Within Paulina Olowska’s practice, industry, leisure, and socialist symbolism occupy the same visual and cultural space. Her realist paintings, drawings, and collages borrow imagery from Eastern European and American popular culture creating a cross cultural reference that is evident throughout her practice, whilst engaging with the concepts of consumerism, feminism, and design. The outward appearance of Olowska’s female subjects is equally as important as the historical memories interwoven seamlessly throughout her collages and paintings. Olowska’s treatment of her subject’s materialization acts as a direct display of the spirit of the individual, which is likely to be contrasted against a uniformed surrounding reminiscent of life experienced behind the iron curtain.
Olowska’s affinity with performance based art accounts for much of her appreciation. Most notably is Alphabet (2005), her adaptation of Czech designer Karel Teige’s typographic book ABECEDA. Presented at MoMA in 2012, performers mould their bodies to affix the letters of the alphabet, forgetting conventional forms to construct a new system of meaning. At the heart of Olowska’s artistic practice is her collaborative work, lending a platform to her contemporaries who are underrepresented. Demonstrating the disjunction of time and cultural impermeability of Eastern Europe, Olowska’s multi-faceted oeuvre establishes a dialogue with the past; she calls upon forms recognizable from multiple collective histories of modernism to adhere with an invented contemporary environment.

Paulina Olowska
(born 1976) is a Polish artist who lives and works in Rabka-Zdroj, Poland. She is known for her paintings, sculptures, performances, and collages, most of which are inspired by remembrance and nostalgia. She studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago(1996), Fine Arts Academy in Gdańsk (2000), and the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam.

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