Plewiński Wojciech
Little Shops, 1950s
26th april 2014
to 16th may 2014

‘Small, dim and shy, nestled modestly into the walls of a tenement. Several steps lead down to the front door which, when opened, rings a bell hanging overhead. Before your eyes get accustomed to the gloom, the nostrils inhale the characteristic smell of a little shop. The smell of kerosene, pickled cabbage and cucumbers, vegetables going bad, of dry pretzels. You won’t buy much more here’.

The quotation is from Maria Lechowska’s text accompanying photographs by Wojciech Plewiński and Zbigniew Gucwa featured in a 1958 issue of Ziemia. The periodical was chief-edited at the time by Przemysław Burchard, a renowned ethnographer and pioneer of Polish speleology.

Characteristically for the era, the Ziemia photographers were not simply illustrators but rather discoverers of images that resonated with Burchard, of worlds hidden in the ‘subterranean caves’ of history, their witnesses now silent. They left a sense of anxiety.

It is impossible to properly judge all that once mattered so much.

The shops are gone, and so is the whole era: ‘They are being replaced with bright, airy stores where after eight hours of work people in white aprons hurry back to their own lives’.

The exhibition at Asymetria Gallery presents never-previously-shown 1950s contact prints of Plewiński’s photographs of Cracow’s little shops (reproductions of which were published in the Ziemia feature) – as well as their new prints, freshly created by the author.

23.04.2014 15:46:31

(born 1928 in Warsaw) lives and works in Cracow. After dropping out of sculpture studies at the Cracow Academy of Fine Arts, he studied architecture at the Cracow University of Technology, graduating in 1955. Rather than practicing his learned profession, he took up photography, becoming a member of the Union of Polish Art Photographers (ZPAF) as early as in 1957. Co-founder, with Zbigniew Łagocki and Wacław Nowak, of the informal collective Domino. Long-time collaborator of the Przekrój weekly (some 500 covers by 1990). A precursor of Polish fashion and advertising photography, he pioneered and for many years dominated the ‘cover girl’ genre. Author, from 1959, of photographic documentations of over 700 shows at various Cracow theatres (Rapsodyczny, Stary Teatr, Teatr im. J. Słowackiego), including legendary stagings by Konrad Swinarski, Józef Szajna, Andrzej Wajda, Jerzy Jarocki, Krystian Lupa.

He has shown his works in numerous solo and group exhibitions in Poland and abroad. His photographs are in the collections of major institutions such as the Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź or the Muzeum Narodowe in Wrocław. Recipient of numerous awards, e.g. 1st Prize for Press Photography in Warsaw (1959); Gold Medal at the Theatre Photography Triennial in Novi Sad (1968, 1971); Medal for Old People in Madrid (1969); 1st Prize for Pope John Paul II in Poland photo essay (1979).

14.10.2013 18:21:02

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Wojciech Plewiński
Little Shops, 1950s
1958
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Wojciech Plewiński
Little Shops, 1950s
1958
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