Art & DesignCity Guides

Modern art in old town Kraków

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Kraków is a city that straddles time. Often preceded by its historic reputation, it has a medieval legacy that is buttressed by UNESCO-protected Old Town and centuries-old institutions like the Academy of Fine Arts. But at a closer glance, Old Town is not so “old.”

Modern galleries and trendy bars are interspersed with old façades and homegrown cafés. This melding of opposites is integral to Kraków’s aesthetic identity and is embodied in the design ethos of Hotel Indigo Kraków. Kraków is a buzzing metropolis of vivid life and colour, and nowhere is this truer than in its ever-evolving art scene.

Old Town, New Talent

A good place to get your bearings on the modern art scene in Kraków is at the contemporary galleries. Luckily, there are a few nestled in the cobblestone streets of Old Town, easily walkable from Hotel Indigo. One of the most famous is the Space Gallery, a converted mansion that houses peculiar pastels from the late Jerzy Panek, one of the city’s most well-known painters. Peek upstairs for 19th- and 20th-century masterpieces, then head to the second floor for a rotating display of fresh creations from contemporary local artists.

If you’re looking for something a little more laid back, visit the Pauza Gallery and Bar. Grab a pint downstairs, then head up to the gallery space, which focuses on the idea of communication through videos, graphics, and sculptures. Pauza is currently displaying the work of Paul Fabjanski, which explores the nexus of art and commerce.

Snapshots through time

A favoured medium among many Polish artists is photography. Fans of snaps flock to Kraków’s Photo Fringe Festival every year in late spring to explore more than 100 exhibitions scattered across the city. Recently, several photographers have chosen to use the city as their model. Some have highlighted architectural changes over time while others have chosen to capture ancient statues in new ways. One notable exhibition was Zbigniew Makowski’s “The Alchemy of Light,” which visually transformed marble figures simply by playing with light and shadow.

The Bunkier | Photo by: Dara Bramson

For an assuredly thought-provoking afternoon, visit The Bunkier, starting controversy since 1965. This gallery prides itself in displaying experimental exhibitions that always spark a little healthy debate. Even the space is an oxymoron: a jarring concrete façade enclosing a cosy café and garden.

Day at the Museum

Seeing some of Kraków’s best art can be as easy as taking a walk. There are myriad galleries and street murals to delight and surprise. But if you’re looking for more traditional ways to admire local and international talent, stop by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Kraków. Currently on display is “The Tree of Knowledge,” a video by Oskar Dawicki that features a tree with figures representing Adam and Eve.

At first glance, the stark contrast between Kraków’s preserved historic buildings and innovative modern art scene suggest disjuncture. But in reality, there is a beautiful harmony between the two opposites.

If you need a break from your city-wide tour of art, stop into the lobby and experience a true melting pot of old and new. Hotel Indigo’s central location brings together people from all walks of life to create a contradictory, yet balanced atmosphere—in the true spirit of Kraków.

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