PAOLA CIARSKA

Casa Dolce Casa presents Paola Ciarska’s most recent series of paintings of increasingly creative and intense architectural spaces. Previously Paola’s small but intricate compositions combine elaborate, colourful interiors with enigmatic, often naked, women. These women, Paola’s “girls”, appeared as a nameless avatar that occupied and played within homes left temporarily vacant by their occupants. For this new series, wanting to connect with others at this time of isolation, Paola’s signature girls have been replaced by real women: friends and strangers responding to an Instagram call out to become part of her parallel world.

Paola’s paintings demand “close attention, and repeated looking unfolds strange new frissons and surprise details” (Daniel Culpan for ArtForum). However, the girls in these new works occupy the spaces in which Paola’s surreal games with scale and purpose are even more evident than before. Sofas that resemble giant hot dogs, tables made of oversized playing cards and a rug that looks like, or perhaps even is, a giant egg sit in strangely dimensioned rooms decorated with vast pop cultural murals. For such tiny works these games with scale emphasise their playfulness and potential, as well as the creative flow of their experimental and ambiguous symbolism.

As if inspired by the peculiar incongruity of the objects that surround them, these new visitors have become increasingly more creative with the space’s structure and strange reality: they let their arm dangle off the edge of a floor or stare through an invisible wall; they imitate poses from murals, repaint walls and paint a drooping penis as a stiff erection. Paola’s paintings have always represented the blend of our digital and physical homes and our private and public lives, but in these new works the nature of this mixture of reality and fantasy feels both spontaneously joyful and uncompromisingly real.

The series was recently premiered in the group show ‘Casa Dolce Casa’ at 22,48m2 in Paris from September – November 2020. Please click here for more details.  

Paola Ciarska was born in 1993 in Gdańsk, Poland. She participated in a talk entitled ‘Home Girls: An Evening of Women Redefining the Domestic Sphere’, organised by Contemporary Lynx at Calvert 22, London and features in the illustrated book ‘Off the Wall – Art of the Absurd’ published by Visionary. Her recent exhibitions include: ‘Gewoon Bijzonder (Extra Ordinary)’, a city wide group show with 38CC at Museum Paul Tetar van Elven, Delft (2019-2020); ‘I haven’t left the house in 5 days please send help’ at Galerie Emmanuel Hervé, Paris (2019); ‘Cześć, pani Ciarska’ at iMT Gallery, London (2018); ‘Worried Mother’, curated by MILK at Workplace Gallery, Gateshead (2016); ‘Feeling Safer’, curated by Mark Jackson at Brooklyn Fireproof, New York (2016); ‘Curious? Festival’ at Bamburgh House, Newcastle (2016); and ‘BRINK’ at Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, (2012).

She has completed a solo commission and exhibition with Ludovit Fulla Gallery of the Slovak National Gallery, a commission for the luxury travel brand Rimowa and presented a solo booth with iMT Gallery at Art Rotterdam in 2019. She recently exhibited in ‘Givin u coy givin u smize’ with Sadé Mica and Salut C’est Cool at iMT Gallery, London (2020). She has recently been reviewed in Art Forum, Candid Magazine, Contemporary Lynx and The Calvert Journal, and has work in the Hatton Gallery collection, UK. Paola is currently based in Gdańsk, Poland.

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Art Forum’s Critic’s Picks Review
Candid Magazine Review
Contemporary Lynx Review
The Calvert Journal Review
It’s Nice That Review

Painting by Paola Ciarska depicting women exploring their sexuality, amongst humorous pop culture references and quirky interior design.

LIFE AND THE PURSUIT OF PLEASURE #1
2020 | Gouache on board 12.5 x 12.5 cm
Unique

 

Painting by Paola Ciarska depicting women exploring their sexuality, amongst humorous pop culture references and quirky interior design.

LIFE AND THE PURSUIT OF PLEASURE #2
2020 | Gouache on board 12.5 x 12.5 cm
Unique

 

Painting by Paola Ciarska depicting women exploring their sexuality, amongst humorous pop culture references and quirky interior design.

LIFE AND THE PURSUIT OF PLEASURE #3
2020 | Gouache on board 12.5 x 12.5 cm
Unique

 

LIFE AND THE PURSUIT OF PLEASURE
IN SITU AT 22,48m2

 

Paola interviewed by Joanna Jachoł for K Mag on 24 September 2020

Interview in Polish

English translation:

Paintings of Paola Ciarska present tiny rooms in which young women discover their own sexuality and strength in a very personal space. The compositions of her works seem to be placed in the game Sims as the artist is convinced that you never know who is watching and who is listening – especially today. She sees herself as a women’s advocate and wants to fight against body-shaming, slut-shaming and taboos. For 16 years she has lived and worked in the UK. Now, as a 27-year-old, she has settled in Poland again and she sees her art as a platform which can contribute to implement changes for women rights and status in our country.

You moved to England when you were 11, this is considered to be very developmental moment in a child’s life. How do you remember moving to another country at such a young age?

It felt natural to me at the time because I didn’t quite realise what I was getting myself into. When you are a child, you don’t think of it as a big deal, but rather in the context of losing your friends and colleagues. I quickly got used to living there, I immediately learned the language, I just liked it. It was my parents’ best decision. I have been creating all throughout my childhood and my family have always supported me. Thanks to the fact that I went to study art in the UK, my work has already gained some recognition right after completing my diploma thesis.

How do you think your life would go if you stayed in Poland?

Honestly? I do not know. While still living in Poland, I was thinking about going to art middle school, so I would have definitely gone down this path, but it seems to me that it is much easier to be noticed in the UK. More people collect art there. I have many friends in Poland who graduated – or not – from the Academy of Fine Arts, and it seems to me that I would have to work here for a long time to reach the level I am at now.

Your works are mostly very small formats with different rooms. Where has the idea for this kind of aesthetics come from?

My paintings are inspired by the constant changes of the place of my residence. Due to frequent relocations, I saw many rooms and many people who lived in them. During my studies, I have been trying out various things, but I have always enjoyed the ones that required a lot of patience. That’s what small formats are like. A bit like therapy. Huge canvases were never entirely my thing. I have been experimenting with adding a lot of details, and everything has always been quite humorous. In my works, you can often see miniatures of famous works, for example “Girl with a Pearl Earring”. Currently, I am thinking of doing something “bigger”, but keeping the small scale in which I create.

Are these humorous accents and composition planned or are you just improvising?

Most often I improvise. I start with the walls and floors and then decorate my own home. I figure out what my characters will do, I compose their stories; what their jobs are, what do they do. I also like to weave elements of pop culture, because many people, and from my own surroundings as well, grew up among such things, things they can identify with. It adds a certain kind of nostalgia to these pieces. We all still feel like children inside.

You put the audience in the role of a stalker. Do you think we are really like this?

It seems to me that this is a disease of the XXI century. It’s so easy to get any kind of information now… People like to look, watch, share almost their whole life. In a way, that’s what my paintings are about. We watch my girlfriends, we watch what do they do at home, in their private spaces. When I was a child, I watched Hitchcock’s “Rear Window”, whose main character begins to spy on his neighbours and it’s still stuck in my memory.

One of the main themes of your work is female sexuality. What was the impulse to go this way?

I am an advocate for women, I want to encourage them to do what they want. So that, they don’t have to feel uncomfortable with the fact that they love themselves and their bodies. This is still a taboo subject, especially in Poland, where women cannot fully decide about themselves. The men “on top” still make some very important decisions for us, for instance when it comes to abortion. I believe it detracts from women. It looks as if they can’t think for themselves. It seems to me that every woman tries to get to know her body in solitude, satisfies herself, but still don’t feel comfortable enough to openly talk about it. I paint women in this humorous way, because I want both women and men to look at female pleasure with more ease. It just helps to talk about it. I want my works to support women.

As you said – in Poland it is still a taboo subject. How does it appear as in UK?

Likewise, really. The English approach seems to be looser, but there are also plenty of women in England who lack confidence. In 16 years of living there, I have noticed that many of them do not feel comfortable talking about various topics. One time I had to go to the cash register to pay for my friend for a vibrator. Among other things, this was also the source of the idea for my latest project.

Your latest series is something completely new – for you too. You quit painting yourself and started painting other girls. What prompted you to do this?

In the beginning, I painted an avatar of me, but also a reflection of all other women. For my latest project, via Instagram, I asked girls who would like to take part in it, who would like to be painted, to contact me. Instead of focusing on one character, I wanted to paint a whole lot of real, actual girls. I asked how they would like to be painted, what they would like to do. One said she was from Mexico. She wanted a Mexican room and two vibrators. They were all tagged on my Instagram, they shared their images on their own profiles. A kind of an activist network has been created out of this. I have decided to continue it and make it an endless series.

Now, that you are back in Poland, do you intend to mention “Polish” topics in your works?

Recently I have been thinking about referring to sex education in Poland. Poland is a beautiful country and what is happening here now is just terrifying. I am Polish and I want my platform to make a difference. Now that I live here, I would like to do something for this country. I will not censor anything. I will paint the rooms, and in each one of them, I will paint a different person, regardless of the age and the orientation. Sex education without any restrictions. I would also like to start painting single pieces for people who ask for it, with them taking the leading role in it.

 

 

Painting by Paola Ciarska depicting women exploring their sexuality, amongst humorous pop culture references and quirky interior design.

UNTITLED
2020 | Gouache on board 19 x 13.5 cm
Unique

 

Painting by Paola Ciarska depicting women exploring their sexuality, amongst humorous pop culture references and quirky interior design.

UNTITLED
2020 | Gouache on board 19 x 13.5 cm
Unique

 

 

Painting by Paola Ciarska depicting women exploring their sexuality, amongst humorous pop culture references and quirky interior design.

UNTITLED
2019 | Gouache on board 19 x 13.5 cm
Unique

 

UNTITLED (COMMISSION)
2020 | Gouache on board 19 x 13.5 cm
W/ signature frame
Unique

Paola also does commissions in which your own home becomes the setting for her work. Email us on mail@imagemusictext.com for a catalogue!

 

UNTITLED
2019 | Gouache on board 18 x 12.5 cm
Unique



UNTITLED (COMMISSION)
2019 | Gouache on board 18 x 12.5 cm
Unique

 

REDRUM (COMMISSION)
2019 | Gouache on board 18 x 12.5 cm
Unique

 

REDRUM (COMMISSION)
IN SITU

 

UNTITLED 
2019 | Gouache on board 18 x 12.5 cm
Unique

 

UNTITLED (COMMISSION)
2018 | Gouache on board 18 x 12.5 cm
Unique

 

UNTITLED (LUDOVIT FULLA GALLERY COMMISSION)
2018 | Gouache on board 18 x 12.5 cm
Unique