The International Print Triennial 2018

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Kraków’s great festival of printmaking opens in early July. The international celebration lasts until autumn!

One of the longest-running and most important print competitions in the world, the International Print Triennial, has entered its sixth decade: originally ran as a biennial, 2016 marked fifty years since the first ever festival. In spite of Kraków being separated from the West by the Iron Curtain, the initiative instantly grabbed the attention of international artistic circles. In the communist era, regular meetings of printmakers from all over the globe were a great artistic celebration and an opportunity to break through political isolation and open a window onto the world. In the past Kraków welcomed acclaimed artists including Robert Rauschenberg and Joseph Kossuth and presented great works of pop-art, op-art, minimalism and conceptualism; the advent of the digital age and new media brought digital prints and interactive works.

The world is a different place in the 21st century, and printmaking has also undergone a revolution: artists reach for new technologies and boundaries between genres are becoming increasingly blurred. The organisers of the International Print Triennial 2018 (5 July – 10 October) declare, “By respecting the traditions set out by acclaimed printmakers and tireless organisers, led by Professor Witold Skulicz [founder of the event, president of the International Print Triennial and long-running director of the International Print Triennial Society Office who passed away in 2009 – ed.] we hope to usher in a new era of the Cracovian festival.” Following the competition rules, which state that printmaking is a process and reaches its full potential when presented as a set or cycle, each participant enters an individual print or a set of up to four works. Participants are also invited to attach short films visualising their creative process and submit texts, visual resources and any other supporting materials which served as their inspiration or important reference points. They will provide an invaluable addition to the exhibition, since the aim of International Print Triennial 2018 is to “reveal the complex nature of printmaking and making it accessible to wide audiences.”

Wealth of images
The international jury, led by the Slovenian artist Breda Škrjanec, selected 257 works by 115 authors from 30 countries for the competition exhibition. The second stage of the contest reveals winners of prizes including the Grand Prix, the European Print Award, the Professor Witold Skulicz Award and trophies funded by associated institutions from all over Poland. The jury reveal their decision at the opening of the Main Exhibition 2018 at Bunkier Sztuki, held under the banner Immersed in Images (from 7 July). As well as works qualified for the competition, we will see supporting materials supplied by the artists. The exhibition covers a broad spectrum of contemporary printmaking and takes an all-encompassing look at art and the world around us. It’s worth noting the numerous paraphrases and derivations comprising contemporary visual culture. The extensive review of the latest and most fascinating trends in graphic arts around the globe also opens the question as to the real boundaries of print as a medium; about the relationship between printmaking and sculpture, installation, painting and video art.

Freedom of thought
The second exhibition, held under the banner of transgrafia, is the result of a competition for artists from all over Poland. It showcases the latest trends in printmaking, intertwining different media and techniques: graphic design, multimedia, animation, installations, mapping, comics, murals, tattoo art and virtual reality created for video games. The expansive space of the former tobacco factory at Dolnych Młynów Street (from 8 July) presents a review of artworks, breaking down barriers of classical graphic arts and changing the rules of the game. “Diversity, freedom of thought and shifting the boundaries of perception are all terms we use when talking about transgrafia,” according to the organisers. They add, “The exhibition presents works by 35 artists, revealing the incredible creative potential of printmaking as an artistic medium. It showcases the wealth and diversity of graphic arts and how they are able to communicate and transmit messages by being incredibly open to experimentation.” The works were assessed for their artistic merit and implementation and how they interact with the present-day reality; the final stage of the competition will be decided after the opening of the exhibition. The winner receives an invitation to host an individual exhibition at the International Print Triennial Society Gallery at the Main Market Square.

Absolute space
The winner of the Grand Prix also hosts an individual exhibition at the next Triennial. In 2015, the American artist Deborah Cornell was awarded both the Grand Prix and the Grand Prix d’honneur for lifetime achievement. The jury was highly impressed by her video installation titled Reflecting Place. The International Cultural Centre hosts the exhibition Deborah Cornell. Eclipse and Deluge. Accidental Powers and Oblique Contingencies (from 6 July), serving as a bridge between the Main Exhibition and transgrafia. After years of honing classic techniques, in recent decades Cornell has been focusing on digital media. Her works span the boundaries of two-dimensional, static images to create installations which take on characteristics of an “absolute graphical space”. The artist invites her audience to immerse themselves in a world of constantly shifting images; the sound accompanying the screening enhances the sense of being fully absorbed in the flow.

“I am an explorer, and sometimes the final format of my artwork takes me by surprise. I can’t always give these forms a definitive name. I search for the best voice to express my ideas,” said Cornell in an interview with Marta Raczek-Karcz, president of the International Print Triennial Society ( She added, “Even when printmaking is combined with projections and sound, the power and message of the artwork is defined by its graphical qualities.” The Gallery at the International Cultural Centre presents the artist’s latest works created especially for the exhibition. The encounter with the extraordinary world of her imagination will be a perfect opportunity to reflect upon the condition and identity of contemporary graphic arts.

The International Print Triennial Society also presents the exhibition The Boston Printmakers of North America: 8 Members (from 6 July), presenting the latest works by members of the seventy-year-old association, whose members include Deborah Cornell.


There will be more instalments of the main programme after the end of the summer holidays: opening on 5 September, the Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology presents Flicker – a major exhibition of prints from South Korea based on the collection of the International Print Triennial Society assembled over the last thirty years. The International Print Triennial Society Gallery recalls the Varsovian artist Władysław Winiecki – Laureate of the MBG 1978 – the second Polish artist (after Roman Opałka) to have been awarded the main prize (from 24 October). In September, the Pryzmat Gallery opens the exhibition Enter / Exit 3 accompanying the Triennial and organised by the Kraków Branch of the Association of Polish Artists and Designers which has supported the event for many years. We will see works by Cracovian artists including Agnieszka Łakoma, Ewelina Małysa, Anna Sadowska, Leonard Pędziałek and Jacek Zaborski (from 8 September).

From classics to experiments spanning the boundaries of graphic arts, let’s immerse ourselves in images! (Dorota Dziunikowska, “Karnet” monthly)



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