Paulina Olowska

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Paulina Olowska
Crossword puzzle with lady in black coat.jpg
Crossword puzzle with lady in black coat, 2009. Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.
Known forPainting, Collage, Sculpture, Neon, performance art
Notable work
Cafe Bar (2011), Accidental Collages (2004)

Paulina Olowska (born 1976) is a Polish artist who lives and works in Rabka-Zdroj, Poland.[citation needed] She is known for her paintings, sculptures, performances, and collages, most of which are inspired by remembrance and nostalgia.[2] She studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (1996), Fine Arts Academy in Gdańsk (2000), and the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam.[1][3]

Early life and education[edit]

Olowska was born in 1976 in Gdańsk, Poland. Olowska's father was a speechwriter for the Solidarity movement and its leader, Lech Walesa. He later moved to the United States as a political refugee. The rest of his family joined him by 1985.[2]

Before Paulina left for the United States, a classmate told her to visit the American restaurant that had playgrounds and served little chickens served to children. The restaurant turned out to be McDonald's and it was Olowska's introduction to how marketing could create certain feelings based on the aesthetic choices made by companies, such as the shiny colors of McDonald's, the marketing of Rainbow Brite, Jem, and the Cabbage Patch Kids, and the “fluffy tops of hamburgers." After just a year in the United States, Olowska's parents divorced. She subsequently moved back to Poland where she came to adolescence amid a swell of underground culture in the early 1990s. This eventually led her to attend art school, first at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and later at the Fine Arts Academy in Gdańsk.[2]


Paulina Ołowska, Constructivist Rockabilly Boots (Buty Konstruktywistyczne typu Rockabilly), 2000

Olowska works with a range of media, including painting, sculpture, and collage. Often, her works incorporate pop art, graffiti, and Soviet propaganda.[3] For instance, her sculpture works reference 1930s country-style villas that resemble haunted houses. In addition, some of her larger paintings make reference to women's fashion from the 1980s as well as the non-urban setting of her home and studio in Poland. "I describe sometimes what I do as working with the leftovers or dusty aesthetics. They don’t need to be dusty because they’re old, but they’re kind of not really in the center. So minor kinds of aesthetics, and I try to renegotiate them on the platform of art.”[2]

Her works have been exhibited at the 50th Venice Biennale (2003), the Stedelijk Museum's 2004 exhibit, Time and Again,[1] the 9th Istanbul Biennial (2005) and the 5th Berlin Biennale (2008). In 2010 she had a solo show at the Glasgow Tramway and another in 2011 at the New York Museum of Modern Art.[4] In 2013 she collaborated with Mick la Rock to create the backdrop for her exhibit, Au Bonheur des Dames at the Stedelijk.[1] Olowska produced a live production of Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz's (Witkacy) The Mother at the Tate Modern Realist Gallery in 2015.[5] Her latests body of work, Wisteria, Mysteria, Hysteria, will coincide with a performance piece at The Kitchen in January 2016, in which she will paint the set and design costumes for “a form of ballet” in collaboration with composer Sergei Tcherepnin and choreographer Katy Pyle, the artistic director of Ballez.[2]

Olowska also hosts a summer festival called Mycorial Theater. The festival includes art installations and performances, tarot card readings, lectures on fermentation, and outings organized around the traditional Polish pastime of mushroom hunting.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Paulina Olowska: Au Bonheur des Dames, 21 Sep 2013 - 27 Jan 2014". Stedelijk Museum. Retrieved 2014-01-01.
  2. ^ a b c d e Witt, Emily (2016-09-22). "Poland's Most Optimistic, Backward-Looking Artist". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-11-10.
  3. ^ a b "Paulina Ołowska: Painter, photographer and filmmaker". Retrieved 2014-01-01.
  4. ^ "Paulina Olowska". Carnegie Museum of Art. Retrieved 2014-01-01.
  5. ^ Tate. "BMW Tate Live: Paulina Olowska: 'The Mother An Unsavoury Play in Two Acts and an Epilogue' – Performance at Tate Modern | Tate". Tate. Retrieved 2018-09-23.