A brush with... Wilhelm Sasnal

Polish artist Wilhelm Sasnal talks to Ben Luke about his influences—from writers to musicians, film-makers and, of course, other artists—and the cultural experiences that have shaped his life and work. Sasnal, born in 1972 in Tarnów, Poland, has made one of the most significant contributions to painting in the 21st century. He works with photographic imagery, drawn from an array of sources including newspapers, film, music videos, album covers, graphic novels, historic art and, crucially, his own photographs, including those taken on his smartphone, of his family. He also makes films, both in collaboration with his wife Anka and on his own. The result is a body of work that engages profoundly with contemporary life and the saturation of images that accompanies it. He discusses his array of source images and the process of choosing and using them, and how he has balanced the public and private across his career. He talks about risk-taking and allowing the paint to dictate the path of a picture. He reflects on how music was the spur for his discovery of art, and how it continues to be central to his work today. He talks about artists as diverse as Degas, Seurat, Sigmar Polke and Wolfgang Tillmans. And he answers our usual questions, including the ultimate: “What is art for?”

Wilhelm Sasnal, Sadie Coles HQ, Kingly St, London, until 16 March; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 30 March-1 September; Wilhelm’s film The Assistant will be screened later in 2024.

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