Forget the gallery, some of Warsaw’s biggest artistic statements are to be found on the streets and squares of the capital city…
Take a dilapidated house that’s stood empty for years and one acclaimed artist with a penchant for tin foil: presto, you have Praga’s ‘Tin Foil House’. Dating from 1870, the tenement had stood derelict for years, dragging a street down that had otherwise become a clarion call representative of the district’s resurgence. Aiming to reflect Praga’s bright future, whilst also highlighting the number of historic properties currently lying empty in the capital, Vienna-based artist Piotr Janowski spent a total of nine days last year wrapping the tenement with aluminum material alongside volunteers from a local youth group. The results are scintillating, with the foil reflecting even the most nuanced changes in the weather, thereby creating the sensation of a ‘living work of art’.
Appearing on the streets of Praga for the first time in 2010, Marek Sułek’s cheerful blue angels have, by many, been interpreted as a homage to the courtyard shrines so characteristic of the area. For Sułek, a multi-disciplinary artist specializing in sculpture, photography and painting, they’re something else: “They aren’t meant to be religious,” he says, “they’re simply the guardian angels I once dreamt about when I was five.” Ironically somewhat, they could do with their own guardian. Repeatedly targeted by vandals and hooligans, the 40-kilo fiberglass works have come up against paint attacks, theft and even decapitation. “I’m not happy when my works are vandalized,” shrugs Sułek, “but I understand that’s part of life.”
In a city high on gaudy gimmicks, Eran Shakine’s You & Me stands out as a work that’s both sophisticated and mature. Unveiled in 2015, the eight-meter-tall installation depicts a man and woman standing precariously on opposite ends of a see-saw-style, 20-meter beam that swings slowly in the breeze – taking eight hours to reach its maximum height at either end, the idea, says the Israeli artist, is to show the fluctuating relationship people have with their partner.