Justyna Kisielewicz, a rising star of European art, is better known abroad than she is in her motherland. Her work shocks and so does her personality, deliberately so, because Justyna’s intention is to rip up the stereotypical image of the dour Polish artist. Her talent is beyond doubt – and she knows exactly how to promote her work and make money from it.
Justyna believes that Polish study tends to focus too closely on the theoretical, without preparing artists for life, because those who finish their studies cannot sell their works. She knows what she is talking about, because she herself graduated with three majors – political science, international relations, and finally, painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw.
She takes a true business approach to life, immersing herself in the hard, commercialized world while her work, as if in defiance, seems to seethe with rebellion and protest against the world. Our senses, accustomed to certain rules, collide with characters often well known from movies and cartoons, whom Justyna gives her own, often shocking features. On top of that she places them in the most unconventional poses and situations. She is also entirely uncompromising; there are no restrictions, she does not hesitate to carry out even the craziest ideas. She had the courage to create when Polish art salons were to excess steeped with black-and-white and grey colors – and she almost paid for it with expulsion from university. As you can see however, one can be resourceful, but not submissive, you can create in the van and succeed, you can have your own vision of art and make a career in the big world.
The art of Justyna Kisielewicz is a truly an explosive mix – in her compositions, there are characters from Disney cartoons in fantastic metamorphoses. The artist plays with nudity too, using the characters and props from American pop culture. She is also a master of self-portrait, inserting her own image into many works. On one of them, she painted her laughing face amongst balloons with Minnie Mouse – a work titled Minimal fun.
Hailed by the Western press as an extraordinary artist from Eastern Europe, and the princess of pop culture, Justyna presents her works at art galleries in many countries in Europe and beyond. She has exhibited as far away as Sydney and her latest works are shown in Germany, but she also has exhibitions in Poland. She herself, moreover, admits that the expansion of her art does not come from a desire to escape from Poland, but rather from the need to gain new experiences.
For Americans, an artist from Poland is exotic – perhaps, it is the fresh look of Justyna in American pop culture that is the cause her immense success overseas. Arriving in the United States, she had an opportunity to confront the reality of America, comparing it with her ideas and dreams from childhood. Time will tell what impact the clash of two cultures will have on her art in the future.
Photos: Artist’s archive