Henryk Foundation

Projects / Welcome to the Country where the Gypsy Has Been Hunted

Welcome to the Country where the Gypsy Has Been Hunted. Krzysztof Gil

16.11.2018 – 05.01.2019

l’étrangère, London (UK)

Artist: Krzysztof Gil

Curator: Wojtek Szymański

Coordinator: Aleksander Celusta, Kola Śliwińska

The show is comprised of a single installation, entitled TAJSA Yesterday and Tomorrow (2018), which takes as its point of departure the ritual of ‘Heidenjachten’ or ‘Gypsy-hunt’, prevalent in Germany and the Netherlands from the seventeenth until as late as the nineteenth centuries.

The installation, a shelter-like construction made from raw canvas and fragments of wooden planks and connected with threads, ropes and bone glue, imitates the traditional, humble and temporary houses erected by itinerant Roma communities. Inside the shelter is a large panoramic tableau that depicts a procession of hunters, animals and human corpses, drawn with white chalk on a black background. The characters have been inspired by the Rembrandt painting, The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulp (1632), in which Dr Tulp presents a public dissection to members of the Amsterdam Guild of Surgeons. Gil’s drawings of the hunters’ trophy heap, which includes a deer, a hare, a bird and a Roma, perversely resembles the aestheticised paintings of the Dutch still-life tradition.

Krzysztof Gil (b. 1987, Kraków) is of Polish Roma origins and grew up in Nowy Targ, Poland. Between 2008-2013, he studied Graphic Design at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow. He is the recipient of the Jolanta Kwaśniewska Foundation scholarship ‘Understanding without Barriers’, and a three-time recipient of the Polish Minister of Interior and Administration scholarship. In 2008, he co-founded the artistic group Romani Art, and is also involved in social activities that oppose discrimination and social exclusion. He is a member of the ternYpe International Roma Youth Network, which helps young Roma people to become active citizens. As he says: ‘From the beginning of my artistic education at high school in Krakow, the topic of Roma has been extremely important to me. Now, years later, I realised that I had to look at my culture from different perspectives and take more distance. It helped me to get involved in projects against intolerance and stereotypes. In 2013, Gil began his PhD at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow. His topic is the correlation between the past, present and future of the Roma people, as represented by the Roma word ‘tajsa’, which translates as both ‘today’ and ‘tomorrow.

The exhibition is supported by the Municipality of Kraków, Poland and the Polish Cultural Institute, London, UK.