Originally trained as an art historian, Alicja Bielawska accepts that we can never escape what we know. The past is our mutual anchor. It is a harbor of experiences. Bielawska uses the past as storage. Memory is almost always a part of her practice. The memory of thought, the memory of lines, the memory of the everyday life, the memory that which was our childhood, the memory which at its best, is universal. Careful never to fall into the romantic rapture of nostalgia, Bielawska’s practice strives for lightness, even the sort of lightness Milan Kundera understands as positive but also condemning. In contrast to her Polish contemporaries and art historical ancestors, the artist sets herself apart by marching forward towards a contemplative weightless-ness that is aware, that is not afraid, that has already arrived embedded with a sense of purpose and morality. She states “it is indeed in the pleats, corners, and layers upon everyday life” where the subconscious resides, where our subconscious makes a home. Bielawska expresses her desire to investigate material, alternative arrangements of proportions, and formal properties of art through carefully-composed compositions.
When we look at her works, we see visual echoes. We hear, but we do so with our eyes and then our emotions. She meticulously crafts tent-like sculptures, but the exterior is counterbalanced with transparent pastel-colored fabrics. The artist cuts across the aerial space of the gallery using a rope, colored in sections using different threads and fabrics. Her collages depict emotion, childlike movement, but punctuated with reasoning. We catch a glimpse of her line of thought in the simpler works. Her artistic voice is never loud. It commands quietly. It mesmerizes: our intuition captured and our cerebral processes suspended. Bruce Nauman declared that a professional artist was able to arrive at the feeling he set his mind to during art production. He meant that a professional knows a, not necessarily the, pathway to execute his concepts. In this sense, Bielawska has achieved her task to make the “viewer aware of his mental and physical presence”… touching his memories, and bringing him “outside a routine perception.”
Bielawska graduated with an art history diploma from the University of Warsaw and the Gerrit Reitveld Academie in Amsterdam. She also studied at Central Saint Martins in London, UK. The artist is the recipient of numerous grants and scholarships including the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of Poland, Mondriaan Fonds of The Netherlands, and Young Poland. In 2014, she was invited by the Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart, Germany for a residency. She has exhibited widely throughout Poland, The Netherlands, Germany, and Spain. In 2013, the Modern Art Museum of Warsaw commissioned a large-scale work from Bielawska, now on display and part of the permanent collection. In 2014, NERO publications produced a book of drawings entitled Disordered Structures. Her works are collected throughout Poland and the Netherlands.
The artist lives and works in Warsaw and Amsterdam.