) showcases this pioneer of digital arts, exhibition curator, professor and former rector of the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków. His oeuvre “brings together the finest standards of classical abstraction with work in digital images, opening it to movement and flow”.

The International Print Triennial in Krakow has long included experimental printmaking artists from Canada; we will see a review of works by twenty artists at the exhibition ProTO-type(s) Experimental Contemporary Canadian Printmaking at the ASP Gallery at 18 Basztowa Street (9 July – 24 August).  There are also two exhibition at the International Print Triennial Society Centre at 29 Rynek Główny. Krzysztof Kula. Preventory (14 July – 3 August) is the latest project of the laureate of the Special Prize MTG 2018 in Kraków, in which the artist reaches for an abandoned prefab building found in the Beskidy Mountains. Finally, Prism Kraków – Conspectus (11–31 August) is an artistic statement of myriad traditions and languages by 43 printmakers representing 15 countries of the International Prism Association.

“Artists taking part in MTG 2021 experience the same anxieties as the rest of us, and they use visual arts to express them; they also aim to show changes happening in the world around us and encourage us to prevent them on a micro- and macro-scale,” stresses Marta Raczek-Karcz. (Dorota Dziunikowska)

The text published in the 2/2021 issue of the “Kraków Culture” quarterly.

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