Within the practice of Paulina Olowska, industry, leisure and socialist symbolism effortlessly occupy the same visual and cultural space.

Olowska’s realist paintings, drawings, ceramics and collages borrow imagery from Eastern European and American popular culture, creating a cross-cultural reference, whilst engaging with the concepts of consumerism, feminism and design.

For Liverpool Biennial 2018, Paulina Olowska created a new mosaic called Grace, Charles and the Sunflower that references the socialist belief that through the creation of a public work one can influence and present optimistic visions of a better world. The work could be seen on the side of the Invisible Wind Factory, located in Liverpool’s north docks.

The artist’s idea was based on a Polish mosaic from the 1960s situated on the side of a public school in the village of Raba Zdroj, where Olowska lives. Despite its history, the mosaic remains unprotected and unmaintained: this kind of popular, public, post-soviet art is no longer favoured by the Polish government and there is a strong possibility that it will be demolished in the future. By presenting a similar mosaic in Liverpool, Olowska championed the value of these works and suggested that they should be protected as part of the country’s national heritage. The main motif in Olowska’s work is a stylised sunflower that contains at its centre a famous image from 1969 by Norman Parkinson: Vogue America’s Creative Director Grace Coddington powdering the nose of Prince Charles at Windsor Castle. In Olowska’s practice, the fashion world is often used to reference major political events and the permeability of culture and society.

Recent exhibitions include San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, USA (2016); Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool, UK (2016); Centre Pompidou, Paris, France (2016); Manifesta 11, Zurich, Switzerland (2016); National Museum of Contemporary Art, Bucharest, Romania (2016); Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany (2015); Tate Modern, London, UK (2015); Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Porto, Portugal (2014); BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, UK (2014); and Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (2013).

Paulina Olowska at Liverpool Biennial 2018

Grace, Charles and the Sunflower, 2018
Mosaic tiles, mesh, render
Commissioned by Liverpool Biennial. Exhibited outside Invisible Wind Factory.