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Contemporary Art Gallery

555 Nelson Street
Vancouver, Canada
Open from Tuesday to
Sunday 12 pm → 6 pm

Admission always free
28 Jun 13until25 Aug 13

Monika Sosnowska

B.C. Binning Gallery

A free-standing, steel sculpture installed on a gallery floor. The entire sculpture is painted green and its shape resembles a bent, distorted staircase.

Monika Sosnowska, Untitled, 2012. Photo: SITE Photography

The Contemporary Art Gallery presents the first exhibition of work by Polish artist Monika Sosnowka in Canada. Best known for her ambitious architectural and sculptural installations that simultaneously embrace and resist the spaces they occupy, Sosnowska’s exhibition obliquely references her hometown of Warsaw and the economic shift that has occurred since the collapse of communism in 1989 to the present day.

Characteristically the artist’s sculptures recall familiar objects transformed in some way—dysfunctional stairways that join one floor to the other yet serving no purpose or large-scale metal cubes and girder structures twisted and wedged into existing gallery spaces. At the Contemporary Art Gallery we present a series of new painted steel sculptures, redolent of broken market vendor stands, referencing actual forms salvaged from Jarmark Europa Stadium, originally the site of a large market that sold everything from imitation Nike training shoes to pirated CDs and DVDs. The market opened with the onset of capitalism and ended last year when the stadium was destroyed to make way for a new national stadium that was built in time to host Euro 2012.

For the Polish Pavilion at the 2009 Venice Biennale, 1:1 comprised a metal frame structurally based on the elementary building principles common to much of the postwar tenement housing in Poland. Built to scale within the confines of the 1930 exhibition space, this massive frame was visually crushed to fit within the pavilion building. The black metal structure echoed the formal values of the existing architecture, while its twisted and bent form drew attention to the confines of the room creating unexpected configurations that challenged our perception of the space overall.

Even though Sosnowska’s work is often physically and conceptually tied to the condition of architecture it still retains its object-like quality. The Garden (2011) is a series of objects that exemplify this very nature: one sculpture built from a twist of metal pipes, another of bent aluminum cut and curled into a form resembling an industrial fan. In contrast to her larger-scale pieces these works, like the new forms comprising the exhibition at the Contemporary Art Gallery, collectively evoke a sense of architecture through absence and suggest that as with all social structures, it is subject to change over time. For example, a tilted cross extruding from a block of concrete appears to have been ripped from an existing structure, a larger whole; another, through its folds of metal mesh, recalls debris torn from a demolished building. The objects exist as autonomous wholes, but each appears to have been severed from an already existing structure, retaining a physical link to a larger formal system.

This exhibition is presented in collaboration with the Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Lethbridge.


Monika Sosnowska (b. 1972 in Ryki, Poland) currently lives and works in Warsaw. Sosnowska has participated in major exhibitions including The Power of Fantasy: Imagination at Work, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels (2011); ILLUMInations, Arsenale, Venice Biennale (2011); elles@centrepompidou, Centre Pompidou, Paris (2010); Monika Sosnowska/Andrea Zittel, Schaulager, Munchenstein, Basel (2008) and W Polsce; Czyli gdzie? / In Poland, That is Where?, Center for Contemporary Art Zamek Ujazdowski, Warsaw (2006). Her solo exhibitions include Fire Escape, Tamayo Museum, Mexico City (2011); Stairway, Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art, Israel (2010); Monika Sosnowska, Modern Institute, Glasgow (2008) and Projects 83: Monika Sosnowska, Museum of Modern Art, New York (2006). She was the recipient of the Bâloise Prize at Art Basel in 2003, as well as the Polityka’s Passport Award and shortlisted for the prestigious Hugo Boss Prize in 2012. Sosnowska is represented by Galerie Gisela Capitan, Cologne; Hauser and Wirth, Zurich, London and New York; Kurimanzutto, Mexico City; and The Modern Institute, Glasgow.