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Artistic trends 2022: What will be the impact of the policy on the European artistic scenes?

When it comes to election slogans and winning policies, art and culture rarely figure high on the political agenda.

While those in the arts Often lament the feeling of being politically out of sight, out of mind, the flip side is that too much government attention can quickly start to be suffocating.

The right-wing governments of Hungary and Poland, the current Blacks beasts from the EU club, have both come under fire in recent years for undue interference in their respective artistic scenes.

Such interference has often been overshadowed by more high-profile battles – controversial media and minority rights laws – but the arts have nevertheless become increasingly entangled in the contested political landscapes of the two countries.

The result could be overwhelming. Here’s why.

Government intervention causes problems for Polish galleries and museums

Europe’s clash between politics (or rather politicians) and art is most vivid in Poland.

Currently, the ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) is accused of systematically replacing the leaders of major museums and art institutions with political figures whose views are in line with its broader cultural and political agenda.

Conceived as a contest between a liberal left-wing art world and the government’s conservative, firmly Christian values, art’s supporters seem to be losing out.

Polish visual art institutions that have recently seen or are awaiting an imminent change of management include the Contemporary Art Center at Ujazdowski Castle in Warsaw and the Art Museum in Łódź.

On January 1, perhaps the most controversial of all recent changes is due to be completed when Janusz Janowski – a painter and arts union leader – takes over the Zachęta National Art Gallery in Warsaw.

Expressing shock and outrage when her cast was announced in late 2021, many Polish arts professionals have been particularly unflattering in their rejection of Janowski’s suitability for the role.

Break the progressive markers

In a written article in December for Art in America, art historian and curator Magdalena Moskalewicz argued that the appointment was an “affront to the Polish art scene“.

Janowski, Moskalewicz added, “is a really terrible painter” and while this does not exclude his potential for leadership, she admitted, he “never ran an institution of this caliber and he demonstrates no expertise in contemporary art “.

Holding a collection of over 3,500 modern and contemporary works of art, Zachęta is responsible for the participation of the country in the Venice Biennale, and has, until now, been seen as a kind of progressive beacon.

And yet, the Polish Ministry of Culture remains firm in its decision.

A statement explaining Janowski’s selection noted that he was a “painter, theorist and art historian, curator, jazz musician, doctor of humanities, [and] member of the Polish Philosophical Society ‘with strong involvement in regional visual art organizations and exhibitions dating back to 2004.

Other commentators, however, have reflected Moskalewicz’s sentiments, condemning the fact that Janowski – whom they see as a conservative traditionalist – is now running what is arguably Poland’s premier venue for contemporary art. .

Describing what they see as a comprehensive “ideological takeover” by the government, members of the Polish arts scene privately express that they now feel “helpless and desperate” mired in what they say is “one.” sad and tragic period for Polish visual art ”.

In the meantime, Hungary is considering projects supported by Orbán

Meanwhile, in Hungary, the ambitious but controversial Liget project is moving forward in its transformation both of the physical landscape of the Budapest City Park, as well as of the cultural offerings of the city as a whole.

The project is an original idea of ​​László Baán.

A respected figure in the international art world, Baán is the long-time director of the Budapest Fine Arts Museum, an institution housing one of the most important art collections in Central Europe, which has repeatedly organized major exhibitions of works by artists like Rembrandt, Rubens and Cézanne.

Strongly supported by the ruling Hungarian party Fidesz and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, the Liget project has always been politically sensitive and has undergone a number of changes since its initial conception.

Advertised on nationalist lines by Orbán as a venture that can bring “glory” to Hungary, criticism of the project has often focused on the perceived negative impact it will have on the green spaces of the city’s parks.

In response to protesters who campaigned against cutting down trees and constructing tall buildings in the park environment, the team behind the project has always maintained that its green spaces are being improved and expanded, stressing the fact that an elaborate play area for children and sports facilities were also added.

Objections to the project, however, never disappeared, especially from politicians in the city and the opposition.

Nevertheless, the Liget project has reached a number of milestones, including the completion of a new national museum restoration and storage center on the site of a former hospital in 2019.

With this installation acting as an essential resource ready to serve the new museums planned for the larger project, as well as the existing institutions of Budapest, it is now expected to be followed in 2022 by the opening of the Hungarian Music House, designed by Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto, as well as a new Ethnography museum.

Between Gergely Karácsony, Mayor of Budapest

As it stands, however, the centerpiece of the entire project, a planned new national gallery – designed by Japanese architecture firm SANAA – is currently on hold, following objections raised by the mayor of Budapest, Gergely Karácsony.

Fidesz opponent, Karácsony was elected in 2019 on a green platform and quickly decided to stop work on the Liget project which had not yet cleared.

Even though he withdrew from his candidacy for prime minister against Orbán earlier this year, he remains a staunch opponent of building new museums inside the city park.

While Baán says the necessary authorization and licenses remain in place for the new € 250 million national gallery to be completed, its realization has stalled, pending further political negotiations.

With parliamentary elections set to take place in the spring, it appears that such discussions will now wait until Hungarian voters have voted.

Beyond the realm of art, these elections, as well as wider tensions in Hungary and Poland, will be closely watched by observers keen to understand what impact they are likely to have on the European political map.

While artistic concerns may fall back on the agenda again, it is unlikely that they will become less entangled in politics anytime soon.