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Karen Corinne Herceg

ART REVIEW: Agnieszka Nowinska

Agnieszka Nowinska is that rare artist who soars across borders and enchants us with the universal language of her artistry. She offers us a body of work that seems limitless without redundancy. Her art conveys an elusive union of past and present infused with both nostalgic longing and future possibilities. These creations illuminate our world in archetypal yet contemporary imprints. Working in a variety of forms and genres, she has created an oeuvre that is cohesive and unifying while retaining its singularity and a consistently identifiable style.


Born in Bielsko-Biala, Poland, Nowinska attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow and graduated with honors from the MFA program in set design and fine art. Her final project in the program was an interior design inspired by author Jules Verne’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth.” It was awarded a Gold Medal and was chosen as one of three national winners exhibited at the Louvre Museum in Paris. Another project completed for her MFA included an animated movie, “K Kontra Kafka,” shown on National Public Television in Warsaw and in the Animation Film Festival in Europe. Nowinska’s 2013 exhibition, “It’s All About Energy,” was curated by Stefania Carrozzini at the Onishi Gallery in New York City. In 2006 she received scholarships from the Bank Bancaja in Valencia, Spain for continuation of her doctoral thesis and from Ford USA, which helped launch an individual exhibit in Miami, Florida. Nowinska’s paintings can be found in collections in the U.S., Canada and Europe. She’s the recipient of numerous grants and commissioned works. International in scope, she works in fine art, giclee on canvas, graphic design, set design and clothing design. There are works she creates with her breath, blowing articles of paint by mouth across the canvas. She describes “…molding lagoons of water with my breath into stalactite shapes that blend and dilute the explosions of paint.”* As she explains further, “Some become minimalist stains that comment more on the whiteness of the paper and others completely consume the white to leave a tantric tapestry that reminds me of sub-marine seascapes.”* Her travels in Andalusia inspire bright, vivid imagery in combination with drawings, photographs, woodcuts, etchings and various special effects. Of these processes Nowinska states, “My artworks tell a story which each spectator can develop from his/her own impressions. It begins to create a surreal world, incites a revolt in logic and transports them to other dimensions. They are visions of parallel universes, although quite fantastic, that comment on our cycles of life and death in a symbolic language.”* She communicates in a style that is both classic and synchronistic, patterns yoked in rhythm and movement, and no line gratuitous. Each piece creates a mood and prompts a memory or association. Opulent contours and fine details compel us to discover multiple points of clarity within intricacy and complexity. Many pieces incorporate human elements stripped to their anatomically exact skeletal forms that are combined into native components and vistas. Humanity and nature blend flawlessly. It allows for reconciliation within both the quixotic and quotidian that instills a harmonious solace within us. Flow and movement are defined precisely despite many images being of miniscule proportions. There is inherent rhythm in these pieces that is singularly recognizable yet integrative. Themes might repeat but bring new textures, patterns and values. There is a timeless quality and visual stability at work, an instinctive coordinated balance anchoring us to each piece. The style is distinctive and recognizable with focused intensity yet expansive vision.


I first discovered Nowinska’s art in 2017 when I reviewed Clare L. Martin’s poetry book Seek The Holy Dark (Yellow Flag Press, 2017), for which she designed the cover. Vivid and penetrating colors within a swirling vortex represent accurately Martin’s often dark, emotionally charged poems. Once again she has captured the essence of words transformed to visual representation in two recent hardcover limited edition poetry volumes published in Poland, “Closeness of Distances (2016) by Juliusz Watroba and “Golden Rain” (2015) by Jan Picheta. Her artistic interpretations not only complement poetic expression, they enhance them and evoke intrinsic, intensely emotional responses. Appropriately, Nowinska is fond of quoting Homer: “A picture is a poem without words.”* There is a textural acuity and delineation of line that renders an exquisite tactile experience that is visceral and grips our senses. Line and color are balanced and in accord. When her depiction of human faces blends with the indigenous environment, it fosters our connection to the world. Nowinska shows us a more definitive understanding of what can be possible between manufactured and natural environments. One image in Picheta’s book shows us a bird as a mirror image of itself, with its composite reflection offering yet another image of a completely new kind of bird, its chest cavity exposing the bone and sinew of its intricate life form. Above this image floats a bevy of butterflies, symbols of transformation, conveying that all things connect, blend and coalesce in the realm of imagination and possibility. In another image, the heads of male and female figures gaze at one another suspended within a muted palette of blood reds and leafy greens that remind us of both human and indigenous elements. They wear headdresses of delicate wings much like fine filigree within the composition of a spider web. You will be hard pressed to find anything more romantic or linked than the gaze between those two pairs of eyes. It evokes a timelessness that still remains tethered to relational reality while eschewing sentimentality. Nowinska shows us what is possible within the fantastical without limitations. This ability allows her to work in various genres with equal ease and expertise.


In her engagement with other mediums such as set and clothing design, Nowinska brings an architectural precision to her work that maintains perspective but allows for vast original presentations. She soothes us with her practiced eye for placement and physical sense of balance. The work is commanding in its reconciliation of incongruous images, bringing a concordant force to her visions. The blending of real and surreal components is similar in style to one of her contemporaries, Vladimir Kush. Employing subtle sophistication, Nowinska draws our attention to focal points that entice us like an enlightening secret. Fantasies are accessible and achievable in the context of the commonplace and familiar. She eliminates the division between our real and imaginary worlds, instilling a limitless optimism and anticipation for what is feasible beyond the constraints of the logical mind.

Certainly it is challenging to work in multiple mediums without diluting the quality and essence of one’s work. Nowinska manages to navigate these obstacles through an obvious passion that expresses and defines itself in the ongoing expansion of her rich and copious production. As evidenced in her “breath paintings,” Nowinska literally breathes life into her art and into our sensibilities. She inspires emotional responses and aesthetic appreciation. The list of her accomplishments is extensive. Still one feels she is only at the precipice of more deserved recognition on a wider stage.

*REFERENCES: www.agnisartcollections.me

Zloty Deszcz/Golden Rain
Jan Picheta, Poet; Agnieszka Nowinska, Artist
52 Pages; Hardcover, Published with Sponsorship
Bielsko-Biala, Poland

Bliskosc Oddalen/Closeness of Distances
Juliusz Watroba, Poet; Agnieszka Nowinska, Artist
52 Pages; Hardcover, Published with Sponsorship
Bielsko-Biala, Poland

Seek the Holy Dark: Poems
Clare L. Martin
66 Pages; Print, $9.99, Paperback, Yellow Flag Press