LISTE functions like those smaller fish which benefit from swimming next to the big ones – opined Swiss newspaper Tages Anzeiger in their article about 45th Basel Art Fair. After the visit at the posh and overwhelming main exhibition of Basel Art Fair, it’s nice to change the atmosphere and see the LISTE show just a short walk away. It takes place in a former brewery building now housing art workshops – a tall brick chimney is visible from afar. LISTE is dedicated to the so-called „young art” and the spirit of youth is palpable – 78 gallery stands jammed on six floors with a maze of several. Map is inevitable if you don’t want to miss something. All of this completes an image of a buzzing post-industrial building where art comes as natural as grilled sausages for lunch proudly presented on this year’s poster. But don’t let this fool you – it’s a prestigious art fair where only about one in four applicants are accepted. In consequence, LISTE presents only crème de la crème of fresh galleries from all over the world. It’s important to note that at LISTE art is not only exhibited but also purchased. Several rising stars of the art world established their positions thanks to LISTE – the international career of Wilhelm Sasnal started here with Foksal Gallery Foundation.
This year three Polish galleries from Warsaw were chosen to exhibit at LISTE. Two of them, Stereo and Dawid Radziszewski until 2013 were based in Poznań. Raster Gallery completed the trio. The gallery was established in 2001, and made their come back from the main exhibition to LISTE last year. This time they showed works by Michał Budny, Olaf Brzeski and Rafał Bujnowski. Entering a nice, bright stand (located on a covered terrace) one may trip over sculptures “Little Orphans” by Olaf Brzeski – average steel and wooden chairs with “rusted slabs of steel streaming off them”. Paintings by Michał Budny made of cheap materials such as paper and plastic foil corresponded ironically with a black construction foil on the other side of the wall. “We hung it there on purpose” said Magdalena Kobus from Raster. Black landscapes by Bujnowski (Lamp Black Hexagon and Nocturne) were at their best thanks to the brightness and spaciousness of the terrace. These two painting were like quotation marks which clipped together this small but well arranged booth. It was not only a presentation of works but a true exhibition with smart and witty commentary on art fair habits: table with chairs for potential buyers, seeking something unusual but trendy or something more classical – like an oil painting – which is always a good bet.
In the basement Stereo Gallery presented a solo show of Piotr Łakomy. The gallery’s catalogue points out that Łakomy’s main interests include communication effort, energy flow and isolation of the individual. All these themes are present in his works made especially for the fair. Plain, monochromatic paintings hung on walls reflected light from a thin stick located in the centre of a stand – simple yet original. Stereo broke the global tendency of showing plenty of small works (sometimes even too many). This approach struck gold. The idea to use the limited size of a booth to show fluid borders between sculpture, painting and installation was refreshing.
This year’s debutant – Dawid Radziszewski gallery – also opted for a solo show. This young, but already considered a must-see gallery, presented works by Łukasz Jastrubczak. The artist had won the 6th Views 2013 – Deutsche Bank Foundation Award for the most interesting young artist in the last two years in Poland. Those not familiar with works by Jastrubczak can be surprised with a wide range of artistic media in his oeuvre. The artist himself explained he doesn’t want to be understood immediately, even better when the meaning isn’t obvious yet still attracts our attention. A mix of strange objects – squeezed sleeping cowboy, cubist cardboard jugs or a video with a burning gold bar – refer to things we recall from iconic films and modern culture but filtered through the artist’s imagination.
There was another Polish presence at LISTE – Tymek Borowski’s works were presented by Aurelia Nowak in “The Gallerist Programme” project. The project was created by De Appel Art Centre in Amsterdam and The Fair Gallery to give curatorial programme students the ability to put to the test what they have learned in theory. Each day, one student presented one chosen artist in a small room – on 20 June it was Aurelia Nowak and Tymek Borowski. Their idea was to come back to the foundation of the art business – commissions. Buyer picks subject and size (the price is fixed) and the commission is realised by the artist in digital collage technique. Examples can be seen on the project’s website – post-internet images in stereotypical ‘East European style’. The artist and the curator try to represent Polish street smartness. As stated on the project’s website: “Poles try to do everything in Basel that the regulations do not prohibit, or rather do not provide for: They do not sell products, but services. They promote them using the infamous, yet effective tactics of small-town “marketing” and barnyard aesthetics of advertising dating back to the 90s. All of this strongly differs from the minimalist, subtle design and climate, which the art world is accustomed to.” This summary provides perhaps a perfect summary of Polish presence at LISTE – Poles are not yet big in the art market but certainly have a sense of humour and know how not to take themselves too seriously.
 “Wie buchtabiert man Art?” – 19.06.2014
Stereo gallery is not new to LISTE visitors – their debut was in 2011, just after two years of existence. Previously they showed artists associated with “Penerstwo” group such as Wojciech Bąkowski, Piotr Bosacki, Iza Tarasewicz or Konrad Smoleński.
Piotr Łakomy was born in 1983, studied at Fine Arts Institute in Zielona Gora and already participated in various exhibitions worldwide – some of the most recent: ‘Ce qui arretait ces dames’, Galerie Jeanrochdard, Paris (2014), ‘Bold Tendencies’, Multi Storey Car Park, Peckham, London (2013), IMO, Copenhagen (October 2014) and Mangiabarche Open Air Gallery, Calasetta, Italy.