Political instability can bring about unexpected and engaging art. It can influence an individual artist’s career for a lifetime. The present geopolitical situation has echoes of the past for many artists. In Allies for Art: Work from NATO-related countries (Oct. 8-16), browngrotta arts in Wilton will be highlighting works from Eastern and Western Europe from the ‘60s to the present, created under or influenced by political uncertainty.
Some of the 40+ artists included in Allies for Art fled oppressive regimes, some of the work was created under occupation, and artists living in the area now have shared their feelings of unease under the current conditions. Gyöngy Laky’s family, for example, escaped from Soviet-occupied Hungary after World War II — to Austria, then America, experiences that are reflected in her politically themed works. Adela Akers’ family left Franco’s Spain, first for Cuba, then to the US. In the 1960s and very early 1970s, Ritzi Jacobi’s expressive work in tapestry, abstract by nature, allowed her to circumvent the Romanian government’s preference for academic, figurative art which supported communist ideology.
Several of the other artists in the exhibition from Eastern Europe, including Jolanta Owidzka, Zofia Butrymowicz, Anna Urbanowicz-Krowacka, and Krystyna
Wojtyna-Drouet of Poland and Luba Krejci and Jan Hladik of Czechoslovakia, were introduced to US audiences in the 1960s through 1980s by Chicago gallerists Jacques and Anne Baruch who spirited their work out of countries under oppressive regimes. On Aug. 20, 1968, for example, the Baruchs left Prague after meeting with artists, just five hours before Soviet tanks rolled into the city and brutally ended a brief period of democratic reforms.
“We were captivated by their energy, experiments and bold compositions,” Anne would write of the Polish fiber artists that the Baruchs met in 1970. “Though there were…shortages of studios, materials, and most necessities for daily life, all their problems did not hamper their work. Rather, it stimulated their creativity, and their use of sisal, rope, metal, horsehair, and fleece as well as the traditional wool, flax and silk, and revealed new artistic thought with results which were dynamic, highly personal and original.”
Allies for Art will also include current works created by European artists including Gudrun Pagter of Denmark, Åse Ljones of Norway, Włodmierz Cygan of Poland and, artists new to browngrotta arts, including Esmé Hofman of the Netherlands, Anneke Klein of Denmark, Aby Mackie of Spain and Baiba Osite of Latvia. Even if outside a nation’s borders, nearby political upheaval can take a toll. German artist, Heidrun Schimmel, says that living in a country, united and secure in NATO since 1989, “it’s now hard for us to learn: … everything is hanging by a thread…” UK Rachel Max, whose family left Austria in 1938 and 1939 and Russia and Hungary before the first World War, says that the war in Ukraine “has created a sense of fear and instability I never thought we would experience in Europe. The world suddenly feels smaller and conflict doesn’t feel far away.”
Make your reservation to see the exceptional and diverse works in Art for Allies on Eventbrite.
browngrotta arts is located at 276 Ridgefield Rd. in Wilton.
The gallery dates and hours for the exhibition are:
- Saturday, Oct. 8: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Opening & Artist Reception)
- Sunday, Oct. 9: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Monday, Oct. 10 through Saturday, Oct. 15: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Sunday, Oct. 16: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Final Day)
Founded in 1987 in Wilton, CT, browngrotta arts showcases unique sculptural and mixed media works with an emphasis on concept, supported by technique. Much of the focus of the work is on the materials. Technical mastery of the artist as intrinsic to the significance of the work, prioritizing aesthetic value over utility. Museum-quality artworks by more than 100 international artists are represented through art catalogs, art fairs, co-partnered exhibits at museums, retail spaces, and an online gallery.
browngrotta arts has published 54 art catalogs and placed works in private and corporate collections in the US and abroad, including the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Arts and Design, Art Institute of Chicago, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Museum. The owners, Tom Grotta and Rhonda Brown, also regularly work with architects and interior designers offering consultation for commissioned artworks and site-specific installation for commercial and residential spaces.
A selection of works is on view and available for sales inquiries at on the browngrotta website.