For this fifth solo exhibition at Anton Kern Gallery, Polish artist Wilhelm Sasnal has selected a group of paintings and works on paper around the theme of Kodak, the now defunct film and camera manufacturer.
Some works make direct references to specific products, advertisements and to Kodak’s founder George Eastman, others create a “capture the moment” atmosphere addressing issues of picture-taking and picture-making.
It comes as no surprise that a painter and filmmaker like Wilhelm Sasnal would make Kodak the subject of his work. Since their invention, film and cameras have fascinated and challenged painters. Specifically, as Kodachrome film gained a reputation for its reproduction of “true colors”, the idea of reality, naturalism and truth in painting has been reformulated by artists in various ways. In addition, the Kodak pocket camera’s ability to capture a fleeting moment, along with the branding of the so called “Kodak moment” has liberated everyday photographers and created a universal culture of vernacular images that has the potential to turn ordinary events into private historical moments.
Sasnal’s position in regards to all of this is one of analytic observation and intuitive transformation. Known for his wide range of painterly methods, evident in these new paintings, Sasnal’s work deals with the underlying and subconscious presence of the history of an image, place or situation. As much as the artist is indebted to the physicality of film stock and cinematography, including its many visual effects, Sasnal creates every image as a singular event, both in his chosen motif and in the pictorial mode in which it is painted. Despite their subject’s universal nature, these works are delicate and precise, yet also singularly striking reflections on the nature of personal and collective memory. Sasnal’s paintings capture the fleeting moment twofold, once as a moment brought to a halt, quite like a photograph, and secondly as an unraveling of sub-conscious layers of meaning and history, quite beyond the capability of photography.
Sasnal’s work has most recently been featured in solo exhibitions at the Haus der Kunst, Munich (2012), Whitechapel Gallery, London (2011), K21, Düsseldorf (2009), and will be presented this fall in a major retrospective at the MSN Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw. His work has been included in group shows such as Image Counter Image, Haus der Kunst, Munich (2012), Painting Between The Lines, CAA, San Francisco (2011), The Reach of Realism, MOCA Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami (2009), the 55th Carnegie International, the Glasgow International (both 2008), Musée d’ Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, MoMA, New York (both 2007), the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, where he won the 2006 Vincent Van Gogh Biennial Award for Contemporary Art, the National Museum of Art in Osaka, the Museu Serralves in Porto (all 2006), and the Biennale de Sao Paulo (2004). Sasnal's most recent feature-length film "It Looks Pretty From A Distance" has been screened at New Horizons Film Festival Poland (2011), Rotterdam Film Festival, Munich Film Festival, Crossing Europe Film Festival, Jeonju International Film Festival Korea, Hong Kong International Film Festival, and New Directors New Films Festival, New York (all 2012).