Soda Gallery, Istanbul
22 October – 12 January 2013
Soda Gallery and Malgosia Stepnik Studio are pleased to announce the first solo exhibition of young, London‐based Polish artist, Malgosia Stepnik in Istanbul.
Born and grew up in south‐west Poland Malgosia Stepnik is one of a young generation of Polish artists that are fast attracting the interest of collectors, curators and the international art‐world.
“I come from a tiny village in the south‐west,” she explains. “It was surrounded by a beautiful forest with dears, hares and hedgehogs where I used to escape to read and draw and it was here that I discovered art. My grandfather was the first to notice a little A4 drawing, and he said, ‘Oh, you are good, you could go to art school’, and I remember having this amazing euphoric feeling about that. I bought some oil paints, went with the feeling, and it seemed to work.”
However, in Poland the idea of studying art still seemed a dream — Stepnik studied sociology and psychology at the University of Wroclaw — until she moved to London in 1999, where she received a first class degree in Fine Arts at City and Guilds London College of Art.
“The art dream always stayed with me but it was only when I came to London I could realise it. I drew anything and everything — still lives, people, buildings, leaves, birds in the forest, and always with colour, I’ve always loved colour.” The combination of her psychology studies with her painting skills is evident in the canvases she creates, which have titles such as ‘Intensity’ and ‘Catharsis’. There’s an alien, almost primordial quality to it; her signature style being circular forms and bold psychedelic colours that evoke the inner workings of the human psyche. It’s a visceral approach, and it makes the work intensely personal, as well as highly seductive.
“Energy under a very powerful microscope,” Stepnik calls it. “It’s about the relationship I have with myself and others. I guess my paintings are like energy explosions captured on canvas, or on the other mediums I use.” It’s why she sometimes augments her pieces with sound, light, and film to strengthen the impact of the images on the viewer’s emotional state. Her ‘illuminated works’ have become especially desirable among collectors, after becoming an immediate sellout in the show, ‘States of Reverie’, at the Scream Galley London, in 2010.
Self‐identity is another major theme, one which she is currently exploring with her “body works”, to be revealed for the first time in ‘Sensuous’ in Istanbul 2012. She enjoys grappling with complex themes. “The way I see it, each thought carries an emotional charge — worry, anger, loneliness, love, hope, happiness; it all runs through my body. Letting go of that emotional charge is how I create my work.” The result is a tapestry, a kaleidoscope of biomorphic forms that directly reflect her imagination and experiences. that almost seem to be parodying our notions of modernism, although Stepnik insists that this is not her intention.
“When I was growing up in Poland, my image of places like London and Paris was idyllic,” she says. “TV and fashion magazines made me feel like I was missing out on something, and everything seemed so new, so colourful, so light – the shops, the restaurants, the streets, the cars, the beautifully dressed people. The truth is I wanted to be one of those beautifully perfect people too and that is what my art is about really.”
This sentiment — almost brutally honest — inspires an approach in her work that stretches beyond the canvas to inspire an entire lifestyle that prizes the importance of art and the pleasure of beautiful things above all else. In the artist’s new home in Notting Hill her studio is one of the largest of five rooms, the others being an art library, a conservatory and an art salon that the artist has personally designed. This and her interest in dress, fashion and the Orient bear reference to the Aesthetic movement and the idea of art as important for its own sake and beauty to be valued for itself alone which artists are starting to return to again.