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First major UK exhibition of Polish artist Wilhelm Sasnal at the Whitechapel Gallery
Wilhelm Sasnal, Kacper, 2009. Oil on canvas, 75 x 90 cm © Wilhelm Sasnal. Courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London.

LONDON.- The Whitechapel Gallery presents the first major UK exhibition of Polish artist Wilhelm Sasnal, a leading figure in contemporary painting. Wilhelm Sasnal paints images from everyday life and the mass media. His paintings range from portraits of his family and friends to icons of popular culture such as Roy Orbison, from a news image of a young girl rescued from the wreckage of the recent Tsunami in Japan to troubling chapters in the history of Poland including World War II and the Holocaust.

Stylistically, Sasnal’s work fuses Romanticism with Realism, and Pop with Abstraction, demonstrating his knowledge of and passion for the history of painting and painting as a medium. He takes images from the multitude available in comic books, newspapers, television and online that might otherwise be overlooked to create a unique and highly personalised record of contemporary life.

The Whitechapel Gallery exhibition offers a survey of Sasnal’s work made over the last decade, from 1999 until 2011, with more than 60 paintings and a selection of his films displayed in the galleries.

The exhibition is divided into three sections and opens with Sasnal’s recent work, made between 2005 to 2011, that draws from images in the mass media and his world travels. The second section returns to a key moment in his early career, bringing together works that explore Poland’s role in World War II, including comic book style interpretations of Maus, Art Spiegelmann's cartoon narration of the Holocaust. The third section spans 2001 to 2005, with a selection of works that focus on the use of film and photography in his painting, as well as Sasnal’s continued interest in life, past and present, in Poland.

Sasnal’s recent feature-length films and a selection of shorts will be screened as part of the accompanying programme in the Zilkha Auditorium.

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