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"This Is Not a Flag" | Mysia 3

Updated: Dec 23, 2021

In the ‘Commies’ times, the buildings on Mysia Street housed the Publications and Press Control Office, commonly known as "Censorship". Recognizing the disturbing analogy of the contemporary political situation and that of the times that would seem to have passed forever, Osiowski carefully examines the surrounding reality and invites us to a discussion.

Where most citizens see a flag, the painter sees crimson, vermillion and scarlet, titanium white, zinc white, transparency or opalescence. For an artist, two horizontal stripes of colour can lead to a surprisingly wide range of painting experiments that are evidently still worth exploring after three decades. Marcin Osiowski created the first sketches in mid-1980s. He further explored them on the eve of the fall of Communism in Poland, and the newest works of the series have just recently dried.

These paintings, because they are paintings, not flags, tell a story both of the artist’s life and the evolution of his painting style, and about the changing fates of contemporary Polish history and the moral values followed by Polish society. These colours, which are also national symbols, result from a social consensus – in any case, they should - as do “the national virtues.”

Osiowski’s flags, which were painted right before the fall of Communism and in the context of today’s authoritarian turn in Poland, stress the seemingly imperceptible fluidity and flexibility of signifiers, which can be kneaded and moulded depending on one’s subjective worldview, preferred models of power and so on.

Katarzyna Piskorz is a curator of the exhibition This is not a flag; her text is available HERE

photos by Adam Gut

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