Karol Palczak, Słodka Pani, 2023
Karol Palczak: San
Jun 30 – Aug 12, 2023
London, UK

Emalin is pleased to present San, a solo exhibition by Karol Palczak (b. 1987 in Przemyśl, Poland). This is the artist’s first exhibition with the gallery, and his first outside of Poland. San is the name of the river flowing through Krzywcza – Palczak’s home village in Subcarpathia, a rural region in the southeast of Poland. The river and its landscape are silent subjects of observation in Palczak’s camera lens as he films scenes staged or encountered in his local context. Surrounded by the void left by the Jewish-Orthodox-Catholic population that used to coinhabit the region, Palczak’s works feature a cast of characters from the economically strained, increasingly depopulated and militarised area. As both a witness and a part of its story, Palczak speaks to a connection between modernity and the landscape, and he speaks to it through tenderness.

Drawing technical and stylistic references from historic traditions of painting, Palczak mixes pigments with sun-exposed oils and primes metal sheets with garlic. His precise, focused studies treat their subjects with devoted attention. The artist’s videos relay the true dynamic of his engagement – improvised, chaotic, sometimes skirting danger. The camera shakes in his hands and the frame rotates as he gives instructions to his friends, passes canisters of gasoline, calls for water.

Large effigies made of hay and set alight reference the Slavic practice of burning marzannas, a pre-Christian folk custom still practiced in Poland today. Traditionally, the burning of these figures represented the passing of seasons. However, in Palczak’s practice it also stands in for the listlessness and loneliness of men in a rural region that many have left in pursuit of economic opportunities in urban centres. At the same time, the effigies act as an intermediary for a connection to the land, something spiritually familiar captured in the cold stillness of oil and metal.

The series of self-portraits of legs focuses on the burn scars left on Palczak’s skin from an explosive accident he survived as a boy. The same fires are still set by men in the same places: the muddy yard, the stables in wintertime. Following the fire’s trace, Palczak connects self-portraiture to the effigies and trees set alight in other works.

Palczak’s project is a technically focused observation of the environment as a vessel for spiritual survival. As in the tradition of 19th century realist painting, the social context imbues the landscape with a sense of transience and anxiety: the impact of economy and technical detritus on nature and its people rendered emotive.

  • Mikel Bastida: Anarene
    Tipi Photo Bookshop

    Anarene is a book that was born from an eight-year photographic project made by Mikel Bastida in the United States. In the spirit of referencing the ghost town in Archer County, Texas, portrayed in Peter Bogdanovich’s film adaptation of Larry McMurtry’s novel The Last Picture Show, the author has traveled the country looking for images and stories that cinema has left behind. (more…)

  • Wong Chung-Wai: Hong Kong After Hong Kong

    In May 2021, Wong Chung-Wai left Hong Kong with his family to begin a new life in the UK. During the six months prior to their departure he had wandered the city alone using his camera to create an imprint of those things he could not take with him. The photographs in Hong Kong After Hong Kong are Chung-Wai’s visual lament for the city. They show the city’s contradictions – the co-existence of urban infrastructure and nature, the ancient and contemporary (more…)

  • Coexisting with Darkness
    Nov 9, 2023 – Mar 31, 2024
    Mystetskyi Arsenal
    Kyiv, Ukraine

    In October 2022, Russia began to systemically target the objects of the Ukrainian critical infrastructure, disrupting the supply of electricity, water, heat, and telecommunication. Missiles and UAV strikes led to the introduction of rolling blackouts, causing cities and villages to be periodically engulfed in darkness. ‘Energy terrorism’ tactics aimed to disrupt Ukraine’s ‘mental infrastructure’: to break people’s faith in their own strength and their trust in government. (more…)

  • Miranda July: New Society
    Mar 7 – Oct 14, 2024
    Fondazione Prada
    Milan, Italy

    Curated by Mia Locks, Miranda July: New Society is the first solo museum exhibition dedicated to Miranda July’s work. Spanning three decades, from the early 1990’s until today, the exhibition includes early short films, performance, and multimedia installations. The exhibition debuts F.A.M.I.L.Y (Falling Apart Meanwhile I Love You), a multi-channel video installation July made in collaboration with seven strangers via Instagram. (more…)

  • How we remember tomorrow
    Feb 13 – Jun 15, 2024
    University of Queensland Art Museum
    Brisbane, Australia

    How we remember tomorrow celebrates storytelling across generations, through oceans and waterways and transcending eras and perspectives. Featured artists understand the watery spaces of our planet as ancestral archives: sources of knowledge that carry stories and cultural practices. Alongside their kin, they honour intergenerational narratives that are disseminated along ocean currents despite ongoing colonial legacies of forced displacement, homeland dispossession, indenture and the loss or dormancy of vital cultural practices. (more…)