exhibition abroad

Polonia uncensored

Ignacy Czwartos

The exhibition presents fifteen oil paintings by Ignacy Czwartos. The first and largest group of paintings deals with figures and events from Polish history, forbidden by the communist regime between 1945 and 1989, known as the "blanks" in Polish history. These are mainly the stories of the Polish soldiers of the anti-communist underground, who fought against the Soviet totalitarianism between 1944 and 1963. The majority of them were brutally murdered by both the Soviet and the Polish communists.

The second thematic group consists of depictions of German war criminals responsible for the murder of thousands of Poles and Jews, who lived in post-war Germany and were never held accountable for their crimes.

Czwartos also refers to the present - to the criminal activities of Putin's Russia, which for many decades was treated as an equal political and economic partner by the leaders of democratic Europe.

These are issues that have once again been censored in today's Poland, which is governed by a liberal-left coalition. They are being erased from the public media and from the institutions of the state. The result has been the emergence of new-old 'blank spots' - areas of history that should not be spoken of aloud.

The fate of the project to present Ignacy Czwartos' paintings in Venice illustrates the process of this new censorship. The scenario of the exhibition of paintings by Ignacy Czwartos entitled: Exercises in the Tragedy of the World. Between Germany and Russia was selected in an open competition for presentation in the Polonia Pavilion as part of the 60th Venice Biennale. The project was approved by the Minister of Culture. However, after the October 2023 elections, the new Minister of Culture suspended the project. One of the reasons given was the promotion of a 'false understanding of Poland's past' and 'speaking from the position of a victim'. The new authorities in Poland are supposed to decide what is real and what is false Polish history, and they are also reluctant to talk about Polish victims.

Despite the suspension of the exhibition, Ignacy Czwartos' paintings made it to Venice. The Polonia Uncensored exhibition was created to defend freedom of speech and art. It is possible thanks to the support of the Polish diaspora - a real and living Polonia, represented by Mr Marek Buczkowski, who provided the space for the presentation of Ignacy Czwartos' paintings in Venice.


curator: Piotr Bernatowicz

photo: Ignacy Czwartos, Birkenau, oil on canvas, 2023-24, (detail)

Official partner and co-financed by:

Wenecja, Viale IV Novembre, 8
curatorr: Piotr Bernatowicz