Interview with Piotr Drewko, founder of the gallery Wschód in Warsaw
Piotr Drewko opened his gallery in 2017 because he believes that in art what we see depends on what we know and Piotr Drewko wanted to know more. Before the gallery settled down permanently in Warsaw it had been a project space, with curatorial projects taking place in selected locations across Europe. A strain of this idea remains in the gallery’s work: Along with the roster of artists Piotr Drewko represents there are also a number of artists he frequently collaborates with.
What is your background?
My background comprises many superfluous but also valuable things. I made some irrelevant decisions, at first studying law and journalism. After that I got my BA in Photographic Arts at Westminster University, which only sounded like a fine art course. Long story short it was a theoretical study on how complex modern imagery is and how it can be understood, critisised, contorted etc. One of the highlights was one semester dedicated to Jonas Mekas’ show at Serpentine Galleries. The works were without a doubt superb but what struck me the most was the curatorial language – something that had never been an issue for me before.
What motivated you to open a gallery?
A genuine admiration for artists’ ability to give meaning and sense to something considerably negligible. Someone much smarter than me once said that in art what we see depends on what we know. I think I also wanted to know more.
When did you open the gallery?
I started the gallery in May 2017. For six months before that it was something that is usually called a „project space“. It was more like an initative formed out of guest curatorial projects taking place in selected locations across Europe. The program was designed as artist residencies of up to a month, which would conclude with a coherent exhibitions under the curatorial guidance of the hosting institution. At some point that formula ended and that led to the opening of a permanent space in Warsaw. I started with a solo show of the Greek-born, Germany-based artist Spiros Hadjidjanos.
Tell us about your program and the artists you represent.
The format of the gallery does not differ from others. However I did divide its structure into two parts – artists I represent and artists I frequently collaborate with. In the first part is a young group of Polish contemporary artists, who have made their mark both locally and internationally. One example is a young sculptor Mateusz Choróbski, who develops narration in relation to the specificity of architecture by either emphasizing or transforming particular existing elements.
Another is Anna Orlowska who embarks on a disjointed search for architectural figures through the photographic medium, displaying a strong and substantial ability to organize and arrange her findings. The other group is the basis of the international program of the gallery including Martin Kohout and Spiros Hadidjanos. At this moment there is also the young but very talented De Atelier’s student named Anders Dickson.
I am also working on a solo presentation of David Ostrowski, which will happen this October. The program also includes publication initiatives – the most recent one is called „Spoilage“. It is a project formed as an exhibition translated into publication (an exhibition that never happened) with participation of artists like Wilhelm Sasnal, Nina Canell, Piotr Lakomy, Jorge Pedro Nunez, Bill Jenkins and Daniel Koniusz among others. In this context the title “Spoilage” reffers to discarded, discredited works – works that do not form the final image, works that will never fully be finished, works that will never happen.
Last but not least there is a project called „Friend of a Friend“ put together with Stereo Gallery and Ewa Borysiewicz from Adam Mickiewicz Institute where certain Warsaw based galleries share their exhibition spaces with international guests – this dialogue with galleries from Europe and the US lies at the foundation of group shows featuring Polish and international artists.
How do you decide to add a new artist?
I go by my intuition, the artist’s motivation and progressive thinking. When those things are happening simultaniously the collaboration can be fruitful and have a long term impact.
How would you describe the role of a gallery in the art world today?
As an essential element of a bigger structure, whithout which everything falls apart.
Is there anyone who has particularly influenced you?
A lot of people along the way – artists, curators, gallerists. I think anyone that made theirmark in the art world with either unconventional thinking or hard and systematic work.
How do you see your gallery in a decade?
Hopefully as something continuously growing. The structure will be the same, only circumstances will change so I hope I will be able to adapt and expose the full potential of every artist I will be working with.
Which artists are you going to show at Paris Internationale?
I will be showing 3 artists from different generations – Mateusz Choróbski, who has prepared a new selection of scultptural works that focus on erasures, interruptions and diversity. One of them derives from the setting of generic corporate office design and its shape from the traditional raster lamps with intense conversions.
The next one is Staedelschule graduate and current student of De Atelier’s Anders Dickson with a new selection of figurative drawings and watercolors. He is particularly interesting as he got his carreer off the ground pretty quickly, having exhibiting already at Tanya Leighton and Gisela Capitain.
The last artist is the established Polish painter Jarosław Fliciński, who started his carreer in the early 90’s with his most famous series „Jumps into the Water“ – an abstract composition inspired by a rhythmic arrangement of tiles in a swimming pool. Some works will be from the original series and some function as an echo of that series.
Wschód takes part in the fourth edition of Paris art fair Paris Internationale, from October 17th to 21st, 2018.
Miedziana 11 street (Dom Słowa Polskiego)