exhibition

Paulina Olowska: Au Bonheur des Dames
21 Sep 2013 - 27 Jan 2014

This fall, the first museum exhibition by artist Paulina Olowska (b. Gdansk, Poland, 1976), one of the most fascinating artists of her generation, will open at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.

The large gallery presents paintings, collages, and neon works in a theatrical setting. Two adjacent gallery spaces are devoted to the project Café Bar (2011) and the series Accidental Collages.Olowska created this series for the exhibition Time and Again at the Stedelijk Museum CS in 2004, inspired by a group of 22 large educational charts by Kazimir Malevich in the collection of the Stedelijk. In Accidental Collages, recently acquired by the Stedelijk Museum, the artist combined photos of herself and her friends with historical visual material, featuring artworks, architecture and fashion (magazines).

“By creating connections between fashion, art, and feminism, and proposing alternatives to the roles that visual art and design can play within our society, Olowska is a unique voice in contemporary art.” (Leontine Coelewij, curator of the exhibition)

The title of the exhibition, Au Bonheur des Dames (The Ladies’ Paradise / The Ladies’ Delight), refers to what the artist calls ‘different aspects of the female consumer.’ The title is taken from Émile Zola’s novel, which describes 19th-century Paris and the first wave and subsequent expansion of luxury department stores. In this installation, Olowska suggests women as figures both targeted and implicated in multiple angles of commodity culture—the spectacle of fashion, the seduction of extravagant displays and visual advertising, the leisure experience of merely parading through town. In her critique, Paulina Olowska compares 1960s Eastern European consumerism with the theme of the book.

Mick la Rock (l) and Paulina Olowska at work at the exhibition Au Bonheur Des Dames
Mick la Rock (l) and Paulina Olowska at work at the exhibition Au Bonheur Des Dames

Mick la Rock

Olowska invited Amsterdam artist Mick la Rock to create a work of graffiti as a backdrop for her installation. One of the first female graffiti artists in Europe, la Rock has been active on the scene since 1983. The title piece, Au Bonheur des Dames, was executed in her signature style, developed during the early 1980s, and combines the tags of Kazimir Malevich, Émile Zola, with various female graffiti artists and groups. Collaboration with other artists (such as Bonnie Camplin, Lucy McKenzie, and Frances Stark) is at the heart of Olowska’s artistic practice. Collaboration with other artists (such as Bonnie Camplin, Lucy McKenzie, and Frances Stark) is at the heart of Olowska’s artistic practice.

The exhibition is curated by Leontine Coelewij, in close consultation with the artist. The exhibition will travel to Zachęta–National Gallery of Art, Warsaw, early next year.

Biography

Paulina Olowska grew up in Poland in a time of great political, economic, and cultural upheaval. For several years, she studied in the United States (at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago), followed by the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam. Olowska’s work debuted in the Netherlands at the Stedelijk Museum Post CS in the 2004 group exhibition Time and Again.

Publications

A monograph devoted Olowska’s work, with an overview of her oeuvre, an interview with Adam Szymczyk, and an essay by Jan Verwoert, was released in June 2013 (Zurich: JRP│Ringier, English language, 168 pp., retail price € 50, ISBN: 978-3-03764-287-0).