Michał Slezkin, Jacek Świdziński – PEACE

The exhibition offers an intriguing combination of two projects: the game “The State” by Michał Slezkin and the recently acclaimed comic book by Jacek Świdziński entitled “The Festival”.

Suggested by the curator Agata Smalcerz, the title of the joint exhibition of works by Michał Slezkin and Jacek Świdziński alludes to a concept often abused in post-war Poland, a state like any other in the Eastern Bloc,  dependent on the USSR. The period known as the 'Cold War' (1947-1991) was a time of global tensions, ideological, political, economic and military rivalry between the USSR and the Eastern Bloc on one side and the democratic, 'non-communist' Western world on the other.

Agata Smalcerz:

“The State” is a game that unfolds on many levels and in different temporal contexts. It was first launched in 1947 by the 15-year-old Bohdan Slezkin, the artist’s father, and a group of his classmates from Stefan Batory High School in Warsaw, including Jerzy Siewierski, Leszek Szymański and Tadeusz Strumff, who later founded and edited the magazine Współczesność, and continued in the 1970s with his son Michał and Jerzy Siewierski and his son Wojciech. The game involved the creation of fictional political entities and the playing out of official and unofficial relationships between them. Evidence of this activity can be found in a set of figurines forming societies of invented States and a collection of archival documents, which are a universal parody of official politics.

“The Festival” is the most famous recent Polish comic book by Jacek Świdziński, awarded this year with the Polityka Magazine Passport in the Book category. Unlike the fictional entity “The State”, “The Festival” is based on the actual 5th International Festival of Youth and Students which was organised in Warsaw in 1955 and which attracted around 30,000 young people from 114 countries, including capitalist and Third World countries, and about 150,000 delegates from Poland. The festival contributed significantly to the events of October 1956. The author of the comic strip based the script of “The Festival” on archives, using actual festival events in individual scenes.

The exhibition combines three-dimensional compositions by Michał Slezkin which present individual diplomatic rituals, and selected scenes from “The State” with the extensive archival material which provided inspiration for the author. Visitors will also be invited to participate in a game of ‘States’, in which they can use the characters from one or the other archive or create their own compositions.      

Michał Slezkin (b. 1960) – author of oil paintings on canvas, large-scale works on paper, drawings in the form of diaries, sculptures, multidimensional objects in synthetic resins, installations using real and unreal reality, analogue and network games. He also works on conceptual projects, reaching for new techniques.
He studied at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts, graduating in graphic design and poster art in the studio of Maciej Urbaniec (1989).
He has exhibited his works at several dozen solo and group exhibitions, including the 46th Biennale of Painting Bielska Jesień 2023 (2023, Galeria Bielska BWA, Bielsko Biała).
Photo: Szymon Rogiński



Jacek Świdziński (b. 1988) – creator of comic books, culture expert, member of the Maszin group.
Author of seven comic albums, for which he has received numerous awards, including the Polityka Magazine Passport in the Book category for “The Festival” (2023) and - also for “The Festival” – the award for the best Polish comic album at the International Comics Festival in Łódź (2023).
As a comic writer, he has collaborated with the magazines Przekrój and Widok. Teorie i Praktyki Kultury Wizualnej, the Zachęta – National Gallery of Art, the National Museum in Kraków, the Warsaw Autumn Festival, Off Festival, Klub Komediowy, Teatr Wielki - Opera Narodowa. He is a comic columnist for the online magazine about culture Dwutygodnik.com.
Participant in several group exhibitions.
Photo: Justyna Solnicka 



Michał Slezkin, Jacek Świdziński – PEACE
12 April – 2 June 2024
opening, guided tour by the artists and curator: Friday 12 April at 6 p.m., free entrance  
curator: Agata Smalcerz

Accompanying events: