Agata Słowak, Installation view, BLUM Tokyo, 2024, Photo: SAIKI

Agata Słowak

Agata Słowak, Aleksandra Waliszewska

A Marriage of Heaven and Hell

Curated by Alison M. Gingeras
March 23 – May 2, 2024
Tokyo

"Pictures Girls Make": Portraitures

Curated by Alison M. Gingeras
September 9 – October 21, 2023
Los Angeles

Biography

Agata Słowak (b. 1994, Busko, Poland) paints audacious pictorial narratives with a disarming, Old Master-stylistic flair. Whether appearing alone or in group tableaus, Słowak’s youthful mien engages the viewer with the same defiant yet serene gaze. The artist is almost always the protagonist of her scenes that surpass conventional self-portraiture and tasteful subject matter with their allegorical density. Perfumed with a radical strain of feminism, her compositions are overloaded with Catholic iconography, Neoclassical art allusions, visceral bodily fluids, and graphic sexual acts. Her canvases manifest a relentless need to probe the intersection of her personal desires and collective political struggles.

Born in 1994 in Busko, a tiny town in southern Poland, Słowak hails from the Polish equivalent of the American Bible Belt. The region serves as a wellspring of support for extreme right-wing parties while propagating the Catholic Church’s power over public life. As Słowak explains, “My fight against the patriarchy was that I come from a family that is in a way like the current ruling party (PiS—Prawo i Sprawiedliwość or Law and Justice Party). From the beginning, I had something to rebel against.” Over the past decade, PiS has attacked constitutional democracy—whittling away at LGBTQIA+ and women’s rights, questioning “gender ideology,” and enacting one of Europe’s most severe abortion legislations. As a member of a generation that has risen up in defiance of this oppressive government, Słowak addresses these culture war issues through her personal symbolism and quasi-magical realism. 

Słowak’s output cannot be reduced to mere transgressive representation or political statement. As the artist performs auto-psychoanalysis with a brush, her paintings mine the depths of her own psyche. This act is inflammatory when considering the extreme repression of female corporeal independence in Poland coupled with the highly charged subject of artist-mothers throughout art history. While indebted to earlier women artists who paved the way for confrontational erotic images, Słowak’s self-portraiture conflates her drive for artistic autonomy with her effort to control her reproductive organs. Like a mash-up of Leonor Fini’s sensual dreamscapes and Hannah Wilke’s performative exhibitionism, Słowak fashions a universe in which women are agents of their own self-possession.

Słowak has received recognition since her recent arrival on the international art scene. Her work has been presented at the Zachęta National Gallery of Art (2022) and the Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw (2021, 2019), among other institutions and galleries. 

Selected Works

News

Agata Słowak and Alison M. Gingeras in Conversation

03/23/2024

Vulture: Agata Słowak’s Personal Jesus

06/21/2023

Related Publications

“Pictures Girls Make”: Portraitures

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