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Marta Niedbał | Paweł Olszczyński

Sep.28 - Nov.18, 2023

The exhibition Hold Me Closer is a sensual journey through the body and its need to absorb experience and heal wounds. We get hurt when we function in a numbed world dominated by competition. All too often this world has no room for mindfulness, intimacy and tenderness, both towards the surrounding reality and towards ourselves. The art of Marta Niedbał and Paweł Olszczyński revolves around entangling and tracing paths through imposed hierarchies. 

What unites their works is the theme of dissolution – in the most literal sense of the word, understood as breaking through the boundaries of the medium. For Marta Niedbał, fabric is synonymous with delicacy and instability, weakening the rigidity of painting or sculpture. At the heart of the exhibition are two fabrics created jointly by Niedbał and Olszczyński, which also blur the lines of individual authorship. Who made which part doesn’t matter. Polyphony is the basis of the works, and the dialogue resonates with concern for each other’s contribution.

The aforementioned dissolution also means opening up to the surrounding reality and breaking through numbness and ostentation. The body is inscribed with histories that can be rewritten and redefined. Niedbał's activities return to the broadly understood aspect of healing, and in her latest works we recognize the motifs of digestion, mutations, but also massage devices.  Her activities show a renewed interest in soft techniques of resistance. Processes that redefine the sense of attachment and enable connections with an unstable world, especially through tenderness and care. Her works show the cracks, leaks and unstable boundaries of bodies, engaging the viewer in the sensual sphere of being between ‘no longer’ and ‘not yet’, full of divergences and transformations. Her chosen medium allows her to work with a constant flow, a sensitive attention to what comes, what remains and what escapes in the creative process. 

In this context, the bars that appear in Olszczyński’s recent paintings can be interpreted as something that constrains and burdens us. Embedded in many of Olszczyński’s works are hybridised figures, symbolic figures of non-binary bodies that defy clear classifications and yet demand subjectivity and recognition. In their gestures, the figures express care, tenderness and the desire for sexual gratification as well as brutality. The highly sensual chimeras – starving, devouring obstacles – cry out for contact and embrace. The artist’s paintings and ceramics draw on European symbolism of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, fusing it with elements of contemporary visual culture. Olszczyński populates his works with characters of chimeras, harpies and sphinxes, who are usually secondary figures and metaphors for the current atmosphere of decadence and unease. He elevates them to a primary role, where they exercise control, seduce, take revenge and establish a new hierarchy.

Olszczyński and Niedbał’s exhibition encourages us to embrace, to cling even closer, to smell intensely and hear the rush of circulating blood. In a tender embrace, we will feel the porosity and cracks under our fingertips. The space between us and the ‘other’ is both vast and closer than our own skin. Through the fluidity and porosity of bodies, we can open ourselves to a connection with the sensual, metabolic ‘we’, transforming the indigestible into a warm 
meal of pleasure.


curator: Katarzyna  Piskorz

Marta Niedbał  (b. 1986)


Interdisciplinary artiste currently based in Kraków, Poland. She graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow and completed a scholarship at the LCC University of the Arts in London. Selected exhibitions: Fluid Circulation (Kunstwerk Köln, 2023), The Discomfort of The Evening (Zachęta, National Gallery, Warsaw 2022), Some Holes in This House (A Primer for City Dwellers, Kraków 2022) Interior (BWA Katowice, 2022), Liste Art Basel (Serce Człowieka, Basel 2021), Somnium Soft-Core (Czwartek Gallery, Warsaw, 2021).

Through the weaving of threads, Marta Niedbal's work reveals sensual leakages and unstable boundaries of bodies. She is interested in soft skills of resistance that challenge dualisms and dichotomies and engage the body with its relationship to affect, emotionality and sexuality. She opens a narrative space for the peripheral and emphasizes the role of tenderness in discussing various forms of solidarity, empathy and "being in it together."

Paweł Olszczyński  (b. 1985, Cracow)

He graduated from the Graphic Department at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow and Hochschule für Gestaltung, Offenbach am Main. In 2010-2012, he co-founded the New Roman gallery and collective in Krakow. He received the scholarship of the Mayor of Krakow (2011) and the Minister of Culture and National Heritage (2016). He works mainly in the field of painting, drawing and graphics. He also creates ceramics. Paweł Olszczyński’s works deal with the interdependency between art and the design of utility forms as well as interiors with historic decorative art. Selected exhibitions: Heavy Ornament (Studio PRÁM, Praga 2022), The Discomfort of Evening (Zachęta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw 2022), On These Noisy, Fiery and Stunning Days, I Move With My Thoughts (Stefan Gierowski Foundation, Warsaw 2021), In the Near Past (BWA SiC, Wrocław 2018).

logo: czarny herb z koroną, biała syrena z tarczą zwrócona w lewą stronę

the project is co-financed by the Capital City of Warsaw


photo: Szymon Sokołowski (meta_stron_fiction)