Buying Art Means Investing in Oneself, in One’s Own Sensibility Warsaw Art Fair 2022

The Warsaw Art Fair is a recurring cultural event that aims to promote modern and contemporary art. Kama Zboralska, art market expert, curator, author and commentator on contemporary art, serves as the programme director. Her annual rankings of the most prominent Polish artists ‘Kompas Sztuki’ and ‘Kompas Młodej Sztuki’ have been published in the daily newspaper Rzeczpospolita since 2017. She also gives lectures on the art market at the Media Art Faculty of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. In our conversation, she tells us what to expect from the 19th edition of the Warsaw Art Fair, and why it is worth attending.

Kama Zboralska, photo by Cz.Czaplinski
Kama Zboralska, photo by Cz.Czaplinski

Julia Gorlewska: Let’s talk about the origins of the concept behind the Warsaw Art Fair (WAF). How and why did you come up with the idea for this type of event?

Kama Zboralska: Warsaw Art Fair has been organized from its beginning by Piotr Lengiewicz, director of the Rempex Auction House. I joined as a thematic advisor during the 10th edition in 2012. At that time, the Polish art market was still in its infancy, and thus, the idea for an art fair was born. Due to the historical context and conditions following the 1989 political transformation, the fair’s launch was very late, especially in comparison with Western countries. As such, the first auction houses and private galleries were established only in the 1990s. Initially, the fair took place in Kraków and after a couple of years, it was relocated to Warsaw. At that time, it took place in the hotel Europejski, then Kubicki Arcades in the Royal Castle, which eventually was no longer able to accommodate us. A growing interest of exhibitors and potential clients resulted in a decision to organize the art fair at the International Conference and Fair Center EXPO XXI on Ignacy Prądzyński 12/14 Street in Warsaw. The new location offers a much more comfortable experience for our guests.

JG: Warsaw Art Fair is an overview of the art market from the 19th century to the present day, as well as a summary of contemporary art trends. What can we expect from the show as viewers? Could it be one’s first step towards building a collection?

KZ: The 19th edition of Warsaw Art Fair is attended chiefly by contemporary art galleries, and so it will showcase a vast spectrum of work created after 1945 by, for instance, Stefan Gierowski, Jan Dobkowski, Jan Berdyszak and Stanisław Dróżdż. Some younger artists include Dawid Czycz, Wiktor Gałka, Łukasz Patelczyk and Tomasz Górnicki. Unfortunately, we are still lacking in education about contemporary and current art. In order to learn about it and understand it even at the most fundamental level, we need to prioritize our consistent viewing of contemporary art, time and time again – regularly visiting galleries, museums and of course art fairs. We tend to be more familiar with art from the past; until quite recently, a lot of people avoided buying contemporary pieces because they were afraid of possibly investing in pretentious flops. However, contemporary art is incredibly diverse and utilizes many different mediums. Contrary to popular belief, everyone can find something aesthetically pleasing. It’s also worth noting that the Warsaw Art Fair is the only event that allows one to view/purchase artworks in a variety of techniques, styles and periods (including paintings by Stanisław Wyspiański, Alfons Karpiński and Wojciech Wiess).

Wojciech Weisse, Rzeszowski Dom Sztuki Archive
Wojciech Weisse, Rzeszowski Dom Sztuki Archive
Ryszard Winiarski, Alphabet, Rytel Collection
Ryszard Winiarski, ‘Alphabet of the Rytel Collection’
Stanisław Wyspiański, Rzeszowski Dom Sztuki Archive
Stanisław Wyspiański, Rzeszowski Dom Sztuki Archive

JG: Where should we seek some support then? Where should we start?

KZ: A great place to start would certainly be the rankings of Polish artists, which I’ve been compiling since 2017 – ‘Kompas Sztuki’ and ‘Kompas Młodej Sztuki.’ About seventy public and private art galleries are voting in the poll. This list of galleries could also provide some direction; the place should represent a high artistic level, that’s what matters most. Of course, Warsaw Art Fair is also a great event to start with because it showcases the most current and sought after pieces on the market. If we think of buying art in terms of an investment, then we should bear in mind that it’s a long-term type of investment. There is no guarantee when or if we will be able to make any returns.

First and foremost, buying art means investing in oneself, in one’s own sensibility.

If we splurge on a good quality piece by an accomplished artist, without overpaying, then there’s a good chance that we won’t make any losses in the future.

JG: Is there anything new that we could see this year? Any further improvements and developments that your regular attendees can anticipate and expect?

KZ: Definitively an even higher level of displayed objects; we’re accepting submissions based on the merit of specific works on offer. We also take great care to facilitate an appealing arrangement of stands, so they can reflect the gallery’s vision and strengths. Last year, over 9.000 people visited our art fair as interest in art is continually growing every year.

Stefan Krygier, Piękna Gallery
Stefan Krygier, Piękna Gallery

JG: Could you please tell us more about the accompanying events of the 19th edition of WAF? Who is your target audience?

KZ: Our mission is education. For example, this year we have prepared a series of lectures and meetings with artists. Experts will deliver talks on the forces governing the art market. Our guest list also includes some extraordinary collectors: Marek Roefler, owner of the museum Villa le Fleur in Konstancin, as well as Robert and Mariusz Rytel. Selected pieces from the latter’s collection will be displayed during the fair. As far as current art is concerned, Paweł Witkowski, a curator, will hold conversations with artists such as Agata Kus, Julia Curyło, Martyna Czech and Agata Zbylut, who all participated in an exhibition entitled ‘Woman Art Power’ in the Contemporary Art Center Elektrownia in Radom. We also prepared some events for the artists themselves, not just our visitors, such as a panel on the transitional period of graduating from art academies and their position following their graduation. Participants of the debate include for instance prof. Andrzej Bendarczyk, the Rector of the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków, Tomasz Górnicki, a sculptor, and Jan Sętowski, owner of the Sętowski/Gawron Gallery. The art fair is also an excellent opportunity for networking since it’s attended by museum experts, curators, critics, as well as directors of public and private galleries.

read also Hotel Warsaw. Press materials.

Hotel Warszawa Art Fair. Interview with Amanda Likus

Dobromiła Błaszczyk Sep 07, 2022

Between the 9th and 11th of September, in a historic building in the heart of Warsaw, currently occupied by Hotel Warszawa, an art fair was held. 20 galleries in 20 rooms, spread across one floor of this luxurious hotel, exhibited the works of cooperating artists. On the occasion, Contemporary Lynx had the pleasure to talk to Amanda Likus about the fair, art patronage, and the role of art and culture in the approach to brand development.

JG: Events, which have been organized in the last couple of years, clearly indicate an interest in female artists. This October, Grażyna Kulczyk sold a vast majority of her collection through Desa Unicum in order to focus to on feminist art. Meanwhile, ‘Woman Art Power’ presenting works by several leading female artists, is one of the exhibitions organized as part of the art fair. What messages and goals for art collecting would you like the art fair visitors to take away from the event? What directions are advisable for those wanting to expand their collections?

KZ: I steer clear of any division between a male and female art. Art is either good or bad. And when it comes to feminism, well… women certainly need to fight for their position in the modern world, and not just in the arts. It wasn’t so long ago when women weren’t allowed to attend any universities, including art academies. ‘Woman Art Power’ exhibition features pieces by the very best young female artists. Not only their subjects, but also motifs and language, which they are using, are close to my heart. They reflect the current trends in the art world.

Helena Stiasny, Woman Art Power
Helena Stiasny, Woman Art Power

JG: The second exhibition ‘Alfabet Kolekcji Rytel’ (‘Alphabet of the Rytel Collection’) showcases the classics of modernity, such as Magdalena Abakanowicz, Roman Opałka, Leon Tarasewicz and Ryszard Winiarski. These are high-profile names. The textiles of Abakanowicz will be featured in the exhibition at Tate London from the 17th of November. What is the purpose of the ‘curated’ expansion of the art fair’s formula? Will the pieces on display at these exhibitions be available for sale?

KZ: As I mentioned, the exhibition presents selected pieces from the art collection of Robert and Mariusz Rytel, which won’t be for sale. The show centers around the achievements of acclaimed artists, while the collection owners will share some with attendees on how to build collections. Traditionally, the art fair programme also includes exhibitions of other artists, such as Nowosielski, Fangor, Witkacy, Malczewski and Kantor, which are exciting opportunities for visitors to view and engage with their work. 

The Polish art market is still evolving. Investors have recently recognized art as one of the elements of wallet diversification

JG: During the art fair, you will also discuss new phenomena in the arts, such as NFTs. I’m curious what you think of it. In your opinion, is it the future of the art market, the new visual form of the 21st century or a complete contradiction thereof? What are its advantages and disadvantages? What should we be cautious of?

KZ: It’s still a controversial subject. There are many different opinions. Some people view NFTs as a trend, a passing fancy, a buzzword that will soon be replaced by a brand-new hot thing. Others are of the opinion that it’s an ingenious form of visual expression of the 21st century and compare it to the past trajectory of new media art. Time will tell who is right. The panel on this subject will be hosted by Rafał Kamecki, a founder and director of, arguably the best portal covering the art market. Also, please note that the first auction of the NFT token was organized by during the 18th edition of WAF. The digital 3D model of a sculpture ‘Fortune’ by Tomasz Górnicki was sold for 300,000 PLN.

Tadeusz Łodziana, Dyląg
Tadeusz Łodziana, Dyląg

JG: You have written guides on art galleries that recommend various artists– which we should pay the most attention to? What is your own perspective on the state-of-the-art market in Poland? What is your advice to a beginner collector? Where should they start? Where should they buy art? What auction houses should they visit?

KZ: The Polish art market is still evolving. Investors have recently recognized art as one of the elements of wallet diversification. The pandemic, staggering inflation and the war in Ukraine have all contributed to the fact that huge sums of money were being spent on art auctions, one price record following another. The question is how do we navigate this difficult terrain? My last book ‘Kierunek Sztuka’ might offer some guidance; it’s a summary of all editions of artists’ rankings I’ve provided (21 in total). Clearly, galleries play a significant role in raising an artist’s profile. Achieving commercial success takes time, such as participating in important exhibitions, prestigious fairs, selling the pieces to private collectors and public institutions. When it comes to the places selling art, I recommend good art galleries (see for instance: If you’re interested in auctions, then the biggest auction houses are Desa Unicum, Polsswis Art, Rempex and Agra Art. You should set a maximum amount of money you are able to spend during an auction. Sometimes, we can get carried away by our emotions in such heightened situations. The most important thing is just to take the first step and buy a piece of art. If we have yet to define our concept or art style to which we are most drawn, then it is best to start with works on paper. They also happen to be more affordable. Research shows that our preferences change along with acquired knowledge and experience. Initially, we might enjoy realistic depictions of recognizable things from our world and surroundings. Over time, we might evolve and start appreciating abstract pieces and contemporary art, such as installations and videos. Often, the first step marks the beginning of a new passion.

Katarzyna Kukuła, Woman Art Power
Katarzyna Kukuła, Woman Art Power

JG: This year, the Warsaw Art Fair holds its 19th edition. Which previous edition of the show is particularly etched in your memory?

KZ: Every edition poses new challenges. I was the most excited when we presented the pieces by Magdalena Abakanowicz in the Kubicki Arcades a few years back. Abakanowicz’s work entitled ‘Mutants,’ sculptures from coarse burlap, are reminiscent of animals. In that situation, it was also all about the security of these objects, which were put on public display for the first time. The audience was walking in-between them, taking pictures and interacting with the work. It was awesome, because that’s what the artist wanted – for her pieces to live among the people. Many of our guests had the tremendous opportunity to view the sculptures of this eminent artist for the very first time.

JG: The programme of 19th WTS is incredibly rich and diverse. Are there any events that you would recommend in particular?

KZ: It’s difficult to name them all – accompanying exhibitions, of course. Lectures and discussion panels depend on a given person’s interests. The full list of events is available on our website:

About The Author


Warsaw-based art writer and art advisor with an interest in Post-War & Contemporary Art and the art market. Author of numerous texts on art and interviews with Polish and foreign artists, curators, and art critics. Graduated from Art History at Humboldt University in Berlin. Currently works at DESA Unicum Auction House in Warsaw, where she coordinates projects related to Polish contemporary art.

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