Warszawska 24, 31-155 Kraków, Kraków, Poland
Tadeusz Kościuszko University of Technology
Plac Matejki 13, 31-157 Kraków, Kraków, Poland
Jan Matejko Academy of Fine Arts
Wilhelm Sasnal together with his wife Anka
In 1992, Sasnal enrolled at the Tadeusz Kosciuszko University of Technology in Kraków, where he studied architecture for two years. Some time later, he entered Jan Matejko Academy of Fine Arts to study painting. Wilhelm graduated from the Academy in 1999.
In 1995, Sasnal helped to organize Ladnie Group and exhibited together with the collective until 2000. Named after the Polish word meaning "pretty" or "nice", the members made paintings of their contemporary, often banal surroundings, using a deskilled aesthetics, that countered the style, valued by their instructors.
After finishing studies in 1999, the painter worked briefly for advertising companies in Krakow, while also making paintings, graphic novels, photographs and films.
In 2001, he completed a graphic novel "Zycie codzienne w polsce w latach 1999-2001" (Everyday Life in Poland Between 1999 and 2001). Following this project, Sasnal regularly contributed a comic strip to the Polish weekly newspaper "Przekroj".
In 2003, the painter held his first solo exhibition in New York at Anton Kern Gallery. The following year, Sasnal made a series of abstract, almost psychodelic drawings, based on the comic books of Tytus, Romek and A'Tomek, popular among Polish children across generations.
In 2008, Sasnal finished his first feature-length 35 mm film, Swineherd (Świniopas), based on the Hans Christian Andersen fable of the same name. In 2010, he completed his second feature film, Fallout (Opad).
Sasnal has participated in numerous major group exhibitions worldwide, including the Tirana Biennial in Albania (2001), Gwangju Biennial in South Korea (2002), Prague Biennial (2005), Glasgow International (2008), Turin Triennial in Italy (2008) and others.
"There wasn’t a special moment I changed the way I work, so I see the whole process as an evolution. During the last 10 years of my practice, I see probably a couple of periods, but they are not properly divided for me. For sure there was a moment after finishing study that I was afraid of painting in pastel. I tried to draw rather than paint - to draw with the oil on canvas. At that time I didn’t attend museums, I didn’t want to look at old masters and probably it took me 2-3 years until I felt free of this hang-up, this post-school hangover. I was also fed up and tired of being labelled as a pop artist — someone, who used this pop language or pop reality."
"I wanted to put myself in a confrontational position to face it, to face what was also controversial for myself. I didn’t like it. I didn’t want to hear that I came from the nation that was not only a victim. That was painful and difficult for me. What I painted was reaction."
Wilhelm has a consistent interest in the social and political history, that informs Polish culture, especially film and music, and has explored his country's experience of the Holocaust in several pieces.
Wilhelm is married to Anka Sasnal, a filmmaker. They have one child — Kacper Sasnal.