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Varsovians: Alicja Bielawska

Visual artist, nominated for the “Views/Spojrzenia” and Paszport Polityki (Polityka’s Passport). On Friday (24th November, 6 PM) she opens her “Hidden Doubts” exhibition at Kasia Michalski Gallery. She lives in Praga.

To what an extent are you inspired by the local, Polish, Warsaw context? Is it important for you?
– My passions derive from observation. I filter experiences and memories. I choose one piece which is separated from its story than I change a bit its shape, size, material. I strive to create a form which is in a subtle relation to reality and yet is ready to be filled with the viewer’s experience.

I make use of things which are familiar to me, places where I was brought up, objects I was surrounded with. Public and private space is equally important to me.

Did you grow up in Praga-Północ?
– Yes, I did. Old tenement houses, backyards, parks, playgrounds from that time. Everything is still vivid in my memory. Most of my works don’t directly relate to any specific places, stories or objects. However, they have this sensitivity to space and touch. It fascinates me how stories and memories are encapsulated in the objects. Maybe that is why I like visiting flea markets so much, for example, Koło in Warsaw, and just looking at this massive collection of objects. Fortunately, the size of my small apartment prevents me from collecting.

Apart from the down-to-earth, material reality, there is a place for inspiration connected with the Polish architecture, modernism, brutalism. This architecture which has been neglected and underestimated for a long time perfectly creates the surrounding. This is something which I constantly learn from architecture.

You studied in Amsterdam, your works are often showcased abroad. You could live there. Why do you keep coming back?
– Different places stimulate us. It turns out I need Warsaw. Of course, there is a moment when such level of chaos starts to be unbearable for me. That is why I have to constantly dose this intensive experience of the Warsaw reality.

Warsaw is now…
– Inspiring. I am constantly rediscovering it. New alleys between buildings, new places with delicious Vietnamese soups, shops with umbrellas, courtyards with retro elements, garden plots with fantastic miniature buildings.

Your favorite place in this city?
– There’s one spot that is beautiful all year round and that’s Skaryszewski park. You can find there rose gardens, magnolia trees blooming in spring, get lost in the boulevards, on the canals and bridges and have a delicious piece of cake at the Misianka cafe. As a child, I thought that the park was enchanted. In the icy cold winters, I would ice skate on Kamionkowski Lake and, among the labyrinth of canals, I discovered the little islands on the artificial lakes.

What would you recommend to visitors?
– The little houses in Jazdów are a magical place. Right in the middle of the city, there is a preserved grouping of the Finnish houses. You suddenly feel like you’ve been dropped into another dimension of time and space. The houses are covered with greenery and it’s so quiet. I fondly recall the Lado ABC concerts in one of the houses that took place throughout this last summer season.

Photo: Aga Bilska & Alicja Bielawska

Alicja Bielawska
Alicja Bielawska
Alicja Bielawska
Alicja Bielawska
Alicja Bielawska

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