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Masterpieces surrounded by ribbon. Exhibition at Wawel Royal Castle by NArchitekTURA studio.

Ola Kloc
18 of August '22

We recently wrote about an exhibition of Italian Renaissance master pieces in one of the chambers of the Royal Castle in Warsaw, for which the architectural setting was designed by Bartosz Haduch and Lukasz Marjanski of the Krakow studio NArchitekTURA. The same duo of architects is responsible for another exhibition, this time in the capital of Malopolska - also in the spaces of the royal castle and also presenting paintings by Renaissance artists, but telling a completely different story.

Another temporary exhibition arranged by architects from the NArchitekTURA studio can be seen at the Wawel Royal Castle in Cracow until October 2 this year. The exhibition "Masterpieces from the Lanckoroński Collection," curated by Joanna Winiewicz-Wolska, presents three paintings created by Renaissance artists - Italian painter Paolo Uccello, whose canvas depicting Saint Georgeoccupies a central place in the exhibition, the imitator of German artist Bartholomaeus Bruyn the elder - "Portrait of a 21-year-old woman" and Barend Graat from the Netherlands with his painting "Society in the Park."

architekci postawili na wyobloną ścianę pokrytą miedzianymi panelami oraz wygiętą jak wstęga balustradę ze sklejki

The architects opted for a splayed wall covered with copper panels and a ribbon-like bent plywood balustrade

photo: Anna Stankiewicz

How to build an exhibition and tell a story with only three works of art? The architects once again reached for a technique they've tried and tested - a thoughtful dialogue between art and architecture, contemporaneity and history, works of art and their audience.

The project [...] is based on numerous - direct and indirect - references to the presented paintings and their authors, as well as to the exhibition's location in the Royal Apartments at Wawel Castle and the broader context of Krakow," explains Bartosz Haduch. - The works of Renaissance artists [...] have been placed in a space that combines contemporary forms, technologies and materials with historic interiors and historical references from the history of art and architecture, he adds.

inspiracją dla architektów były między innymi kaplice otaczające nawę katedry wawelskiej

The architects were inspired, among other things, by the chapels surrounding the nave of Wawel Cathedral

photo: Anna Stankiewicz

The architects first looked for inspiration in the city's historic icon - the Wawel Cathedral, whose nave is surrounded by a total of nineteen chapels, including the Renaissance Sigismund Chapel. The arrangement they created was therefore intended to resemble an almost sacred space, integrated into an amphitheater sequence of castle halls.

As in the nearby cathedral, this new "chapel" was to be adjacent to the already defined interior and the main passageway, constituting an autonomous form and continuing the tradition of layering different architectural styles and forms at Wawel Castle, the architect says.

„Arcydzieła z kolekcji Lanckorońskich” na Wawelu

"Masterpieces from the Lanckoronski collection" at Wawel Castle

Photo: Anna Stankiewicz

But it didn't end there - further sources of inspiration were the vaulted arch in the hall, the coffered ceiling and the aforementioned paintings borrowed for the exhibition from the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, London's National Gallery and the Ackland Art Museum in Chapel Hill, USA.

As a result, the architects opted for a splayed wall covered with copper panels and a ribbon-like curved plywood balustrade that gently brings viewers closer to the individual works.

organiczna forma balustrady uzupełniona jest o informacje na temat poszczególnych dzieł wyoblona balustrada przybliża widzów do prezentowanych dzieł

The spun balustrade brings viewers closer to the works on display

photo: Anna Stankiewicz

The shape of this copper wall was taken from the line visible in the upper part of the painting [...] "Portrait of a 21-year-old woman" exhibited at the exhibition. In the first design ideas, the sunken form was also meant to resemble the mysterious interior of the grotto illustrated by Paolo Uccella in the centrally hung canvas "Saint George and the Dragon." The muted colors of the new arrangement, in turn, are a nod to the third work on display, "Society in the Garden" by Barend Graat. The show is complemented by three sacred paintings from the Lanckoronski collection, presented as part of a permanent exhibition in various rooms around the arcade courtyard, the designer adds.

wystawę uzupełniają trzy obrazy sakralne z kolekcji Lanckorońskich

The exhibition is complemented by three sacred paintings from the Lanckoronski collection

photo: Dariusz Blażewski

Plastic, monolithic displays or elements of exhibition arrangements have already become a hallmark of the NArchitekTURA studio, like the characteristic, sweeping signatures of artists placed in the corners of paintings. In this edition, the organic form is complemented by information on individual works. Another interesting element are the portable round mirrors placed on the balustrade (symbolically alluding to the optical illusions used by Uccell), which reflect fragments of the works and the aforementioned coffered ceiling, directing our gaze to perhaps less obvious elements and details, inviting us to play a game of discovering artistic details.

kształt tej miedzianej ściany zaczerpnięto z linii widocznej w górnej części obrazu „Portret 21-letniej kobiety” obok opisów dzieł architekci umieścili przenośne, okrągłe lusterka

The organic form of the balustrade is complemented by information on individual works of art

photo: Anna Stankiewicz, photo: Dariusz Blażewski

compiled by:
Ola Kloc

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