Wilhelm Sasnal (b. 1972) is one of the most important artists of his generation. The Kunstverein Frankfurt and the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, in a joint project, dedicated a major solo exhibition to the Polish artist last year. Other key solo exhibitions have been held at the Douglas Hyde Gallery in Dublin (2006) and at the Berkeley Art Museum (2005). In November 2006 the artist received the prestigious Vincent Van Gogh Award. For his second exhibition at Hauser & Wirth, Sasnal is showing new paintings, drawings and a 16-mm film.
Throughout his work Wilhelm Sasnal combines references to political events, to art and cultural history with snippets of personal experience and everyday life. The breadth of his interests, once transferred into his work, eschews any sense of hierarchy.
Within his paintings the eclecticism of his subject matter is matched by a relentless stylistic experimentation. In a continuously evolving aesthetic he quotes art historical styles, everything from Tachism to Geometric Abstraction and Photorealism to Pop Art, bending each genre to his chosen subject and submitting it to his own new interpretation.
Sasnal’s fascination for the unexpected detail within our shared reality permeates his work. Selecting from what at times can be an almost overwhelming level of stimuli that makes up our daily existence, Sasnal often hones in to focus on an unexpected element. He absorbs information, on occasion borrows imagery from the Internet or elsewhere and views it from a novel angle. Yet somehow, through this highly subjective selection and means of expression, he creates an air of objectivity. There is a sense of detachment, which often leads to a feeling of unease.
His new exhibition centres on the figure of Elvis Presley. Music is one of Sasnal’s passions and it is a recurrent influence in his work; record sleeves, portraits of musicians and clips from music videos have all served as starting-points for his works.
The 16-mm film projection is based on found-footage from the late 1970s of Presley. The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll still retains some of his majesty but there is hesitation and vulnerability in his voice and posture that hint at his imminent demise. In motifs such as the falling star and the views of Graceland Sasnal captures the uncertainty of life in a damaged universe.
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About the artist
Polish painter and film-maker Wilhelm Sasnal is renowned for his incongruous and quietly unsettling portrayal of our collective surroundings and history. Drawing on found images from newspapers and magazines, the Internet, billboards or his personal surroundings, Sasnal’s paintings act as an archive…Learn more