Art installations on the streets of Warsaw

Anna Kowalska | Live the World

November 23, 2022

When it comes to the Polish art scene, Warsaw is one of the most lively cities. It abounds in multiple installations and murals scattered around the public spaces. Sometimes, they grow so vigorously into the city's identity, that one tends to stop noticing them anymore. Here's a story on three extraordinary pieces of art, created on the streets of Warsaw.

Palm tree in the middle of the street

Already a part of Warsovian landscape, the palm tree stands on the Charles de Gaulle's Roundabout since 2002. Many might not know, but it is an artistic installation called 'Greetings from Jerusalem Avenues'. As you may have guessed, Poland doesn't have an appropriate climate for growing palm trees; thus, this one had to be made artificially. The sculpture was located in the middle of one of the biggest traffic arteries in the capital (the Jerusalem Alley) and directly refers to the name of the street. 'Jerusalem' reminds of Warsaw's multicultural past where, before the Second World War, the Jewish community represented 30% of the society. They were mainly inhabiting the district towards the west from the roundabout. Polish artist, *Joanna Rajkowska*, after her travel to Israel, decided to create this symbolic installation, subtly bringing back the memories of the vanished part of the Warsovian community.

Soon, the tree became one of the symbols of Warsaw and an essential spot on the map of the capital. It plays a vital role in the social life of the city - during various strikes and marches, the protesters decorate it accordingly. The palm tree also serves as an easily recognizable meeting place. Recently, to tackle the problem of climate change, the green parts of the palm tree were changed into blasted leaves.

Fizzy neons

Another interesting piece to see is a lively neon show by the banks of the River Vistula. 'Lightspurt' ('Światłotrysk') is a work by Maurycy Gomulicki, a Polish contemporary multimedia artist. It is a 17-meter-tall neon that represents a glass of fizzy lemonade, in which the bubbles move rhythmically. Located between the blocks of flats and a busy street, the installation is a joyful accent in a dull landscape. The work is meant to represent the happiness of the moment and would definitely make anyone smile!

Rainbows in the city

The rainbow is an important symbol for Warsaw. Until 2015, one of the iconic views of the Savior Square was a colorful arch stretching out over a roundabout, that, again, was an artistic creation. During 2011-2012, the 'Rainbow' by Julita Wójcik was displayed in front of the European Parliament in Brussels, after which it was transported to Warsaw. Unfortunately, is was vandalized multiple times and finally dismantled a few years ago. Hopefully one day, it will come back to be a part of Warsaw's landscape as a symbol of tolerance.

©Wikimedia Commons/Adrian Grycuk

However, another rainbow emerged in the center of Warsaw recently. This time placed in front of the National Art Gallery, Zachęta, it took a slightly different form. The 'Simple rainbow' ('Prosta tęcza') by *Marek Sobczyk* has an angular shape and resembles a picture frame that one can look through while looking at the building of the Art Gallery. Sobczyk's work is a gift to everyone and is supposed to open a dialogue about the state my country is in right now. The work came back to its place after 28 years, when the artist created it for an exhibition about Polish spiritual life. It is another artistic intervention that brings color and joy to the gray metropolis.

© Anna Kowalska

These are only a few of the most exciting art installations that can be found on the streets of Warsaw. Usually merging with the city landscape, they are an important part of the capital's identity and play vital roles in the lives of the locals. Art is in many streets of Warsaw; you just need to look for it!

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