Paola Ciarska graduated from Newcastle University less than a year ago, but has already built an impressive CV, exhibiting in London and New York. Now she’s back in the North East with a new exhibition opening across two galleries in Newcastle City Centre.
‘Coming Along Nicely’ is open simultaneously at Gallagher & Turner on St Mary’s Place, and at The Globe Gallery on Pilgrim Street, in what is set to be one of the largest solo exhibitions given to a recent graduate in the City.
“Throughout my time at university, I experimented with numerous artistic disciplines,” recalls Paola. “I wanted to create work that would be accessible to everyone, something that would allude towards a humorous commentary of the human condition. I wanted to create a self-portrait that would also function as a mirror to whoever laid eyes on it. So one morning I got up and became a painter. A painter whose brush has just three strands of hair.”
Working with a brush so fine, each tiny painting takes over 40 hours to finish, incorporating the quirky trinkets of everyday life. Bunny slippers, Twister mats and potted plants are all set against a richly patterned backdrop inspired by warm memories of wallpaper designs growing up in her native Poland.
Discussing her process, Paola describes how she enjoys “getting lost in the labour of a marathon painting session. Once I have established a particular structure and layout for a vision, I get myself into a haze of obsessive, intricate detail application.”
Each miniature painting stars a solitary figure, often wielding a selfie-stick, living out a virtual fantasy from the comfort of her bedroom room, living room, or sometimes on the kitchen bench. The viewer is turned into a voyeur, spying on the indulgent private moments of an anonymous anti-hero that could easily be any one of us.
“Oversharing of private information we witness on a daily basis turns us into self-proclaimed voyeurs, without necessarily comprehending why and how those voyeuristic qualities got attached to our daily life rituals,” continued Paola. “It is an exaggerated, humorous commentary on people being people. People with smart phones and even smarter Facebook responses.”
Since graduating from Newcastle University in Summer 2016, Paola has exhibited at the Kingsgate Gallery in London and at the Exchange Rates Exposition in New York, as well as being involved in several projects in and around the North East, including at Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Workplace Gallery and Broadacre House. In June 2016 she was awarded the Hatton Purchase Prize, with one of her paintings becoming part of Hatton Gallery Collection.