If I were the moon,

I would quit the booze,

my light would be split

among the sober and the lit:

to the drunks I’d be bright,

to the sober — not quite.

Władysław Broniew­ski, 1955



This is the story of the intimate con­nec­tions between con­tem­porary art and vodka. Among the myriad func­tions alcohol has played and con­tinues to play in the lives of artists, what interests us most is that moment of the loss of control—over the body, life, art—which may lead to destruc­tion but also sur­prisin­gly bold, ear­nest and even blasphemous gestures. The works we have gathered from the past half-​century document artists’ per­sonal strug­gles with addic­tion, forged into material artefacts (Krzysz­tof M. Bed­nar­ski, Oskar Dawicki, Władysław Hasior, Bartek Materka). There are also documen­tary and sym­bolic recor­dings of states of ecstatic loss of balance (Olaf Brzeski, Michał Budny, Edward Dwur­nik, Jerzy Lewczyński, Marek Sob­czyk), traces and afterimages of encoun­ters in Kraków bars (Marcin Maciejow­ski, Wil­helm Sasnal), and visual fan­tasies inspired by the alcoholic universe (Rafał Buj­now­ski, Mariola Przyjem­ska, Magisters). Finally, there are works created “under the influence” (Prze­mek Matecki and Paweł Althamer). From the street side the exhibition is opened by an instal­lation prepared especially for this occasion by Dominika Olszowy, the dream­like Peep­show. The leit­motiv and historical con­text for the show is a photo exhibition by Jerzy Lewczyński com­mis­sioned in the 1980s by the Katowice Province Health Depart­ment in con­junc­tion with the Silesia Chap­ter of the Association of Polish Artistic Photographers (ZPAF).


The work that binds the exhibition into a whole is an operatic piece com­posed by Joanna Halszka Sokołowska with a libretto alluding to the titular epigram by Władysław Broniew­ski, a poet whose post-​war career was dramatically linked with alcohol, and who returns to our gal­lery after an exhibition and disc devoted to him in 2005.


The post-​Romantic figure of the artist/drunk is fading into the past, but leaves behind a land­scape of hal­lucination, degradation and disil­lusion­ment. The exhibition thus also serves as a sort of farewell to the blur­red recol­lec­tions of inspired inebriation woven into the daily rhythm of artistic life.


The exhibition is accom­panied by the publication of Bot­tleneck: The Avant-​Garde and Alcohol (Szyja. Awan­garda i alkohol), a col­lec­tion of interviews (in Polish) by Łukasz Gor­czyca and Łukasz Ron­duda with 14 artists from several generations sharing the alcoholic back­stage of artistic life from the 1960s to the present.




Edward Dwurnik, My Head, 1984, oil on canvas, 146 x 78 cm






Edward Dwurnik, Drunkards, 1985, oil on canvas, 140 x 201 cm



warsaw gal­lery week­end 2018

If I Were the Moon



Krzysztof M. Bednarski, Olaf Brzeski, Michał Budny, Rafał Bujnowski, Oskar Dawicki, Edward Dwurnik, Władysław Hasior, Jerzy Lewczyński, Marcin Maciejowski, Magisters, Przemek Matecki i Paweł Althamer, Bartek Materka, Dominika Olszowy, Mariola Przyjemska, Wilhelm Sasnal, Marek Sobczyk, Joanna Halszka Sokołowska