Artist Beatifies a Football Thug

Art historian Przemysław Strożek gave one of the most memorable lectures at the Football 150 Conference, surveying the place of football in Polish contemporary art. He shared sophisticated work exploring the world of ultras – the hooligans, the fights between fans that seem to make the game a theater for social conflict in which all the action happens in the stands. As is the case in a lot of countries, in Poland the stands function like wounds – a place of intense emotion, pain, violence. I’m haunted by this painting by Marcin Maciejowski. Misiek (FC Wisła Kraków supporter) (2004) appears to memorialize an infamous hooligan who threw a knife at Italian footballer Dino Baggio during a championship match. Misiek (nickname for Pawel Michalski) was sent to prison for that and other offenses. Maciejowski’s painting is a record of, a comment on how Misiek is revered by fans.

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