Interview with Karolina Jablonska

We are proud to present our latest collaboration, which features works by Polish artist Karolina Jablonska titled A head vase (pink and white). The limited edition comprises five pink and five white, ceramic sculptures, with all of the sale proceeds to be donated to Fundacja Ocalenie, a non-profit organization helping refugees fleeing into Poland. The ceramic pieces are a first for the artist who primarily works with paint on canvas. The sculptures are loosely based on Jablonska’s self-portraits which play a key element in many of her paintings. We recently sat down with the artist to discuss the collaboration.

What about Her Clique’s mission is most significant to your life and practice?

I love to work alone and this is how I spend most of my time, but I also appreciate being a part of a team. Working with and for people is something I keep exploring and incorporating in my art practice. In 2016, together with my two friends and fellow artists Tomasz Krecicki and Cyryl Polaczek, we founded an artist-run exhibition space called Potencja. We’ve put on shows for artists of our generation, whose works we like, and for many of them, these were their first solo shows. We helped them gain visibility, but at the same time, this made a positive impact on our own artistic careers.

I think what I appreciate the most about Her Clique’s mission, is this same premise of a mutually beneficial set-up – while the artists are given an international platform, the works sold help to power many important causes and bring visibility to social issues.

Could you talk to us about the work you created for this collaboration?

I created a series of ten (five white and five pink) ceramic sculptures, which can be used as flower vases. Self-portraiture is a fundamental theme I explore in my work, I was happy to apply it to a three-dimensional medium. A few years ago I painted a painting titled Self-portrait as a broken sculpture. It was a white, smiling bust which was a reference to classical representation. At the beginning of this year, I painted a pink head full of yellow tulips. It was before I made a series for Her Clique, but I already knew I would do it. This felt like a fantasy that came to reality.


[Left] Karolina Jablonska, Self-portrait as a broken sculpture, oil on canvas, 2019; [Right] Karolina Jablonska, A pink vase, oil on canvas, 2022.


This head vase has a grotesque smile and fun shape and yet still reminds me of classical, Greek sculptures. In my practice, I reference art history often so in a way this allusion makes a lot of sense. As this technique is a new one for me, it was both challenging and exciting for me to explore it.

What I really like with these sculptures is that unlike my paintings, these works can and hopefully would become useful and used objects, with their ultimate purpose to be decided by their owners. I imagine the “heads” full of cut flowers, or as a place for spare change, or a pot for a cactus... I like this idea of multiple uses for my work.


Karolina Jablonska, A head vase (pink and white), 2022. Ceramic sculpture, edition of 10 (+ 2 APs).


What are you currently working on?

I'm currently working on a series of paintings, exploring feelings which are difficult to define. It happens quite often that I paint about things that are hard to put into words, and perhaps that's why I'm using non verbal language to do this.

The feeling that I'm talking about is something around coldness and a certain distance that can come either from a single person, a group of people, or even society as a whole. This series will be presented in my solo show at Raster Gallery (Poland) this Fall.

Could you talk us through your creative process?

I know some artists with sketchbooks full of ideas and studies waiting to be painted. I'm not one of them. I don't have a ready list of works that I plan to paint.

After I complete a painting, sometimes it happens that another one comes to me as a continuation of the story that I told in the previous one. Usually however I am left with an empty head. I need to think, talk, watch and read to create something new. It's a frustrating moment because I can't stand being unproductive. Many ideas come to me from books. I love to read novels and perhaps that's why many of my paintings look like a mix of reality and tales.

When I finally get the clear idea, I always sketch it and take time to study it. The painting itself is the most satisfying and in many ways the easiest part of my creative process.

What are some of the key themes you explore in your work?

In each work, I spin a story about everyday life. By choosing details of reality and transforming those (by making them bigger, smaller or giving them more focus), I highlight things that I care about. At first glance, it seems I'm very focused on myself because my works are mostly self-portraits. However, I do try to explore subjects of general interest and universal appeal.

I'm a 30-year-old woman, living in Europe, which means I am lucky to find myself in conditions which are safer and where I am presented with more opportunities than a lot of my female counterparts in other parts of the world. I have free access to education and healthcare and I appreciate this so much.

At the same time, I live in Poland, a country with one of the most restrictive abortion laws. Women here still have to fight for their basic rights and are, by definition, treated worse than men.

Also, while Poland's government has facilitated immigration to Ukrainian refugees, at the same time it has been penalizing helping refugees that come from other parts of the world.

These are issues that I'm constantly thinking about which I explore in my works.

Who are some of your favorite fellow artists and why?

The one with a sketchbook full of ideas and sketches waiting to be painted - Tomasz Krecicki. He is a careful observer of little things and a great painter.

Another one is a brilliant photographer based in Vienna, Sophie Thun. She also uses self-portraiture in her work. She com­bines a clas­sical photographic tech­nique with performative art elements. She is a strong, brave and intelligent person. I just love her work!

I appreciate many fellow artists but I'll mention just one more. She is also a painter, her works are something between 3-D objects and classical paintings on canvas. Emilia Kina is an artist with a very gentle approach to reality. She creates beautiful and elegant pieces.

Why is the charity you’ve chosen an important one for you?

I chose Fundacja Ocalenie for all the work they do to support refugees fleeing armed conflicts in the Middle East (on Belarusian-Polish border) and Ukrainians fleeing the war, seeking refuge in Poland.

The funds from the sale of the white vases will be donated to Ocalenie's efforts on Polish-Belarusian border, while the pink ones will benefit their work with Ukrainian refugees.

I'm grateful for organizations like Fundacja Ocalenie. I'm not brave enough to go to the border and help myself but with this fundraiser I hope to to support them in their efforts.

To view and purchase the works by Karolina Jablonska, please click HERE.


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