Olga Wolniak

BORN 1957, Rangun w Birmie

Olga Wolniak’s first solo show was called Protective Colours and featured collage-based, highly decorative paintings. Soon after, the artist introduced into her work themes borrowed from socialist realist art. Wolniak’s paintings are decorative in form but communicate serious social issues. Her pieces, especially those created since the late 1990s, deal with subjects such as women’s emancipation and their culturally assigned roles. Wolniak studied at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts, graduating in 1980 in the studio of Prof. Tadeusz Dominik.

Carpet - Runner
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Olga Wolniak

Carpet - Runner

1999 / oil, canvas / 100 x 100 cm / no. 0026 Creative CommonsCreative CommonsCreative Commons Licence 3.0 1/ 2 Wróć
Description

“Everything can be an inspiration, and in my case it was artistic handicraft, all kinds of textiles,” explains Olga Wolniak. “I realised that carpet weaving was done exclusively by women, as was embroidery or lacework. I decided to portray the seemingly prosaic work of the female hands, and not only because of the great beauty of the products. I wanted to elevate their effort to a higher level – the level of a piece of art. Reproducing the carpet motifs, I began to reflect on their significance. They had become so deeply embedded in culture, though, that we usually don’t notice them,” says the artist. Her pieces are like painted adages or dictums, their purpose being to awaken the viewer’s sensitivity to the play of signs and symbols.

Sirvan
This image, entitled Sharing Creative Works, by Creative Commons is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Olga Wolniak

Sirvan

1999 / oil, canvas / 100 x 100 cm / no. 0027 Creative CommonsCreative CommonsCreative Commons Licence 3.0 2/ 2 Wróć
Description

“Sirvan” is a popular variety of Turkish carpets. Many of them adorn the floors of Polish homes. nowadays the oriental ornaments usually bring to mind a typical 1980s Polish living room rather than Middle Eastern exoticism. Wolniak takes advantage of this “familiarity” of the shapes and patterns. She documents the texture and design of the woven carpets, bringing to our attention crafts traditionally passed on by the mother to the daughter. Sirvan is also the name of a river flowing through Iran and Iraq. Today, when both countries are associated with political instability and the ongoing difficult social situation of women, the painting acquires a new, disturbing level of meaning. “In each and every one of us there is energy, or aura, specific only to that person. We don’t even realise how much of it we communicate to other people, not verbally, but with touch, gesture, and gaze. I paint because I believe that our hands communicate it in the most direct way,” says the artist.

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