Paula Smolarska

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The malleability and softness of objects is at the heart of Paula Smolarska’s practice. Her work is the result of a process driven exploration focused on the inherent physical properties and subsequent pliability of materials such as plastic, rubber, vinyl and latex. Smolarska is drawn to work with these materials as they replicate for her the feeling of wearing her own skin on her body. She then responds with empathy and curiosity towards this peculiar experience through a series of performative, playful and metaphorical activities.

In one such process, she first applies pigmented latex onto a glass window, peels it off and then repositions it. In another piece, she continually compresses and stretches the vinyl bellow of a foot pump.

The bi-product of these performative processes subsequently becomes either the exhibited artwork or the pattern for a casting process.

Smolarska uses colours in monochromatic and dichromatic manners to employ their immersive power to transport the viewer into the realm of the psychological and subconscious. She poses questions about the origin and authorship of the performative activity and its meaning.

Her piece [2013] Pump is a bronze cast of the bellow from a foot pump. Originally made of vinyl, Smolarska froze the object in a position between inflate and deflate. She then took a mould off it and used lost-wax process to cast it in bronze. One side of the object revealed tightly packed folds and creases, the other one a hollow ring that framed the surrounding view.

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