Paulina Olowska’s exhibition ‘Squelchy Garden Mules and Mamunas’ at Pace Gallery
22nd November 2023 – 6th January 2024, Pace Gallery, 5 Hanover Square, London
Titled after Olowska’s eponymous video installation, first included in the artist’s 2022 exhibition at Kistefos Museum in Norway, Squelchy Garden Mules and Mamunas reimagines Slavic mythological deities and demons in new modernist lights. The Mamuna, literally translated from Polish as strangewife, is a female swamp demon closely associated with rivers, streams, and thickets. Historically characterised as menacing, Olowska portrays her Mamunas as earthly androgynous nymphs, more magical than malicious.
Centring female perspectives and narratives, Olowska’s presentation will develop her explorations into Slavic folklore, mythology, and the collective capabilities of, and our intrinsic connection to, nature.
Large-scale paintings, each titled after deities from the Slavic pantheon, feature Olowska’s Mamuna-muses gathered amongst the birch and pine forests of northern Europe. By using photography as the basis for her compositions, the artist subverts mass media and fine art to recover female figures from their mythological pasts. In these paintings, women commune with their surroundings, with themselves, and with the viewer.
Paulina Olowska’s (b. 1976, Gdańsk, Poland) multifarious practice spans painting, collage, sculpture, video, installation, and performance. Her work is deeply engaged with the political and social histories of Eastern Europe, American consumerism and pop culture, feminism, and the aesthetics of fashion advertisements. She has had one-person exhibitions at Kunsthalle Basel; the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; the Zacheta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw; and Kistefos Museum, Norway and associated exhibitions at many other venues including Tate Modern or New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Olowska received the prestigious Aachen Art Prize in 2014.
To find out more about the exhibition, see Pace Gallery’s website: Squelchy Garden Mules and Mamunas