Monika Sosnowska: Structural Exercises in London

Adrastus Collection’s artist Monika Sosnowska, who combines architectural and sculptural elements to create her 3D pieces, has just opened a new exhibition titled Structural Exercises at Hauser and Wirth London. Sosnowska (b. 1972) creates large, site-specific architectural installations which transform the physical space into a mental space that playfully distorts the viewer’s perceptions. Structural Exercises comprises seven distinct sculptural works that form an immersive exhibition which takes over gallery.

This exhibition features an entirely new body of work and is the artist’s inaugural exhibition in the gallery’s London space. Sosnowska has previously incorporated elements of modernist architecture and recognizable details including staircases, handrails and street furniture to create unexpected encounters with fragments that have an uncanny familiarity such as Adrastus Collection’s The deck (from “The fire escape”) and Handle. In recent times Sosnowska has further developed her dynamic approach to materiality in which architectural and sculptural elements are hewn together in disorienting new configurations. In this exhibition, however, Sosnowska subsumes the prefabricated components of seven sculptural works to draw the visitor’s attention precisely towards the materials, the alchemical transformations they have been subjected to, and the contextual departure they have undergone. Many of these new sculptures emerge from the fabric of the gallery space itself, bringing out an immersive experience for its viewers.

Sosnowska’s sculptural language emerges from a process of experimentation and the deft appropriation of core materials that are closely associated with construction. The use of these materials specifically shows how objects usually associated with support and rigidity can be manipulated to become independent. She subverts the durability of the materials used for lightness and pliability. Some of the sculptures emerge from the gallery walls, floor and ceilings in a manner that takes into account the viewer’s presence and movement throughout the gallery space.

Sosnowska’s interest in construction and architecture comes form her lived experience of the rapid transformation of her home town, Warsaw. By the 1960s, Warsaw’s urban environment was etched with a modernist architecture that was imbued with utopian aspirations as part of a desire to remould the city in line with a new socialist order following the devastation of World War Two. As political power shifted from Communist to Neo-Liberal governance in Poland in the late 1980s, as the artist was coming of age, this drive for architectural order had stalled. Buildings were razed and were quickly superseded by new developments as capitalism took hold. The resulting dialectic of the construction and destruction process, along with the potential of ruin and reversal, wrought on the very fabric of the urban environment, has had a lasting resonance for the artist.

Born in Ryki, Poland, Monika Sosnowska (b. 1972) studied at the Academy of Fine Arts, Poznań, Poland from 1993 –1998 and at Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten, Amsterdam from 1999 – 2000. Sosnowska first achieved international renown in 2003 with ‘The Corridor’, an intervention that formed part of the Arsenale exhibition of the 50th Venice Biennale. Solo exhibitions for Sosnowska have included: ‘Monika Sosnowska’, The Contemporary Austin, Austin TX (2016); ‘Monika Sosnowska’, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis IN (2016); ‘Monika Sosnowska. Gate’, Ginza Maison Hermès, Tokyo, Japan (2015); ‘Monika Sosnowska. Architectonisation’, Fundação De Serralves, Porto, Portugal (2015); ‘Market’, Perez Art Museum, Miami FL (2013); Aspen Art Museum, Aspen CO (2013); ‘Regional Modernities’, Australian Center for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, Australia (2013); ‘The Staircase/Die Treppe, 2010’, K21 Ständehaus, Düsseldorf, Germany (2011); Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art, Herzliya, Israel (2010); Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, Vaduz, Liechtenstein (2007); and the Museum of Modern Art, New York NY (2006). In 2007, Sosnowska represented Poland at the 52nd Venice Biennale, where her work garnered critical international attention for the monumental sculpture ‘1:1’ (2007).