Polish-born artist Piotr Uklański is currently showing Midsummer Night’s Dream on the Caribbean island of St. Barthélemy, a Gagosian Gallery exhibition hosted by the Eden Rock Gallery. The opening reception took place over the holidays on December 29th, though the work has been on view since December 21st, and is up through January 31st. Art Observed was on site to visit the exhibition, which is positioned in likely the most iconic hotel on the island, the Eden Rock. St. Barths swells with international travelers from around the world through the New Year’s holiday and boasts likely the largest collection of mega-yachts on the planet during this time, as such, this pop up exhibition of Uklański works in this location was well timed and positioned by Gagosian Gallery. Uklański works in a variety of mediums, including sculpture, photography, performance, and film, directing and producing his first feature-length in 2006. Midsummer Night’s Dream showcases the artist’s new ‘pottery paintings,’ three-dimensional compositions of assorted ceramics, paying homage to various themes and artists of post-war Poland, as well as his grandmother. “My grandmother did hard labor in a ceramic factory in Communist Poland. This St Barths exhibition would be her Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Uklański states in the press release.
The ceramics with which Uklański ‘paints’ range several styles and designs, some simply mass-produced, others iconic Modernist works, some even signed by their artists. The geometric forms of the mosaics reference the Suprematist compositions of El Lissitzky and Malevich, extending to the overall installation design with direction from El Lissitzky’s “Raum Konstruktive Kunst (Room for Constructivist Art)” and “Abstraktes Kabinett” (1926).
Born in Warsaw in 1968, Uklański has been working with ceramics since 1999. His first commission covered three exterior walls of a department store in Warsaw, later creating a 30-meter long installation at the 2004 Kunsthalle Basel. The artist participated in the 2010 Whitney Biennial among several other major exhibitions, and his work has been both controversial and praised.
– S. Sveen