Friday, April 13, 2007

Grzegorz Klaman: Fear and Trembling at the University Galleries, Florida Atlantic University

Grzegorz Klaman,
Fear and Trembling, 2007
installation view, mixed media, dimensions variable

A new environmental sculpture, Fear and Trembling, by visiting artist Grzegorz Klaman will be presented from April 20 through May 25, 2007 by the University Galleries and the Department of Visual Arts and Art History, School of the Arts, Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, Florida Atlantic University (FAU), Boca Raton. The artist will give a public lecture followed by a reception on Thursday, April 26 at 6 p.m. in the lecture hall next to the Schmidt Center Gallery. Klaman is visiting FAU as a Fulbright Scholar in the Department of Visual Arts and Art History from the Academy of Fine Arts, Gdansk, Poland where he has taught since 1984.

In Fear and Trembling, Grzegorz Klaman’s project for FAU, several kneeling human figures, cloaked in amorphous black robes, slowly and repeatedly hit their heads against the wall. Their behavior recalls states of trance or hysteria. A black, sticky substance has spilled down the wall from the large, horizontal windows located high above the floor and the figures, imposing its blackness on the space, the figures, and the viewer. The title, Fear and Trembling, is borrowed from the Danish Philosopher Soren Kierkegaard’s writing on religious devotion and the boundaries of individual sacrifice and internal conflict.

Grzegorz Klaman is one of Poland’s best-known contemporary artists perhaps best known for works that comment on the current politics in Poland through large-scale sculptural installations. He often employs or refers to existing objects rather than creating new forms. His recent POL END installation proposed a new flag for Poland by adding a black stripe to the country’s red and white flag. His work has been exhibited extensively throughout Europe in both group and solo exhibitions. In 1996 he won grants from both the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, Inc. and the Polish Ministry of Art and Culture.

Klaman’s project for FAU will be presented in the Schmidt Center Gallery Public Space, a 150 foot long by 22 foot high space that has hosted site specific and large-scale temporary works by Peggy Diggs (1999), Arturo Herrera (2000), Michael Zansky (2002) and most recently Allison Smith (2007).

Sebastian Cichocki, a young Polish art critic discusses Klaman’s work in this excerpt from a 2005 essay on the artist:
Klaman’s actions in the last few years locate him in the area between political interventions and site-specific land-art. The artist’s works in the public space, beginning with such works as “Tower and Gate” (1990, The Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art, Warsaw) never constituted an easy or neutral addition to the urban landscape. They did not decorate, they agitated. They did not ease tensions, they inflamed historical problems. They did not provide simple solutions, they forced people to adopt an unambiguous stance and thus to defend their own territory.

Grzegorz Klaman is following the trail of political and social illusion, tracking the mistakes, weaknesses and cracks in the pyramid of civilization’s self-satisfaction. His activities in the public space include within themselves an element of laboratory objectivity and arise from the rational drives of a “social artist.” Klaman, with full consciousness of the consequences of his decision, ruthlessly introduces a new artistic commandment: Kunst macht frei!, (Freedom through art), without obligations to the nation which takes delight in stigmatizing and marginalizing any behaviour which is alien to itself.

The University Galleries, FAU are open and free to the public Tuesday through Friday 1 – 4 pm, Saturday 1 – 5 pm, and closed Sunday and Monday. Tours can be scheduled by appointment. For further information on FAU’s University Galleries, visit

Exhibition programs in the University Galleries are made possible in part through support from the Florida Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, Florida Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts; The Palm Beach County Cultural Council; FAU Student Government through student activity fees; and individual contributors to the University Galleries.

Schmidt Center Gallery Public Space
April 26 – May 25, 2007

Public lecture by Grzegorz Klaman
Thursday, April 26, 6 pm followed by a reception

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