Exhibition — Mar 30 until Sep 1, 2024

The Stedelijk Museum presents the exhibition Painting as Prop by Wilhelm Sasnal (1972, Tarnów, Poland) in the prestigious IMC Hall of Honor. The show features twenty-five paintings, some of which played a role as props in Sasnal’s recent film project The Assistant, blurring the boundaries between the distinctive spheres of art and film, clashing with the contemporary world.

Wilhelm Sasnal
Wilhelm Sasnal, 'Untitled' (After 'Dance' by Henri Matisse), 2018, oil and spray paint on canvas, 260 × 340 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Foksal Gallery Foundation. Photo: Marek Gardulski.

Wilhelm Sasnal’s film The Assistant (2024) is based on Swiss writer Robert Walser’s eponymous novel (1907), in which Joseph Marti, assistant to the engineer-inventor Carl Tobler, becomes entangled in his bizarre world. For this film, Sasnal created reinterpretations of modern and avant-garde masterpieces and used them as film props. The artist showcases these works in Painting as Prop alongside other paintings that take cues from archival images and banal snapshots. In both the film and the show, the artist points towards the similarities between the world of Walser’s poignant early-twentieth-century picaresque novel and our current times. 

Painting as Prop is specially conceived for the Stedelijk's IMC Hall of Honor, located in the heart of the museum's famed displays of avant-garde art collection. The same institutions that once shaped the Western European canon of modern art, often at the expense of other people and their cultures, are now beginning to question it. In Sasnal’s exhibition, outtakes from this canon are juxtaposed with depictions of everyday objects and situations, merging human and non-human protagonists.   

Themes of human adaptability and disposability in capitalist economy, drawn from Walser's novel, as well as entanglement of modern art in dramatic turns of history of the 20th century, resonate throughout the exhibition. The artist’s lens captures the madness of modern life, prompting viewers to reflect on the changing landscape of politics and societal norms. Painting as Prop serves not only as a window into Sasnal's film project but also as a poignant exploration of our times. 

Wilhelm Sasnal, 'Pigsty', 2011, oil on canvas
Wilhelm Sasnal, 'Pigsty', 2011, oil on canvas, 200 × 440 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Foksal Gallery Foundation. Photo: Marek Gardulski.

Wilhelm Sasnal — Painting as Prop

Mar 30 until Sep 1, 2024

Book ticket

The exhibition Wilhelm Sasnal — Painting as Prop is curated by Adam Szymczyk, curator-at-large. The exhibition is generously supported by the Mondriaan Fund.

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