All images courtesy of the artist.
By Iona Roisin
A swell of landscape encompasses prepubescent figures, writhing in agony and horror. The scenes are dense with details and elaborate line work, inspired by classical engravings. This is all crammed into a painfully 2D frame, making the whole aesthetic even creepier.
Aleksandra Waliszewska is a 35-year-old artist from Warsaw, producing reams of paintings from the darkest recesses of her imagination. Dealing with themes that still lie outside of societal norms, her work confronts taboos head on whilst borrowing the aesthetics of outsider art and blending with a punk naivety, resulting in Goya does pulp novel covers.
Waliszewska recently collaborated with London-based independent publishers ‘My Dance the Skull’ to produce two small books presenting a variety of her work. Since the 2009 release of her first self-titled book, Waliszewska’s work has been steadily gaining more recognition offline, as well as online; with features in Viande de Chevet and Frederic magazine.
It may be impossible for artists to separate their work from their history, certainly aspects of Waliszewska’s work could relate directly to the often tumultuous and violent history of her native Poland. For example, there is a complexity of narrative within her work that deals with the issues of power and control - the abused and the abuser, punctuated by a pornographic brutality.
Our relationship with nature is also an integral part of her body of work (indeed both her mother and grandmother are sculptors who create animals). Beasts ripped from mythology maul us, kittens disembowel us, flora twists and chokes us. We can see ourselves as the victims in her paintings, constantly battling against that which we cannot control. The fragile balance between mankind and nature is always under scrutiny.
The delicate depictions and subtle palette betray us: satanic iconography in an alluring shade of sea foam, internal organs a diaphanous shade of oyster. Doe eyed, fey young girls beckon towards us with their bloodied fingers: yet throughout this savagery a sense of beauty pervades.
Waliszewska’s practice almost appears as a compulsion, the sheer volume of her work implies an insatiable need to share the eerie world she inhibits. Her work possesses a primal authenticity, and, in the current art climate I feel there is a desperate need for artists like Waliszewska, who’s work is primitive, yet deeply emotional too. She has created an entire world, in which her contemporary dystopian folklore provides a voice for our modern fears.
Iona Roisin is a young artist studying at London's Cass School of Art, Media and Design, whose practice is concerned with pornography, politics, violence and love & she works across a multitude of mediums including music and text.