Christen Sveaas Art Foundation: The Travel Bureau, Selected by Paulina Olowska
Whitechapel Gallery, Gallery 7
January 14 – May 08, 2022
Painter Paulina Olowska (b. 1976, Poland) reimagines Whitechapel Gallery as travel bureau, where works of art by Marina Abramović, Gillian Ayres, Ed Ruscha and more become portals to destinations around the globe. Drawing from the Christen Sveaas Art Foundation, Olowska’s installation is inspired by Orbis, the largest and longest running travel agency in Poland, famous for its alluring posters that prospective travelers a dream of escape.
Within the ‘waiting room’ of Olowska’s travel bureau, visitors first encounter Rosson Crow’s (b. 1982, USA) epic Californian desertscape, populated with electric pink cacti and sun-bleached detritus. Before the 3-metre-wide canvas stands a wooden desk on which an ornate porcelain vase by collective Skuja Braden (Ingūna Skuja, b. 1965, Latvia; and Melissa D. Braden, b. 1968, USA) and a collection of vintage postcards mirror the destinations portrayed throughout the space.
Olowska’s own multifaceted practice embraces painting, graphics, costume design, performance and activism. Her monumental figurative paintings celebrate modern women pictured in magazine-style poses against backdrops of utopian scenarios, including Window Display GUM (2018), in which a young woman poses in an idyllic green pasture clad in a luxurious summer dress.
Elsewhere in the display Rodney Graham’s (b. 1949, Canada) bed-bound newspaper reader imagines only the possibility of travel, while Hurvin Anderson’s (b. 1965, UK) painted parasols conjure scenes of white sandy beaches and the plein air paintings of Thore Heramb (1916-2014) and Oluf Wold- Torne (1867-1919) transport viewers to the Norwegian countryside. For those curious about travel beyond the Earth’s atmosphere, cosmonauts Pierre et Gilles (formed 1976) reveal the neon flora of outer space.
The Travel Bureau is the second of four displays featuring works from the Christen Sveaas Art Foundation, which holds more than 2000 works by 300 artists from around the world. This exhibition features 26 of these artists including Marina Abramović, Brian Alfred, Hurvin Anderson, Gillian Ayres, Monica Bonvicini, Skuja Braden, Rosson Crow, Ida Ekblad, Arne Ekeland, Berta Fischer, Till Gerhard, Rodney Graham, Thore Heramb, Paulina Olowska, Laura Owens, Pierre et Gilles, Johannes Rian, Julia Rommel, Ed Ruscha, Caragh Thuring, Fredrik Værslev, Charline Von Heyl, Jakob Weidemann and Oluf Wold- Torne.
Olowska’s display follows This is the Night Mail, selected by Oslo-based artist Ida Ekblad (b. 1980, Norway). The third and fourth exhibitions in the series feature the selections of Hurvin Anderson and Donna Huanca (b. 1980, USA), coming to Whitechapel Gallery in summer and autumn 2022.