Outlook: No Return features works of 16 Polish artists who reflect the diverse make-up of pre-war Poland’s population, including Europe’s largest Jewish community.
The exhibition – featuring, among others, Jankel Adler, Josef Herman, Feliks Topolski, Stanislaw Frenkiel and Raya Herzig – tells their post-war stories and explores their feeling of unbearable and inexplicable loss following the occupation of Poland, the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe, and the Holocaust that changed their lives forever.
While often naturalised as British citizens and recognised for their extraordinary talent and contribution to British culture, these refugee artists remained seen as outsiders coming from a ‘far away country of which we know little’.
Britain was a country they did not expect to be their new home, and as they were settling in the new reality, they were faced with nostalgia and longing for their old, now-gone existence without any possibility of fulfilment.
At the time of Britain’s gravest political crisis and rapidly shifting attitudes towards migration to Britain, this exhibition is a forceful and compelling defence of openness and tolerance and a testament to the benefits of cultural exchange – even in the darkest of times.
Joanna Ciechanowska, the head of POSK Gallery and the curator of Outlook: No Return said:
These artists went beyond themselves to explore their sense of real pain, loss, and longing for the old world, typical for refugees navigating a new, tricky reality around them and hoping to find a place to settle after the horrors of war.
These are raw and honest takes on the most difficult moments of their lives, where they were trying to make sense of the drama that changed Poland, Britain and the world forever.
The exhibition is part of the Insiders/Outsiders Festival and is organised in cooperation with the Ben Uri Gallery & Museum. POSK is extremely grateful to Ben Uri for the loan of works from their collection to complement those we are showing from our own.
Full list of artists: Jankiel Adler, Janina Baranowska, Shmuel Dresner, Stanisław Frenkiel, Martha Hekimi, Josef Herman, Raya Herzig, Josef Karpf, Alicia Melamed-Adams, Chana Kowalska, Feliks Topolski, Zygmunt Turkiewicz, Romek Marber, Adam Muszka, Enrico Glicenstein, Marek Żuławski