Maria Pinińska-Bereś, Natalia Lach-Lachowicz, Ewa Partum

Exhibition open until 8 May 2011

Zachęta National Gallery of Art
Pl. Małachowskiego 3
00-916 Warsaw
T (48 22) 556 96 01

The subject of the exhibition is the work of three female artists, pioneers of Polish women's art: Ewa Partum, Natalia Lach-Lachowicz and Maria Pinińska-Bereś, who died in 1999. From the 1970s onwards, the three have been linked by a similar quest in which a clear feminist intuition or an identification with feminism is perceptible. Despite this, however, this is the first time when their works are set alongside one another in such a configuration.

Amongst the three artists, it was Ewa Partum who most decisively identified herself with a feminist stance in art. As early as the 1970s she actively, in manifestoes read during exhibition openings, expressed her opinion on the question of the equality of women and their discrimination. In the case of the work of Natalia LL, who to this day distances herself from the critical postulates of the women's movement, but who, having been noted by feminist criticism, from the second half of the 1970s has taken part in exhibitions and manifestations of feminist art, one can perhaps talk in terms of her being 'co-opted' by Western feminist discourse. The soft, pink forms of Maria Pinińska-Bereś, on the other hand, openly linked with female sexuality, are seen by some Polish critics even as a precursor in relation to feminist art in the West.

The title inspired by the 1977 Robert Altman film, makes reference to the title of the first collective presentation of women's art in Poland, the exhibition Three Women in the Arsenal Gallery in Poznań (1978), in which Anna Bednarczuk, the assistant of Magdalena Abakanowicz, Izabella Gustowska and Krystyna Piotrowska took part.

The exhibition is a part of the process of giving to women's art in Poland its rightful historical place, a process underway since the mid 1990s. Through the exhibition, curator Ewa Toniak and author of the spatial concept, set designer Małgorzata Szczęśniak, explore the artists' work afresh. Rather than describing the artists' work in the language of art history, they create a space in which the works presented propose a dialogue, opening up the potential for different interpretations and responses.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue with texts by Ewa Toniak, Agata Jakubowska and Ewa Tatar, and the philosopher and film theoretician Paweł Mościcki. The exhibition is accompanied by a rich educational programme (lectures, panel discussions, films) on the topic of the history of the beginnings of Polish women's art, its reception in the People's Republic of Poland, and its relations with the feminist movement in the West.

curator Ewa Toniak
exhibition design Małgorzata Szczęśniak
co-designer Łukasz Kwietniewski
co-operation on the part of Zachęta: Anna Tomczak, Julia Leopold