The Big Picture The Big Picture

In a city largely bypassed by art, the Insider talks to Katarzyna Haber, curator of the widely and wildly celebrated Apteka Sztuki gallery.

WI: What’s the concept behind the gallery?
KH: The gallery was founded as a place without boundaries. Originally it was supposed to be dedicated to the work of people with disabilities but it turned out that a similar assumption was to produce new barriers. Hence we had the idea to exhibit both: art brut artists as well as professionals with academy degrees. 

And what’s the name about?
Well, there was a pharmacy located here before, so to retain the cultural continuity of the space we decided to keep ‘apteka’ in the name. 

What kind of artists do you look for?
Good ones, extraordinary ones that show originality. 

In light of the economic climate, are people actually buying art?
In Poland, in practice, the art market does not exist. We haven’t yet seen the middle class, the rich or the educated investing in art – and not just as a financial investment, but also as an expression of the need to surround themselves with a higher form of matter. 

Who is your favorite artist currently represented by Apteka Sztuki?
We have some great artists, both painters and photographers. Usually, we draw our attention to artists whose work borders the abstract. For us understatement and ambiguity are the most intriguing elements of artistic expression.

How has the Warsaw gallery scene changed in the last few years, if at all?
The Warsaw art scene is very unstable, something reflected by the lack of an art market. Lots of new galleries fail shortly after launching. Galleries that have a strictly commercial character tend to have a limited offer unfortunately restricted to terrible kitsch, while those that are more ambitious quite often present art that is too hermetic: art that is created using humor as its basis, but that is only understood by the artist himself and those closest to him. At Apteka Sztuki we’ve endeavored to find a middle ground, presenting art which is aesthetically appealing, but above all, art that people are not afraid to share an opinion on. 

Do you have a dream artist you’d like to represent?
Ah, we’re still seeking him or her.  

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