Budapest: Magdalena Abakanowicz
April 25 - June 7
Celebratory remarks: Joanna Urbańska, director of the Polish Institute
Opening speech: Krisztina Jerger, art historian
The Polish Institute in Budapest cordially invites You to the vernissage of the exhibition PLATÁN20 “Magdalena Abakanowicz: Cage”.
In the spring of 1988, we were preparing for the exhibition of Magdalena Abakanowicz in every hall of the Műcsarnok / Kunsthalle Budapest. I was the one honoured with the task of being her helper, her ‘roustabout’. I had known her works, but I had never been in such intimate proximity to them. Likewise, I had never met Magdalena in person before. She was a radiant, resolute phenomenon. She knew what she wanted and how, she accommodated herself in the Műcsarnok with fascinating rapidity. She wanted to introduce every stage of her career, the entire span of her oeuvre to the Hungarian audience. She brought her legendary three-dimensional textile works, the so-called Abakans, the Red and the Black one. She herself said this about them: “I protest the classification of life and art with my three-dimensional woven forms. My forms slowly grow like natural formations. They are organic. They serve meditation like other formations of our world.” These enormous environments fundamentally re-evaluated our approach to textile. Then she took out her head- and armless sackcloth torsos, sitting them on pedestals or lining them up in packed rows, but mostly, emphasising their inert vulnerability, she placed them in a huddled crowd on the floor, giving rise to heartrending dramatic tension in the space. The motionless crowd gave us a sense of calm before the storm. War, death, fear, uncertainty. These faceless creatures expressed the experiences of Poland in the Second World War. Or perhaps much more, more universal? The fragility of mankind? Being caged? Probably. This is the piece exhibited now at the Platán Gallery, accompanied by some charcoal drawings. Charcoal drawings accompanied the entire oeuvre of Abakanowicz, sometimes as studies, sometimes forming a dynamic, expressive graphic series. She brought a number of these to the Műcsarnok, as proof of her brilliant drawing skills. The embryos had a separate hall. Sackcloth eggs, about 800 of them. Their quantity in itself was an astonishing feat. The air froze around them, they filled the exhibition hall so tightly it seemed about to explode. If this was not enough, five monumental sculptures made on site augmented the show. The massive logs of wood resembled sharp, metallic extraterrestrial weapons ready to attack and destroy. Their title was “Star Wars”. The exhibition was open for two months. It was visited by masses, and people were talking about the theretofore unknown Polish artist all over the capital. She put contemporary art on a pedestal, and her significance can be felt to this day. What she meant to me? Learning, first of all. To see the importance of the use of space and rhythm, the conscious, subtle shaping of context. And last, but not least, to experience the joy of great teamwork. I owe it all to Magdalena.
Krisztina Jerger, curator of the exhibition
The works presented at the exhibition are from the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts (Budapest) anf the Marta Magdalena Abakanowicz Kosmowskia and Jan Kosmowski Foundation (Warsaw).
Partner of the exhibition: Adam Mickiewicz Institute