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Skopje. City, Architecture and Art of Solidarity

Skopje. City, Architecture and Art of Solidarity exhibition poster.

About exhibition

Gallery opening hours: From Tuesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
The last entrance to the exhibition at 6.30 p.m.
Ticket prices: Regular – 13 PLN, concessionary – 8 PLN, family – 20 PLN

HAPPY HOUR – every Tuesday and Wednesday between 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. entrance to the exhibition for just 2 PLN.

In every Sunday exhibition guided tour (free for ticket holers)
  • In every Sundaty, at 12 p.m. in Polish
  • In first and third Sunday of every month, at 4 p.m. in English
  • In second and fourth Sunday of every month, at 4 p.m. in Ukrainian
It is not the first time that the International Cultural Centre has been discovering the treasures of Polish art, on this occasion uncovered in the Macedonian capital – Skopje. In 1963 the tragedy of the city that was left in ruins by an earthquake shocked entire world. Poland offered assistance in rebuilding the city, while the experience of architects who had earlier rebuilt Warsaw proved invaluable. 

The International Cultural Centre and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Skopje (MSU) invited you to the exhibition 'Skopje: City, Architecture and Art of Solidarity', which was the first comprehensive presentation dedicated to the Macedonian capital – its difficult 20th-century history and previously unknown relations with Polish art, architecture, and urban planning. The show focused on the story of rebuilding of Skopje after the tragic earthquake of 1963 and on the exceptional gestures of solidarity of many countries, organisations, and benefactors who were deeply moved by the enormity of loss and suffering experienced by the Macedonians.

- The exhibition was inspired by the work and commitment of Kinga Nettmann-Multanowska and the ambassador Jacek Multanowski who during their stay in Skopje undertook scrupulous search for Polish traces in the Macedonian capital. They uncovered the forgotten unique collection of Polish 20th-century art stored at the Museum of Contemporary Art, which was donated by the artists after the earthquake in a gesture of solidarity – explains Agata Wąsowska-Pawlik, the co-curator of the exhibition and the director of the ICC. For the Polish public the show was valuable as a reminder of the life and work of Polish architects and urban planners who took part in bringing Skopje back to life.

Poles rebuild Skopje

On 26 July 1963 an earthquake destroyed as much as 80 percent of Skopje, while the scale of the disaster shock entire world. The Macedonian capital was the first city to be almost completely ruined since World War II, so it was natural that Polish architects and urban planners were approached due to their valuable experience in reconstructing and rebuilding the demolished city of Warsaw. The exhibition will tell the story of figures such as Adolf Ciborowski (1919–1987), who was appointed by the UN to oversee the rebuilding process, the urban planner and architect Stanisław Jankowski (1911–2002), the head of the Polish team who devised the rebuilding plan, as well as the “Tygrysy” group of three architects who designed the Museum of Contemporary Art: Wacław Kłyszewski (1910–2000), Jerzy Mokrzyński (1909–1997) and Eugeniusz Wierzbicki (1909–1991).

The most intriguing European capital

Whereas Warsaw was rebuilt the same it was before the war, Skopje was conceived as a city of the future, embracing the most innovative urban ideas. Thanks to visionary designs, epitomised by the plan of the city centre designed by the famous Japanese architect Kenzō Tange, Skopje has become one of Europe’s most interesting architectural landmarks. It was designed as the most up-to-date, cosmopolitan and modernist cities of the Balkans, with brutalist architecture of highest quality, while the wounds left by the earthquake were covered by raw concrete of sculpted futuristic shapes. The rebuilding effort was construed as yet another stage in the process of national and social liberation that came to mark a crucial part of Macedonian history.

Unknown treasure of Polish art

A great asset of this exhibition is the opportunity for the Polish audience to see for the first time a selection of most outstanding works from a collection of 200 pieces donated by Poland to the new museum. Oil paintings, prints, sculptures, textiles, and medals represent the leading trends of Polish art of the 1960s – post-colourism, geometrical and allusive abstraction, and matter painting. Most of the works were collected by the Association of Polish Visual Artists, where they were gathered in several stages between 1963 and 1967. Works by artists such as Jan Berdyszak, Tadeusz Brzozowski, Jerzy Krawczyk, Alfred Lenica, Benon Liberski, Ewa Maria Łunkiewicz-Rogoyska, Jerzy Nowosielski, Teresa Pągowska, Henryk Stażewski, Andrzej Strumiłło, Rajmund Ziemski and many others were donated in a gesture of solidarity by the Polish art world. Notably, similar sentiments were expressed by the international community and the Polish collection shares museum space with the most outstanding representatives of global art such as Pablo Picasso, Alexander Calder, Niki de Saint Phalle, Hans Hartung and Victor Vasarely.

A multimedia exhibition

The exhibition is addressed to the audience of all ages, both to the lovers and researchers of Polish architecture and urban planning, as well as to those interested in unknown collections of painting and sculpture. This comprehensive display showcases 70 works of painting, sculpture, drawing, and printmaking. A unique value of the exhibition is a large selection of photographs, documentary films, architectonic models and urban plans. Notably, at the turn of 2018 and 2019 the New York Museum of Modern Art organised Towards Concrete Utopia, an exhibition that investigated a unique variety of architecture in Yugoslavia in the period 1948–1980 and its specific yet multidimensional character. Skopje was one of the key cities in this show, while several buildings and models displayed in New York were also presented at the ICC.

Exhibition concept: Agata Wąsowska-Pawlik, Łukasz Galusek

Curators: Monika Rydiger, Agata Wąsowska-Pawlik

Curatorial cooperation: Vladimir Deskov, Łukasz Galusek, Jovan Ivanowski,
Kinga Nettmann–Multanowska, Pavel Veljanovski, Jasmina Namiceva

Authors of texts: Ana Ivanovska Deskova (AID), Łukasz Galusek (ŁG), Jovan Ivanovski (JI), Vladimir Deskov (VD), Monika Rydiger (MR), Pavel Veljanowski (PV), Agata Wąsowska-Pawlik (AWP), Michał Wiśniewski (MW)

Exhibition design: Rafał Bartkowicz

Organisation and coordination: Karolina Wójcik, Blagoja Varosanec, Jasmina Namiceva

Collaboration: Anna Śliwa, Katarzyna Bilska, Kinga Nettmann–Multanowska

Editing and Polish proofreading: Anastazja Oleśkiewicz

English translation and editing: Jessica Taylor–Kucia, Nicholas Hodge

Photography: Paweł Mazur

Organised by: The International Cultural Centre, The Museum of Contemporary Art in Skopje

Partners: Museum of the City of Skopje

Financial support by: The Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and the Municipality of Krakow

Media partners of the exhibition 'Skopje: City, Architecture and Art of Solidarity':
Polskie Radio Program 2, “Do Rzeczy”, “Dziennik Polski”, “ARCH”, “Architektura Murator”, “New Eastern Europe”

Permanent media partners of the ICC: TVP 3 Kraków, Radio Kraków Małopolska, “Karnet”,
“In Your Pocket”, Polski Portal Kultury O.pl, “Herito”, AHICE

Media partner of the Mature for Art programme: “Głos Seniora”

Media partner of the children’s educational programme: Czasdzieci.pl, #muzealniaki

Funded by Ministry of Culture and National Heritage

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