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Polish Painter Aleksandra Waliszewska Is Fascinated by Slavic Vampire Folklore. Just Don’t Call Her a Witch

6 min read
Polish Painter Aleksandra Waliszewska Is Fascinated by Slavic Vampire Folklore. Just Don’t Call Her a Witch

Polish artist Aleksandra Waliszewska’s muse was, for quite a few a long time, her inexperienced-eyed cat, Mitusia. Mitusia, who experienced a serene disposition, died final year, but her likeness lives on in dozens of Waliszewska’s paintings and gouaches in a spectrum of guises: smoking cigarettes, writhing like a snake, even posing as a product. 

These visions are variously beguiling, unsettling, and darkly amusing—and provide a speedy introduction to Waliszewska’s distinct insights and interests. The artist, who was born in Warsaw in 1976, exactly where she carries on to are living and perform, has cultivated an enigmatic fashion, combining Medieval hellscapes and Gothic passionate themes à la Mary Shelley with the bloody outlandishness of horror movies. Mitusia is not the only recurring picture: there are also humanoid goats and horses, creepy, carved-out faces, mutant spider-gals, and a variety of disquieting nocturnal tableaux.

Polish Painter Aleksandra Waliszewska Is Fascinated by Slavic Vampire Folklore. Just Don’t Call Her a Witch

Aleksandra Waliszewska, Untitled (Mitusia). Courtesy of the artist.

The perform has garnered quite a few admirers. (Waliszewska has around 115 thousand followers on Instagram). Among the these is Susie Cave, the vogue designer and founder of the Vampire’s Wife style label. In a web site put up, Cave wrote: “​I never consider in all my time I have witnessed these types of a continually terrifying vision of the subconscious planet. Aleksandra reaches into some darkish subterranean elemental area in which all items come about, forbidden and beautiful the two.” 

Recently, Waliszewska collaborated with the Vampire’s Wife, on tee-shirts to be launched on every entire moon in a tribute to Mitusia’s legacy. (Her work can also be observed in “My Private Hell” at Firm Gallery in New York, alongside performs by Cole Lu, Robert Bittenbender, and Tobias Bradford. In 2020, her performs have been revealed in “I Want to Experience Alive Again” at Lyles and King in New York.)

Aleksandra Waliszewska, Untitled (Mitusia). Courtesy of the artist.

Aleksandra Waliszewska, Untitled (Mitusia). Courtesy of the artist.

An Artwork-Stuffed Childhood

Waliszewska’s childhood reads like a novel. She was born into a spouse and children of females artists: her grandmother, ​​Anna Dębska, was a important 20th-century sculptor, famed for her energetic, monumental depictions of animals, specifically horses. The enthusiasm was more than aesthetic. Dębska proven one of the first private Arabian horse stud farms in Poland.

“She also seduced young adult men,” Waliszewska advised Artnet Information.

While nonetheless a boy or girl, Aleksandra began pursuing artwork (her earliest recollections involve a self-portrait with a big, toothy mouth, with animals lined up to get in).

“One of the clearest reminiscences I have from that time period is a drawing I built of a bare running woman. That was the beginning of a composition in which a bunch of naked girls are revealed jogging from flying saucers that are hoping to catch them with lassos.”

She recalled a individual second of satisfaction with regards to that image. “My mother’s then-husband or wife, who was nicknamed Rekin [Shark], observed the drawing and was absolutely sure it was by my mom, who is a sculptress with supreme drawing competencies.”

Aleksandra Waliszewska

Alexsandra Waliszewska, Untitled (2022). Courtesy of the artist and Business Gallery.

Quickly just after, the famed Polish psychologist Andrzej Samson took a liking to her operates, and devoted an place of work wall entirely to Waliszewska’s drawings. In 1986, her tenth yr of existence, she created her 1st sale.

“I got a pack of sesame snaps in trade for a reserve whole of drawings,” she stated. “Whoever was working with me at that time is by no usually means a loser.”

 

The Breakthrough

Whilst Waliszewska appreciated a childhood of artistic experimentation, she used several years battling with the expectations of school.

I was comprehensive of illusions concerning the coolness of the creative entire world at the time. The good news is, university sobered me up,” Waliszewska recalled, noting that for the duration of an exhibition in her first year of significant school, “someone wrote ‘LOUSY’ in golden ink less than one of my paintings.”

Waliszewska soon committed herself to a rigorous class of self-imposed examine.

“I went through lots of art textbooks, evaluating my capabilities to those people of renowned artists when they had been my age. Picasso became a key level of reference.”

She went on a relentless run of crash classes with are living designs, producing as several scientific studies as doable. “I harassed my pals, developed confusion between park-goers, and produced a trillion self-portraits. No one particular was harmless.”

Nor was everybody enthusiastic.

“I received a torrent of poor marks with comments that I was already around as an artist,” she mentioned. So she cheated her way via entrance examinations to make it into artwork university.  

Aleksandra Waliszewska

Alexsandra Waliszewska, Untitled (2022). Courtesy of the artist and Business Gallery.

She adopted these yrs with tremendous ambitions, and some accolades.

“I’d seen a lot of great artwork and wished to paint like Piero Della Francesca or Masaccio. My paintings from this period of time brought me substantial economical results and some acceptance. 2002 and 2003 had been the culminating issue of this chapter,” she recalled.

But not shortly just after, about 2005, she fell into struggles. 

“This was the darkest time in my apply. I still painted for various several hours a day, but I was absolutely dissatisfied with the results,” she recalled. The breakthrough came in 2006, when she observed the Japanese animated film Tamala 2010: A Punk Cat in Area. Its heroine, Tamala, will come across a forgotten painting in a museum basement although seeking for the rest room.

“I saw that Japanese filmmakers can gracefully paint some thing I was torturing myself more than for years above, and be better at it,” she mentioned. “Right then, I took a break from ‘high’ ambitions.”

 

A New Muse

These days in her studio, Waliszewska paints surrounded by her grandmother’s animal sculptures and significantly far more.

“I have a billion paints, a trillion artwork albums, and a hoarding problem. I start off a new portray nearly each and every day, but it’s really hard for me to explain my process far more closely. What I do originates typically from my fascination with the artwork of the earlier.” 

Even though she is reticent to give too a great deal perception into the influences at participate in, she claims early Renaissance art pretty much normally appealed to her—scenes of hell and the apocalypse, specifically. Pieter Bruegel’s Landscape with the Drop of Icarus is a unique favourite.

Usually, nevertheless, she believes artwork went downhill immediately after the Quattrocento.

“Art has only turn out to be even worse and worse. Despite this hopeless situation, I nonetheless paint, so the viewers can at minimum discover some thing new and appealing in my work,” she reported. “Usually, even though they are let down.”

Alexsandra Waliszewska, Untitled (2022). Courtesy of the artist and Company Gallery.

Alexsandra Waliszewska, Untitled (2022). Courtesy of the artist and Business Gallery.

Apart from animals, most of Waliszewska’s paintings and gouaches function gals who usually bear a resemblance to the artist. She suggests she makes use of herself as an anatomical model, but when asked who these females are and why they’re right here, she jokes: “I’d also like to know who these bitches are.” 

She is deftly obtuse about the usually frightening topic subject she provides: when I questioned about the spooky element, she requested me if I located the paintings frightening. Well, sure, at least a little bit. Probably that stems from her acknowledged interest in upiórs, Slavic folkloric vampires. But the artist stresses she does not want to be linked with the modern witch motion.

“Bullshit I’d relatively not be involved with,” she stated.

For now, Waliszewskai is functioning to manage a forthcoming exhibition at the Warsaw Museum of Modern day Art meant to open up this June. The exhibition will feature nearly 200 performs, alongside examples by Polish artists she admires. 1 of them, Marian Henel, is an outsider artist.

“He weaved massive tapestries in a psychiatric hospital, typically depicting the giant asses of nurses,” she discussed. “Unfortunately not considerably remained of his do the job, but he’s definitely an artist of comparable stature to Henry Darger.”

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