16/10/2022 – 22/01/2023,

Mikołaj Sobczak. Leibeigene

, Kunsthalle Münster


Mikołaj Sobczak, Die Vision, 2022, acrylic on canvas, 220 x 960 cm


In a range of media spanning paintings, films, performances, drawings and ceramics, Mikołaj Sobczak deals predominantly with the representation of historical events. With Leibeigene, Kunsthalle Münster is staging the artist’s first institutional solo exhibition outside Poland conceived to present the various facets of his artistic oeuvre. Sobczak poses questions about a new collective culture of identity and memory with his works. Referencing historical events, but also fictional narratives such as fairy tales, sagas and myths, he expands the narrative patterns underlying traditional, canonized and instrumentalized history to include moments of emancipation. As an artist committed to expanding the grand narratives of history, he sees the urgent need to interrogate historiography through its permanent reformulation.

In times of political radicalization, Sobczaks art invites us to engage with the construction of history. In his paintings, he plays with the convention of classical history painting by using the original qualities of the genre for his works. His condensed renderings are often based on compositions of iconic paintings; the quotations are compiled in a collage-like manner and transferred into new contexts, not least by confronting them with motifs deriving from counterculture or popular culture. With figures originating from a variety of contexts—every person, every place, every object has its own story—his works are marked by a rather complex iconography. The collage as the chosen artistic form reveals fragments of history, allows history(s) to be told in all its diversity and thus breaks with a historical simplification of events. Here, history does not give the impression of being fully told or completed. On the contrary, it provides multiple points of reference the viewer can link up with. Sobczak devotes himself to stories beyond the ideological representations of official historiography. He thus creates contemporary historical images with depictions of outstanding protagonists from LGBTQI+ activism, queer and emancipatory countercultural milieus and resistance movements, in imaginative company with fantastic characters and creatures representing the vision of a transnational utopia. His focus lies above all on marginalized personalities, those side-lined or erased from history.

Mikołaj Sobczak (born 1989 in Poznań, Poland) works as an artist with video, painting and ceramics, often including performative actions, for which he regularly collaborates with the artist Nicholas Grafia. After studying at the Academy of Fine Arts Warsaw (2011–2016) and a scholarship at the Berlin University of the Arts (2014–2015), he graduated as a master student of Aernout Mik from the Kunstakademie Münster in 2019. Since 2021 he has been an artist-in-residence at the Rijksakadmie van beeldende kunsten in Amsterdam. His works have been shown in solo and group exhibitions at numerous institutions: Kunsthalle Düsseldorf (2017); Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw (2018); Dortmunder Kunstverein (2019); Museum Ludwig, Cologne (2019); Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf (2019); Maison Populaire, Paris (2020); Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art, Warsaw (2020); VII Moscow International Biennale for Young Art (2020); steirischer Herbst, Graz (2021); MUDAM, Luxembourg (2021) and the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin (2021). In 2021 he was awarded the most important prize for art in Poland – Paszport Polityki. In 2022, Galeria Bielska BWA, Bielsko-Biala will present a solo exhibition of the artist’s work. Sobczak lives and works in Warsaw and Amsterdam.

Opening: 16/10/2022, 12:00 PM

The exhibition is supported by:

The programme of the Kunsthalle Münster ist supported by the Friends of the Kunsthalle Münster.

Accompanying Programme:

11/12/2022, 3:00 pm,

Curator's tour of the exhibition Mikołaj Sobczak. Leibeigene with Merle Radtke

, Kunsthalle Münster

20/01/2023, 6:00 pm,

Guided tour through the exhibition Mikołaj Sobczak. Leibeigene with Constanze Venjakob

, Kunsthalle Münster

22/01/2023, 4:00 pm,

Mikołaj Sobczak + Nicholas Grafia, Peasants

, Kunsthalle Münster

18/10/2022, 6:00 pm,

Talk with Mikołaj Sobczak und Merle Radtke

, Kunsthalle Münster

28/10/2022, 6:00 pm,

Guided tour through the exhibition Mikołaj Sobczak. Leibeigene with Nazaret Díaz Acosta

, Kunsthalle Münster

13/11/2022, 3:00 pm,

Guided tour through the exhibition Mikołaj Sobczak. Leibeigene with Constanze Venjakob

, Kunsthalle Münster