I want to explore representations of women in my paintings as figures both targeted and implicated in the multiple angles of commodity culture, the spectacle of fashion, the seduction of extravagant display and visual advertising. One of my biggest sources of inspiration is fashion, and I use fashion because it is a great spring-board to explore other metaphors. The way that the model or represented figure looks allows me to consider other issues such as politics, sociological positions, or to consider the mood that I am feeling inside, which I want to express.
I like the close relationship between performance and painting, I am engaged in both in my work. I don’t think I can exist as only a painter, since all of my work has a relationship to theatricality and performance. I consider painting to be a sort of performance, a performance with oneself in the studio… but the method of painting cannot be fully controlled. When one works with figuration, it’s an immediate reflection of the subject and the painter.
I start my paintings with a sense of abstraction, with just the paint and then I get more and more into detail. I really like the process of painting but I like the extremes of painting as well, so from using a heavy graffiti spray to using delicate pigments to super fine oil painting. In a way, the secret is to underline the beauty of how painting paints itself, working within the subject and working within the psychology of the artist, and then one can be lead into the painting – the painting becomes the medium, the painting becomes the metaphor.
When I choose images for my work I usually spend a long time, and I mean sometimes years, meditating on them. In my studio I have a large collage board where I pin images that stay with me. Sometimes it could be a specific pose or gesture, sometimes a known or unknown figure, that I am attracted to for various reasons. The seduction of the image stays active in my head for such a long time that I think the process of painting becomes a process of me wanting to understand why this image speaks to me so much, as if it is a riddle to decipher.
Film: Barbara Borkala
Film: Barbara Borkala
Born in 1976 in Gdansk, Poland, Paulina Olowska lives and works between Rabka-Zdroj and Krakow, Poland. She received her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL and an MFA from The Academy of Fine Arts, Gdansk, Poland, and was awarded The Aachen Art Prize (2014). Internationally renowned, Olowska’s work has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions and projects, including Simon Lee Gallery, London, UK (2019); Fondazione Furla, Museo del Novecento, Milan, Italy (2018); The Kitchen, New York, NY (2017); Tate Modern, London, UK (2015); Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, Aachen, Germany (2015); Zachęta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw, Poland (2014); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands (2013); Kunsthalle Basel, Basel, Switzerland (2013); CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco, CA (2010) and the Camden Arts Centre, London, UK (2009). Major group exhibitions include the National Gallery of Art, Warsaw, Poland (2019); Liverpool Biennial, Liverpool, UK (2018); San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA (2016); Centre Pompidou, Paris, France (2016); Museum der Moderne, Salzburg, Austria (2016); Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany (2015); Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, UK (2014); Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Porto, Portugal (2014); Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY (2012) and the New Museum, New York, NY (2011). Her work belongs to major private and public collections including Tate, London, UK; Sammlung Boros, Berlin, Germany; Städtisches Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach, Germany; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands; Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw, Poland; Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Porto, Portugal; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA and the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY. Later in 2020, Olowska will participate in the 7th Biennale Ghardëina, Ortisei, Italy; in 2021, she will perform at the Art Institute of Chicago, IL and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN.