Katarzyna Gajewska
Contemporary Portraitist.

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Postmodernist Art.
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Katarzyna Gajewska (b.1978)
Contemporary Portrait Painter

I first saw a painting by Gajewska about a year ago. When I found out it was painted by a Polish artist I wasn't the least bit surprised. There was a rawness about it, a sort of undeniable reality. So much contemporary art in Ireland is contrived or experimental - it is produced simply for effect. But when you look at a work by Gajewska, you see something authentic - something naked and raw. Her staring Red Head (left) is a particularly powerful piece with a complex sub-text. Indeed, nearly all her paintings possess this combination of visual power and narrative allusion. The visual impact may be more instant, but the narrative content is equally imposing. Who is the red head? Why is she staring? Is she defiant or worried? Is she a friend, a rival or a self-portrait? Like a newspaper photo torn from its story, the picture is searingly authentic and full of allusion.

• For other postmodernists in Ireland, see: Contemporary Irish Artists.
• For the world's best, see: Top 200 Contemporary Artists.




Katarzyna Gajewska was born in Warsaw, where she grew up alongside her brothers Stanislaw and Jakub in a house filled with books, paintings and sculpture. Her father was an art historian, her mother an editor with a publishing house, and art and aesthetics were regular dinner-table topics. She began drawing and painting as a child - much like other girls might play with dolls - and went on to spend much of her youth copying Old Masters like Caravaggio, Giorgione and Titian. In 1998, she graduated from the State Secondary Art School in Warsaw, and began showing her paintings and graphic works at group shows in Germany and Poland. In 1999, she won a place at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts, from where she graduated in 2003, after which she enjoyed a series of solo shows in the Polish capital (2003-5). In 2004, she was awarded a Ministry of Culture Scholarship, and in March 2005, she received a Masters in Fine Arts from the Academy, before taking up a residency at Cill Rialaig, County Kerry, Ireland.

For a list of the leading Irish
painters, including exponents of
expressionist painting, see:
Best Irish Artists.


Now established as a full-time painter in Dublin, Gajewska has enjoyed a number of highly successful solo exhibitions, and has shown widely in group exhibitions throughout Ireland and internationally. Her works are represented in private collections in Ireland, England, Germany, Switzerland and the United States.

As An Artist

Gajewska works with oils and enamels as well as mixed media on canvas, using only her hands to apply paint. Being so close to her work makes it a sharper but also a more toxic experience - she has poisoned herself with fumes more than once!! However, it's a passion that dominates her life. As she says: "I am happy if I can paint; if I cannot, I am very unhappy."

Her portrait art is perhaps her most consistent genre, and include a series of canvases on iconic women like Marlene Dietrich and Sophia Loren. However, some of her subject paintings, like the deeply satirical Communists, can be equally powerful.

Unlimited Potential

Judging by her works to date, I think Gajewska has the technical skill and the vision to become a great artist. She has that rare gift of being able to endow common subjects with uncommon significance, while at the same time creating something of real beauty. I hear that her works are selling like hot cakes, even in today's recessionary climate and, frankly, I'm not a bit surprised.

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2002 Forum of Non–Governmental Initiatives, Warsaw
2002 Fund of Non–Governmental Initiatives, Warsaw
2002 Kawiarnia Radna, Warsaw
2003 Elektor Gallery, Warsaw
2004 Gallery Chimera, Old Town, Warsaw
2004 Gallery Kotlownia, Warsaw
2005 Gallery Le Madame, Warsaw
2005 Posters, Make Art not Violence, Gallery Le Madame, Warsaw
2006 "The Battle over Madame X", Origin Gallery, County Dublin
2006 "Beyond the Clouds", One Gallery, County Dublin
2007 "First Hand Emotion", Signal Arts Centre, County Wicklow
2007 "Face'ography", Linenhall Arts Centre, Castlebar, County Mayo
2007 "In the Name of the Feelings", Courthouse Arts Centre, County Wicklow
2007 "Based on Dreams" Riverbank Arts Centre, Newbridge, County Kildare
2007 "Pleasures and Terrors" Mill Theatre Gallery, Dundrum, County Dublin
2007 "Paintolepsy" Droichead Arts Centre, County Dublin
2007 "Letters from All Seasons" Cavan Arts Office, County Cavan
2008 "La Vie en Rose", Origin Gallery, Dublin
2008 DIY, Wexford

Selected Group Exhibitions

1999 Posters, Weimar, Germany
1999 Posters "To overcome the borders – international studies" Warsaw
1999 Posters, Gdynia, Poland
2002 "Art and video tapes", Foundation Wyspa Progress, Gdansk, Poland
2003 "Orbis Pictus Europa", Warsaw – Praha
2003 International Poster Triennial, Trnava
2005 IAF, Inspired Art Fair, London, United Kingdom
2005 Christmas Art Fair, Origin Gallery, Dublin, Ireland
2006 Cois Farraige 06, Joan Clancy Gallery, County Waterford
2006 "In the Frame", Siopa Cill Rialaig, County Kerry
2006 "Group show of 12 female artists", Buckley Fine Art, County Cork
2006 Art Ireland, Dublin Art Fair, Dublin
2006 Mid Winter Exhibition, Hallward Gallery, Dublin
2007 Urban Retreat Gallery, Dublin
2007 AMO Public Art Exhibition, IFI, Temple Bar, Dublin
2008 "Between Dreams and Documentation" Kenny Gallery, Galway
2008 SolArt Gallery, County Cavan
2008 Joan Clancy Gallery, County Waterford

Further Information

To contact Katarzyna Gajewska, or to see more examples of her wonderful paintings I strongly recommend that you visit her website at: www.katarinagajewska.com/


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• For details of famous painters and sculptors from Ireland, see Irish Artists.

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