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Not Dead Yet: Painter Aleksandra Waliszewska Makes Nightmares Look Beautiful

Not Dead Yet is a column dedicated to finding experimental, funny, and out-of-this-world artists.

by Lorelei Ramirez
Mar 19 2016, 1:15pm

All images courtesy of the artist

Ever gaze out your window and wonder what you're missing out on? Perhaps feel an overwhelming sense of dread thinking about your mortality? Not Dead Yet is a column dedicated to finding the most exciting, experimental, funny, and out-of-this-world work, so that you won’t have to worry about missing out. With interviews and features like these, you’ll totally forget that death is at your door.

Now, here’s something that’ll help you laugh a little bit harder about the whole “I’m going to die one day” thing—the art and mind of Aleksandra Waliszewska. A graduate of Warsaw's Academy of Fine Arts, Waliszewska has had publications in My Dance The Skull, Kaugummi Books, Les Editions Du 57, United Dead Artists, and Drippy Bone Books, among many more. Her work also inspired Greek director Athina Rachel Tsangari’s film The Capsule, on which Waliszewska worked as a screenwriter. Waliszewska creates painted worlds that are humorous, dark, and disturbingly beautiful. Reminiscent of gothic art with a tinge of romanticism, her interest in medieval paintings and self portraits mixes perfectly with her ability to refrain from taking herself too seriously. Much like her paintings, interviewing her was profound and disturbing, but hilarious nonetheless. You may not find answers to your questions about her work, but you’ll definitely get a sense of the mystery and humor behind one of today’s most exciting painters.

Your works range from being simplistic to being much more detailed. How do you find the freedom to jump from style to style?

It's really simple actually—you just have to stop caring. Also you press B while running to jump further.

Do you ever worry about sticking to a certain aesthetic or a certain medium? Or do you operate in more of an organic way?

I do worry about sticking in general. Sticking is bad, that's why antiperspirants were invented.

Your work  feels like concentrated panels of a giant graphic novel, almost a never-ending story similar to the works of Henry Darger. Do you feel as if you are writing a novel of sorts, or working within a particular world you’ve created?

Oh, I didn't create that world, I found it in an old rug and now I'm just documenting it. I feed them bread crumbs soaked in cola— they seem to like it for some reason.

When did you decide that painting is what you wanted to do? And what sparked this?

I was visited by a muse one rainy night. I woke up and there she was—radiant, covered in paint, her sad shark eyes all teared up. I asked her "why are you crying?" and she said something I will never forget: "Is this tuna still edible? I feel like it's been in the fridge for ages." Then I woke up for real this time and I was surrounded by my paintings and people were cheering and shaking my hand. I don't know how I got there or what I've been doing for the last ten years. Please contact me if you know what's going on here.

How does it feel to be a recognized and working female painter? How would you regard your experience?

I feel very proud that people recognize me as a HUMAN female painter, because that is indeed who I am, and definitely not an alien female painter— that would be ridiculous, right? Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.

A great deal of your work centers on young girls at the dealing with violence or being sexualized. Is this a purposeful choice on your end or is it just part of the way you see the world?

I'll say it's more the way the world is. I personally like to see the world as a candyland, where everything is made of ice cream. Unfortunately my dentist doesn't share my worldview. He says I must stop munching on concrete buildings if I want to keep what's left of my teeth, but what does he know? He's not an artist!

What is your personal philosophy?

You snooze you lose. That's all.

Where do you see yourself and your work in the future?

I see myself in a space helmet, riding a hover-car and heading to mars for my third intergalactic exhibition. A great friend of mine, Lord Zordrak is rumored to be there. Of course he's my friend in the future, as there are no known alien lifeforms in 2016, Earth Time. I mean, just 2016.

What are your hopes for your work after your death?

Imagine how marvellous it would be if all of my paintings simply shriveled up and died along with me. Imagine the stink in all those classy houses.

To learn more about about Aleksandra Waliszewska's work, click here

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Not Dead Yet
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Aleksandra Waliszewska