“Oil on canvas” is the common term for a popular pain­ting tech­nique, but the phrase might equally well apply to a greasy stain on a skirt or a pair of trousers. The show Od pod­szewki. Soft Mat­ters looks at the under­side of pain­tings and uncovers the for­got­ten, physical and utilitarian quality of canvas and its original func­tion as fabric, material for making clothing. The reference to fabric alludes both to the body and to non-​painting tech­niques of for­ming an image, through sewing, draping, stret­ching, cut­ting, appliqué. In the exhibition we show the latest works by women artists from Poland, Ukraine and the United States, most prepared especially for this occasion. Together they tell a soft-​bound tale, body-​hugging and cut from life.


An epic image by Karolina Jabłońska depicts por­tions of women’s clothing strewn about on the heavy March snow covering the Błonia fields in Kraków. The drama of this image conveys an ambivalent strain. The scat­tered clothing and per­sonal items may con­stitute the traces of a macabre crime, but could also be a metaphor for escape, casting off the uniform of everyday duties, limitations, social and cul­tural demands.


Clothes are literally trans­for­med into images in the works of Małgorzata Mirga-​Tas. Her fascinating, large-​scale pat­chworks are for­mally rich, while rooted in the Roma cul­tural universe and everyday, almost ritual, creative hustle and bustle. The protagonists are women, the artist’s immediate family and her­self, and the material is often clothing, sheets or tablec­loths of her own or col­lec­ted from family and friends.


In the moul­ded works by Emilia Kina, canvas imposes the shape and con­tent. With illusionist finesse, these images present cur­tains and screens, and essen­tially become them. Kina fol­lows this seduc­tive sug­gestion deeper, polemicizing with the voyeuristic nature of pain­ting. Her pic­tures toy with the lure of vision and play off ideally on the border between the object and its represen­tation, between the presen­tation and the cur­tain par­titioning it off.


Skin­for­mer by Aneta Grzeszykow­ska offers a radical elaboration of ear­lier soft sculp­tural objects created by the artist, a phenomenal view into the separate existen­tial universe created by her. The work, in the form of a relief tailored from black leather, is a spiritual echo of children’s car­nival games, clothed in a distur­bing, fetishistic costume. It over­steps the safe boun­dary of the flat image and shocks with its carnal power.


Michelle Raw­lings’ new images are a pain­terly proces­sing of a specific field of visual cul­ture, con­tem­porary fashion photography and out­fits alluding to historical clichés of gir­lish­ness. Raw­lings employs clas­sic pain­ting tech­niques to give these images a new specific gravity and emotional weight.


Zina Isupova employs the tech­nique of paper appliqué, popular in social moder­nist schools and preschools, used for decorations to mark special occasions and in arts and crafts exer­cises. From colour­ful paper and card­stock, Isupova cuts out lapidary com­positions based on a keen observation of post-​Soviet everyday life and its parapher­nalia. The paper world she creates seems cap­tivatin­gly real, familiar and close. At the same time, it is like a stage set—makeshift and cheap at the material level, as fleeting as shadow play.

Exhibitions 2021


28.05.2021 – 10.07.2021

Aneta Grzeszykowska, Zina Isupova, Karolina Jabłońska, Emilia Kina, Małgorzata Mirga-Tas, Michelle Rawlings