Piotr Szyhalski is originally from Poland but moved to the US in 1991. There’s a rebellious nature to his work with a strong mark of the power of people united. The art reminded me of art I saw in Russia decades ago. It’s stark, yet powerful. A few strokes, a turn of phrase helps the art hit its target directly. There’s something scary or at least daunting about the work.
The exhibit at The Weisman showcases his earlier works and shows. Much was familiar to me; I had forgotten his photographs and video because what I like most in his collection are the posters, murals and signs. They remind me of being at marches. Their message is clear but punctuated by the art. It is the art of the people.
What I was most excited to see today was the New Labor Camp Report, which opened today. (It opens Aug 20.) Szyhalski started creating posters in March 2020, based on the events of the day. I loved seeing them in the wild on my walks; often pasted under the Lake Street Bridge. They should have felt hyperbolic, they felt everyday in an Orwellian way. Seeing them together was a reminder of how historic and horrific the last few years have been. We are fighting racism climate change, loss of rights, disease, capitalism. He made over 200 posters, so my list could go on.
Seeing his art earlier this century felt like a look back in time; seeing it now is a cold reminder that we are going back in time in terms of progressing in the belief of power of the people of all colors, genders, range of abilities, jobs and more. What I like is that, Szyhalski gives us the glimpse as the state of our world by arming us with one tool to rescue ourselves. He gives us art to share and use in the streets to promote change. (And the need to vote!)