Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sculptor Krzysztof M. Bednarski molds Karl Marx into an iconic pink fountain

"K.M. Column Fountain" by Krzysztof M. Bednarski Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)
After all those years of Karl Marx being hammered into his head by Polish Communist schools and state organs, artist Krzysztof M. Bednarski, born in Krakow, is fighting back.

The 58-year-old, Rome and Warsaw-based sculptor cannot get Karl Marx out of his head or inventory of works.

"K.M. Column Fountain" by Krzysztof M. Bednarski at Art on Lake (2011) Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)
As early as 1978 (his diploma project at the Academy of Fine Arts Warsaw), Bednarski had some kind of love-hate but intimate relationship with Karl.

Then, under Professor Jerzy Jarnuszkiewicz´s guidance, Bednarski took Socialist Realism into a new realm, plastic and multi-colored, making larger than life Karl Marx molded heads at the academy, state supported satire.

His project title: “Total Portrait of Karl Marx.”

Detail, "K.M. Column Fountain" by Krzysztof M. Bednarski Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)
Seven such 78 cm molded heads of Karl Marx are stacked on top of each other, five meters tall at Art on Lake´s contemporary sculpture show that opened 22 May and closes 4 September in central Budapest.

There´s a submerged pump that appears not functioning allegedly spilling water over Karl Marx´s many heads, at least one badly distorted.

Bednarski calls the work specifically built for Art on Lake, “K.M. Column Fountain.”

"K.M. Column Fountain" by Krzysztof M. Bednarski Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)
About two years ago, curators--Krisztina Jerger, Dr. Alexander Tolnay and Peter Fitz--asked the multi-dimensional sculptor, action artist, creator of installations and poster designer to install a special KM for Art on Lake´s marine setting, City Park Lake at Heroes´Square.

Art on Lake, organized by the Museum of Fine Arts Budapest, features works by 25 European Union contemporary sculptors (24 are living).

One of the living artist-antagonists is Krzysztof M. Bednarski.

This time, KM heads turn pink.

In the past, Bednarski has gone with forest green heads with orange noses (my favorite) or red and rusty-colored heads.

In 1989, Bednarski took another look at KM´s role in his career.

It was the time of great political convulsions within the Soviet Empire, which was imploding.

He reprised the casted KM heads in La Rivoluzione siamo Noi (1989), The Collected Works of Karl Marx (1988), The Xram Lrak Burial Mound (1988) and Finite Column (1991).

In a recent online Artist´s Statement, Bednarski described his first KM 1978 diploma work, "The Total Portrait of Karl Marx":  

“The piece mocked a figure that was surrounded by an official cult and proved one of the most significant works of the political contestation movement that preceded the social upheavals of August 1980.” 

Art on Lake curators in their catalogue for the show released this month said: “Bednarski transforms this regionally once familiar feature into an ironic totem pole that simultaneously desecrates the monumentomania of the former socialist bloc.”

These Hungarian curators and art historians are contemporaries of Bednarski, experiencing Karl Marx and Lenin statues throughout most their lives.

(Hungary, in a controversial move after the 1989 political change, decided to install most of the Socialist Realism statues of the communist period together in “Memento Park” in Budapest, now a paid historical tourist attraction.)

Detail, "K.M. Column Fountain" by Krzysztof M. Bednarski Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)
There´s much more to Bednarski than this pink fountain (I was there a few times to see the work in the flesh and the fountain did not work.).

In Polish, the artist´s official website reveals the wide range of his conceptual art.

Images are language.

Rock on and practice peace and love.
Stefan, the ArtTraveler ™

ArtTraveler notes:

After living at the Hotel Queen Mary in Budapest (3.5 stars), I heartily recommend it: old on the outside, otherwise totally modern (23 rooms); 

The owner and staff are affable and speak English and German. Tel: 0036-1-413-3510;;

Visit Andalusia for a walking holiday or week-long sculpture or mosaics workshop. 

"Spanish Life Stilled," photograph by Stefan van Drake (2009)

You may reach me at or by calling (34) 915 067 703 or from the UK at BT landline rates, 0844 774 8349.  

Animal cruelty protest ends as village defines policy

Mayor Don Jorge Martin told more than 150 expat residents of Canillas de Albaida during a village-initiated open forum for expats held today (26 August) that every two weeks a "dog catcher" (official animal control from Malaga) will survey streets not for cats but only for dogs that are sick. He denied any policy to simply sweep pets off the street. He did admit one cat died but it said it was sick. The mayor did not answer a repeated question: What happened to the animals you have already taken?

Let´s give peace a chance. The protest is ended. Thank you to those who took the time to e-mail your concerns to our mayor. I am confident you made a positive and signifcant impact.

--Stefan van Drake


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