Paulina Olowska

Biography of Paulina Olowska

The emotive artwork of Paulina Olowska, deals with forgotten visual cultures and the power of art to affect change. Incorporating Soviet propaganda, Pop Art and even sometimes Graffiti, she puts “minor kinds of aesthetics” center stage, highlighting their stirring and sometimes tragic beauty.


Paulina Olowska is perhaps best known for her projects that focus on the visual relics found behind the Iron Curtain, especially her artworks that deal with the cultures and voices of Poland lost as a result of the Cold War. Fascinated by Modernism and its artistic utopia, her work often draws from the Bauhaus movement, and the European avant-garde in the early 20th century. She is adept at evoking a sense of those times in her collages and artworks, constructing entire scenarios from the past.


Born in Gdansk, Poland in 1976, Paulina Olowska moved to the United States in 1985 to join her father who had travelled there in 1976 as a political refugee. After a year, however, her parents divorced and the artist moved back to Poland where she joined the underground cultural movement then in full swing. Later she would return to the US to attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago before studying at the Fine Arts Academy in Gdansk.


Although Paulina Olowska has a studio in Krakow, she works mainly in a larger studio located in the countryside. This rural setting has in part inspired her move away, in recent years, from Modernism and utopian urban ideals towards the feminine, historical, and pagan subject matter. She set up the summer festival called the Mycorial Theater, which included installations and performances and often dealt with Polish pastimes. Although highly successful, it is currently on hiatus.


Paulina Olowska artworks have featured in numerous Biennales around the world, including at the Venice Biennale in 2004, the Istanbul Biennial in 2005 and the 5th Berlin Biennale in 2008. She has had major exhibitions at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and at MoMA in New York. Her work features in the permanent collections of the Stedelijk Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw. 

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