I have a thing for Poland.
The first (but not the last) time I went there was in the dead of winter, six years ago. From Prague, I boarded an overnight bus destined for Minsk. I, however, would disembark halfway in Łódź, the Polish city whose post-industrial desolation had so charmed David Lynch, he decided to film much of his movie “Inland Empire” there. The Belarussian tin box on wheels broke down repeatedly along the way, leaving us temporarily stranded in the middle of a forest while the driver descended into a hatch below the aisle, tools in hand. After some time poking around in the hot, oily underbelly of the bus, he’d emerge and we’d be on our way again, serenaded by the finest Eurotrash techno. By the time we arrived in Łódź, hours behind schedule, it was after midnight, and a cold January rain was falling. I walked the dark wet streets to my hostel, where I would be the only guest for my entire stay.
By day, I walked the ruined, pitted streets of Łódź, hunting down “Inland Empire” sites like only a Lynch groupie would. What I found were abandoned buildings, abandoned factories, abandoned houses. I didn’t talk to anyone for days. I remembered what Lynch said about Łódź in an interview: “It has beautiful winter light, low-hanging grey clouds. The architecture and factories and leafless trees—it’s beautiful.” I shivered; I ate pierogies and poppy seed pastries; I watched the rain fall and the puddles grow. I loved it.
I have a thing for Poland. So when settling in to my new apartment these last months, I knew I would have to pay a visit to the very special Pigasus Polish Poster Gallery on Danziger Straße in Prenzlauer Berg, a repository of beautiful vintage and contemporary Polish poster art. Poster design has a long tradition in Poland, and after WWII in particular, political conditions led to the development of a style of poster art known as the Polish Poster School. State-commissioned posters for films, theaters, operas, and circuses were basically the only allowed forms of creative expression, which meant that for generations, a nation’s worth of talented artists poured heart and soul into posters. The MoMA has held an exhibition of this era’s best works—click here to see the highlights.
Pigasus is part gallery, part shop. Owner Joanna has been collecting Polish posters for decades and has lost count as to how big her collection is, but it’s well into the thousands. It took me, quite literally, weeks to make up my mind. Set aside plenty of time to browse when visiting the shop, or do as I did and look through the vast offerings online first.
For my kitchen, I chose a poster for the 1987 American movie “Black Widow” as well as one for the 1986 Polish film “Chrześniak.” I love them. Because in addition to having a thing for Poland, I apparently have a thing for the ’80s.
Pigasus Polish Poster Gallery: Danziger Str. 52 | Open Mon.-Sat. 14.00-19.00 | Website