The Opening

To mark the opening of the 2023 TOP CHARITY Grand Charity Auction Exhibition, Omenaa Mensah brings a Spanish Queen to Poland!
Through the dedicated efforts of the newly established OmenaArt Foundation, one of the most enchanting Spanish sculptures, the famed Reina Mariana by Spanish artist Manolo Valdés, has been brought to the official opening of the exhibition. This marks the first opportunity for the Polish public to appreciate the work of this artist, whose creations have graced numerous public and private collections in Paris, Barcelona, New York, and the Venice Biennale among many others. All of this is in pursuit of a noble cause, as the assembled works are set to be auctioned on June 3rd as part of the Grand Charity Auction, TOP CHARITY 2023. This philanthropic initiative, the most prominent in Poland, connects the worlds of big business, artists, and generous-hearted individuals. The exhibition opening drew a crowd of luminaries from the worlds of art and business, along with a sprinkling of celebrities. Among Omenaa Mensah’s distinguished guests were Grażyna Kulczyk, Joanna Przetakiewicz, Rinke Rooyens, Małgorzata Foremniak, Katarzyna Sokołowska, Artur Kozieja, Małgorzata Socha, Barbara Kurdej-Szatan, Rafał Szatan, Katarzyna Zielińska accompanied by Wojciech Domański, and Łukasz Jemioł.

Polish art historian Hanna Wróblewska, commissioner of the Polonia Pavilion at the Venice Biennale and Deputy Director for Research and Exhibition Programming, serves as the exhibition curator. Here’s her take on the exhibition:

“The inaugural exhibition of the OmenaArt Foundation is hosted in the Orangery at King Jan III’s Wilanów Palace, a structure nearly three centuries old, originally intended for ‘storing citrus plants during winter.’ This site is not only a visual delight in its own right but also an apt metaphor for the newly formed institution, whose mission is to safeguard what is precious, ephemeral, beautiful, fragile, and essential, even in the harshest of winters – both literal and figurative.

Housed within the Orangery are the works of a diverse group of artists spanning different generations, backgrounds, and segments of the art scene, showcased across various media including sculpture, painting, graphic arts, and installations. These pieces serve as a commentary on the world around us and within us. Their form draws attention, but their content and message are equally significant. Some of these pieces, donated to the charity auction by the artists or collectors themselves, will soon find new places for exhibition. Others, loaned by artists or institutions solely for this event, will return to their owners. Art exists in relation to people. It exists for people, even though it sometimes overwhelms or even frightens them. It’s possible, and indeed valuable, to own a painting, sculpture, or installation. But sometimes, that’s merely a stepping stone towards seeing, understanding, and loving what in art cannot simply be possessed,” Hanna Wróblewska muses about the Grand Charity Auction Exhibition.

The artistic quality and selection of the exhibition were meticulously overseen by the Foundation Artistic Council, comprised of esteemed experts: the aforementioned Hanna Wróblewska, Iwona Büchner-Grzesiak, Kama Zboralska, Boris Kudlička, Mark Sagona, Dr. Maciej Aleksandrowicz, Rafał Kamecki, and Tomek Rygalik

The OmenaArt Foundation oversees all artistic projects carried out by the Omenaa Foundation and the Rafał Brzoska Foundation, acting as a launchpad for their philanthropic activities. The ideals represented by the Foundation are based on four pillars: art that is intrinsically linked to a mission of aid, encapsulating architecture, design, and a holistic approach to their ultimate purpose. It’s about cultivating a meticulously curated collection of sculptures, spatial forms, and installations from a diverse range of Polish and international artists. A significant facet of the work carried out by the Foundation is revitalization and preservation of historic buildings, involving intricate processes of renewal intertwined with cutting-edge technologies and innovation, all while maintaining a deep respect for architectural heritage and cultural legacy. Finally, there’s eco-art, a global trend that combines art, education, and environmental stewardship.

“I firmly believe that this exhibition will inspire a deeper respect for artists and the world of art,” says the visionary behind the exhibition, Omenaa Mensah. “We’ve spent the past ten months tirelessly working to secure unique art pieces crafted by distinguished artists from Poland and around the globe. And we have succeeded! I’m incredibly proud that we’ve managed to introduce the monumental sculpture Reina Mariana by Manolo Valdés to our country for the first time, a piece inspired by Diego Velázquez’s renowned painting, ‘Queen Maria Anna of Austria’. I’m also confident that the calibre of all other works, coupled with the attendance of esteemed guests, will lead to an outstanding outcome for the Grand Charity Auction.”

The exhibition featured works by Korean artist Chun Kwang Young and Ghana’s own Patrick Tagoe-Turkson, both presented in Poland for the first time. Moreover, visitors were treated to the works of Igor Mitoraj and Magdalena Abakanowicz, including two outdoor sculptures graciously provided by the Polish Sculpture Center in Orońsko.

The donors who contributed their artworks to the Grand Charity Auction TOP CHARITY 2023 included Angelika Markul, Maria Papa-Rostkowska, Janina Wierusz-Kowalska, Rafał Bujnowski, Piotr Czajkowski, Tomasz Górnicki, Michał Jackowski, Łukasz Patelczyk, Zbigniew Rogalski, Xawery Wolski, Nikola Vudrag, and Cyryl Zakrzewski. Exhibits in the Orangery also featured a piece from Marek and Agnieszka Roefler’s collection, along with other artworks secured through the generosity of private collectors and institutions working closely with Omenaa Mensah and the Foundation.

The design of the Grand Charity Auction Exhibition halls was supervised by the acclaimed set designer Boris Kudlička, globally recognized for his spectacular opera set designs, including Madame Butterfly, King Roger, Turandot, Death in Venice, and King Lear. He has enjoyed successful partnerships with leading opera theatres and festivals worldwide, from the Metropolitan Opera in New York and the Royal Opera House in London to the Royal Opera in Stockholm and Copenhagen.

The exhibition featured the following works of art to be auctioned on June 3rd during the Grand Charity Auction:

  • Magdalena Abakanowicz – from the Anonymous Portraits cycle
  • Maria Papa-Rostkowska – Knight
  • Igor Mitoraj – Helios 1988
  • Xawery Wolski – Links of Infinity E
  • Angelika Markul – untitled from the 7306 Days cycle
  • Michał Jackowski – Hope
  • Rafał Bujnowski – from the Tourists 1/8 cycle
  • Zbigniew Rogalski – Myriam Boulos Collection 2
  • Łukasz Patelczyk – Flying Terra Rossa Glass
  • Janina Wierusz-Kowalska – Liberta
  • Piotr Czajkowski – Palace Royal Metro
  • Nikola Vudrag – Iron Maiden
  • Cyryl Zakrzewski – Nexus lamp + Flow chair
  • Gift from Agnieszka and Marek Roefler – two Le Grand Comfort LC2 armchairs

At last year’s Great Charity Auction, an impressive sum of 4,290,000 PLN was raised, setting a record for the largest amount ever collected at a charitable art auction in Poland. The organisers,Omenaa Mensah, along with Corporate Connections and various other business organisations are optimistic that this year’s auction will surpass last year’s record. Let’s keep our fingers crossed!

Additionally, we have set out to establish a Philanthropic Consortium. This collaborative initiative aims to unite proactive individuals by combining their knowledge and efforts for collective action. Foundations present at the June 3rd event will be eligible to join the Consortium. To emphasise the importance of unity over division and competition in philanthropy and charitable endeavours, 30% of the proceeds from the auction will be allocated to the Consortium.

Moreover, an online auction will be organised featuring the following pieces:

  • Julia Medyńska – La Reina
  • Anna Zalewska – Whisper to Stop Time
  • Łukasz Zbroja – Self-portrait
  • Krzysztof Renes – Hyperlight Observer
  • Agnieszka Rowińska – Old Truth New Light
  • Marcin Jasik – Untitled
  • Patrick Tagoe-Turkson – Menyankoba Basia (My friends’ Daughter) 4
  • Olga Mazur – Untitled
  • Katarzyna Kukuła – Dahlia’s Gaze
  • Marek Bimer – Hommage à Niki de Saint Phalle
  • Jerzy Baranowski – Untitled

During the Grand Charity Auction Exhibition, visitors had the opportunity to admire additional artworks on display:

  • Manolo Valdés – Reina Mariana
  • Chun Kwang-Young – Aggregation 15-AU044, Aggregation 18 MA022
  • Xawery Wolski – Uprising
  • Magdalena Abakanowicz – Figure with Open Arms
  • Maria Papa-Rostkowska – Alba
  • Angelika Markul – untitled from the Tierra del Fuego cycle
  • Michał Jackowski – Empty Gold Man, Empty Gold Man Black
  • Łukasz Patelczyk – Broken Wand IV (ink), The Tear
  • Rafał Bujnowski – two works from the Tourists cycle
  • Zbigniew Rogalski – Collection (Edward Weston)
  • Piotr Czajkowski – PIAF
  • Janina Wierusz-Kowalska – Absalom, Absalom

The Grand Charity Auction is accompanied by a supplementary photo exhibition by Marcin Suder, titled “Emotional Sublimation,”. It can be viewed until May 30th in front of Wilanów Palace. After this date, Marcin Suder’s exhibition will relocate to the public space near the Wilanów Municipal Office in Warsaw, located on Klimczaka Street.

“Emotional Sublimation” was born from Suder’s heartfelt desire to expose the daily struggles of children in Poland, Ghana, and Ukraine. His collaboration with the Omenaa Foundation offered him profound insights into these three distinct worlds, each grappling with significant challenges. For years, we’ve supported the most vulnerable children, including those from Polish orphanages or foster families, children of the streets in Ghana, and children from Ukraine who, along with their mothers, were forced to flee their war-ravaged homeland.

Our mission has always centred on education, often seen as the only avenue to transform the lives of these young individuals and provide them a semblance of normalcy. We are steadfast in our commitment to alleviating children’s suffering. Thus, the Omenaa Foundation also funds initiatives that raise public awareness about the realities these children face and the daily struggles they endure.

The outcome of these efforts is evident in the emotionally powerful and beautiful photographs by Marcin Suder, who has unflinchingly captured the grim reality these children face, without any filter.

Marcin Suder is a renowned photographer and photojournalist. He spent many years working with the Corbis agency and has collaborated with non-governmental organisations such as UNICEF, UNDP, and PAH. His photojournalism has spanned over a hundred countries and has been featured in leading international publications. He is an individual of remarkable sensitivity and courage. However, he believes that anyone choosing this profession must be ready to confront the risks it entails.

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