‘Ben Uri is delighted to announce the second exhibition in its series on refugee and migrant artists, highlighting the Polish contribution in Britain over the last century. This focus is particularly apt as the community approaches its millionth citizen, the largest migrant group in Britain, and as Poland celebrates a century since it regained its independence as a nation state after 123 years.
The exhibition will tell aspects of the story of the Polish community in Britain, and Poland’s recent turbulent history, through the lens of art. It will trace the complex stories of Polish-born artists who fled successive regimes, were variously persecuted, imprisoned and interned, crossed continents – or, today, have made positive choices to come to Britain to study or to develop professionally.
The exhibition brings together a century of artworks and archival material by both celebrated and lesser-known Polish-born artists selected from the Ben Uri Collection and from Polish institutions, galleries and private collections. Paintings, posters, prints, drawings, cartoons, book illustrations, film and sculpture explore issues of identity and migration, whilst intersecting with formal art historical developments, ranging from expressionism to Pop Art.
Featured artists from the Ben Uri Collection include: Henry Glicenstein, Isaac Lichtenstein, Leopold Pilichowski and his wife, Lena Pillico, Adriana Świerszczek, Alfred Wolmark; cartoonist and caricaturists: George Him, Ralph Sallon and Mark Wayner, and Holocaust survivors: Roman Halter,Josef Herman, Shmuel Dresner and Alicia Melamed Adams (the last surviving student of Bruno Schulz). Herman is represented by two recent and important acquisitions which pay homage to Goya’s Black Paintings and memorialise the fighters for the Warsaw Ghetto.
Featured artists from other collections include: Janina Baranowska (who studied with David Bomberg at Borough Road), Marian Bohusz Szyszko, founder of the Polish School of Art in London; Henryk Gotlib; Stanisław Frenkiel; Zdzisław Ruszkowski; Feliks Topolski; Second World War pilot and Slade graduate, Jan Wieliczko; and Marek Żuławski; many highlighted in Douglas Hall’s important publication, Art in Exile, Polish Painters in Post-war Britain (2008).’ (PCI)