Paulina Ołowska at Foksal Gallery Foundation

Artist: Paulina Ołowska

Exhibition title: Amoresques: An Intellectual Cocktail of Female Erotica 

Venue: Foksal Gallery Foundation, Warsaw, Poland

Date: January 26 – March 30, 2018

Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Foksal Gallery Foundation, Warsaw

Amoresques: An Intellectual Cocktail of Female Erotica is Paulina Ołowska’s third solo exhibition at the Foksal Gallery Foundation, not counting the ‘Nova Popularna’ artistic salon, a one-month project she ran with Lucy McKenzie in spring 2003 at Chmielna Street in Warsaw.

The exhibition takes its key inspirations in the work of Maja Berezowska (1898-1978) and the New York-based women’s adult magazine Viva (1973-1980). Already before World War II Berezowska gained recognition as an author of subtle drawings of soft erotic content. Her works were featured in Szpilki, Nowa Kultura, and Przekrój. She also did illustrations for poetry volumes and satirical collections. Published by the Penthouse founder, Bob Guccione, Viva. The International Magazine for Women, as it full title read, was marketed as an adult magazine for women, publishing articles and essays relating to women’s fantasies and their sexuality. From the very beginning, it was criticised as an example of presenting  female sexuality from a male perspective. It also featured art reviews, short literary essays, and interviews with artists and various cultural figures.

Ołowska’s core activity is painting, but she is also an author of performances, photographs, videos, a curator, and an author of numerous actions and projects combining the visual arts with elements of applied art or fashion. A multimedia artist, her works are inspired by stories, publications, and archives. All this enhances the gesture and makes it possible to highlight the many aspects of the subjects that fascinate her.

Within her scope of interest are modernist utopias, Russian constructivism, early 20th-century European avant-gardes, and Pop Art. She also draws inspiration from 1960s and 1970s art. Exploring the aspects that interest her, she places figures that have fallen into oblivion or function at the fringes of the world of art and culture in a contemporary context.

As an exhibition curator, Ołowska, besides her own works, presents marginalised, forgotten artists such as Władysław Hasior or Włodzimierz Wieczorkiewicz, or those who share common fascinations with her, e.g., Cathy Wilkes, Mathilde Rosier, Lucy McKenzie, Rosalind Nashashibi, or Bonnie Camplin.

An interest in female figures in art is a characteristic theme in Ołowska’s practice. Her paintings and collages have harkened back to the work of Pauline Boty or Alina Szapocznikow. Inspired by the Slavic-folkloristic painting of Zofia Stryjeńska, she showed an installation at the 5th Berlin Biennale in 2008 that was a homage to the artist. In 2017, at The Kitchen in New York, working in collaboration with the Ballez dance group and artist Sergei Tcherepnin, she staged a ballet inspired by Stryjeńska’s costume designs for Slavic Idols.

In 2006, as part of the exhibition Painting – Exchange – Neon, working in association with the Foksal Gallery Foundation. Ołowska renovated the Volleyball Player, a neon sign at Plac Konstytucji, designed in 1960 by Jan Mucharski. The sign’s rebirth sparked of interest in Warsaw neon signs and their history, and the Volleyball Player became one of the symbols of the city.

Another important place for Ołowska is Rabka-Zdrój, a prewar spa town in the mountains in southern Poland. In 2015, she opened an ‘art shelter’ at the historical Villa Kadenówka there, where once a year she organises international artist meetings, exhibitions, and site-specific installations. In 2010, inspired by the work of Jerzy Kolecki, founder of the Rabka-based puppet theatre, Rabcio, she created large-format paintings on the theatre building’s façade. Meetings with puppet theatre artists spawned numerous projects and have been a direct inspiration for Pavilionesque, an art-and-theatre periodical published by Ołowska since 2016.

Paulina Ołowska was born in 1976 in Gdańsk. She lives and works in Rabka-Zdrój and Kraków. She holds a BA in Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an MA in Fine Arts from the Gdańsk Academy of Fine Arts. Winner of the Aachen Art Prize in 2014. Her solo exhibitions and artistic projects have been shown at international venues such as The Kitchen, New York (2017), Tate Modern, London, (2015), Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, Aachen (2015), Zachęta, Warszawa, (2014), Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2013), Kunsthalle Basel, Basel (2013), CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco (2010), Camden Arts Centre, London (2009), Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich (2009), or Sammlung Goetz, Munich (2007). She has also been featured in major group exhibitions at, among other venues, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco (2016), Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool (2016), Centre Pompidou, Paris (2016), Manifesta 11, The European Biennial of Contemporary Art, Zurich (2016), Museum der Moderne, Salzburg (2016), Haus der Kunst, Munich (2015), Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead (2014), Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Porto (2014), Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw (2013), Museum of Modern Art, New York (2012), BOZAR Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels (2011), New Museum, New York (2011), KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2010), or the MACBA: Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (2009). Her works are held in prestigious private and public collections, e.g., Tate, London; Sammlung Boros, Berlin; Städtisches Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Muzeum Sztuki Nowoczesnej, Warszawa; Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Porto; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, or MoMA, New York. She was featured in the New York Times List of 28 Creative Geniuses Who Defined Culture in 2016.

Paulina Ołowska, Amoresques: An Intellectual Cocktail of Female Erotica, 2018, exhibition view, Foksal Gallery Foundation, Warsaw

Paulina Ołowska, Amoresques: An Intellectual Cocktail of Female Erotica, 2018, exhibition view, Foksal Gallery Foundation, Warsaw

Paulina Ołowska, Amoresques: An Intellectual Cocktail of Female Erotica, 2018, exhibition view, Foksal Gallery Foundation, Warsaw

Paulina Ołowska, Amoresques: An Intellectual Cocktail of Female Erotica, 2018, exhibition view, Foksal Gallery Foundation, Warsaw

Paulina Ołowska, Amoresques: An Intellectual Cocktail of Female Erotica, 2018, exhibition view, Foksal Gallery Foundation, Warsaw

Paulina Ołowska, Amoresques: An Intellectual Cocktail of Female Erotica, 2018, exhibition view, Foksal Gallery Foundation, Warsaw

Paulina Ołowska, Amoresques: An Intellectual Cocktail of Female Erotica, 2018, exhibition view, Foksal Gallery Foundation, Warsaw

Paulina Ołowska, Amoresques: An Intellectual Cocktail of Female Erotica, 2018, exhibition view, Foksal Gallery Foundation, Warsaw

Paulina Ołowska, Amoresques: An Intellectual Cocktail of Female Erotica, 2018, exhibition view, Foksal Gallery Foundation, Warsaw

Paulina Ołowska, Amoresques: An Intellectual Cocktail of Female Erotica, 2018, exhibition view, Foksal Gallery Foundation, Warsaw

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