In 2006, Zachęta—Poland’s National Gallery of Art—presented Polish Painting of the 21st Century, a special exhibition dedicated to the country’s most acclaimed modern and contemporary artists. To set the stage for the eclectic show, Leon Tarasewicz covered the museum’s grand staircase in a kaleidoscope of colors.
Founded in 1860, the Zachęta Gallery is Warsaw’s oldest museum to show contemporary art. While it does possess a permanent collection, the gallery’s exhibition space is used entirely for temporary shows, culminating in an exciting and always-changing atmosphere. Tarasewicz—a contemporary Polish painter known for his abstract aesthetic composed of bold lines and graphic patterns—is an extreme example of an artist whose work totally transformed the space.
Using the gallery as a literal canvas, Tarasewicz splashed paint on its beautiful classical staircase. Though it may appear spontaneous and haphazard, the site-specific piece actually conveys a balanced and well thought-out composition. At the top of the staircase, three sets of stairs meet, connecting the museum’s exhibition halls and perfectly framing Pius Weloński’s stunning Gladiator statue. Before the sets of stairs were speckled with paint spatter, Tarasewicz painted each one a different base color (blue, red, or yellow) so that, when the stairs meet, the colors beautifully bleed together and cascade down the steps. By adding this modern, Pollock-esque twist to the monumental building, Tarasewicz captured the Zachęta Gallery’s avant-garde approach and contemporary focus with flying colors—literally!
All images via Sebastian Madejski.