Aleksandra Waliszewska

born in Warsaw

Painter. Graduate of the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts. Earlier she abandoned large-scale oil paintings in favour of small-scale works on paper, mainly using gouache. Her works are populated by fantastic and human/animal hybrids: devils, nymphs, and cruel, pipe-smoking cats. They are guided by drives and emotions like fear, desire and aggression. The artist interweaves motifs and symbols from various periods in art history, folk tales and pop culture. Instead of art galleries, she prefers to show her works online and in albums, and has lent her works to illustrate books and recordings by other artists, such as Nick Cave. Waliszewska’s imaginarium has inspired such figures as film directors Athina Rachel Tsangari (The Capsule, 2012) and Agnieszka Smoczyńska (The Lure, 2015) and writer Szczepan Twardoch (the story “Cellar,” 2016). She lives and works in Warsaw.



2004-2008, gouache, pencil, cardboard, 35 x 25 cm

The fox and the mouse are animals ascribed symbolic meaning in the mythology, folklore and fairy tales of many cultures. Aleksandra Waliszewska’s visual inspirations are drawn from equally varied sources: from mediaeval miniatures and Italian early Renaissance painting to heavy-metal cover art and Japanese manga. Waliszewska combines these diverse influences in gouaches painted on paper in the small format. Her fox and mouse evoke figures from a collection of fairy tales from the mid-20th century.

In the world of nature, predator and prey; in the world of fairy tales, equal contestants, both gifted with agility and cleverness. But this time, paw to paw, they must flee a greater danger—an elemental force or perhaps a supernatural phenomenon. As in a fairy tale, there is a moral: in the face of catastrophe, all must equally take to their feet. 


2013-2015, gouache, pencil, cardboard, 25 x 35 cm

A giant spider or a microscopic human? The bizarre, lunar-theatrical scenery plays with the sense of scale. The amazing atmosphere is enhanced by the monochrome gouache styled like an old engraving. The spider is one of Aleksandra Waliszewska’s favourite motifs. Sometimes it takes the form of the mythical Arachne, the seductive spider woman; another time, a hairy giant monster straight from a horror movie. It is a predator that hunts lovers or catches defenceless girls in its web. This time the spider lurks behind a boy playing the piano, ready to attack. Or maybe it is different—has the pianist lured the spider out of its web with a hypnotic melody and subordinated it to his will? For Waliszewska, fear is intertwined with fascination, and violence with pleasure. The distinction between victim and perpetrator is always in doubt.

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