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The Things of Warsaw / Painting Works Cooperative. Mural by Paulina Włostowska

Painting Works Cooperative. Mural by Paulina Włostowska

Painting Works Cooperative. Mural by Paulina Włostowska

Paulina Włostowska’s mural presents an alternative history of the Old Town and the New Town in Warsaw.

Painting Works Cooperative is a tale of a collective work performed by women who—at the key stage of the capital city’s reconstruction—engaged in decorating the walls of the tenement houses that were being brought back to life.

Referring to Wojciech Fangor’s mural titled Forging the Scythes, the artist moves away from telling stories related to wartime uprisings and national insurrections. She focuses on the enthusiastic aspect of postwar history and presents the reconstruction period as a time of transformation and enormous hope.

The work of Paulina Włostowska shifts attention from Fangor’s national-liberation message to a vivid tale of female artists. These women gathered to decorate the spaces of the city that was in the process being rebuilt from rubble, thus writing a history no less vital than the armed uprisings.

Among the female artists involved in this process were Krystyna Kozłowska, Zofia Czarnocka-Kowalska, Krystyna Łada-Studnicka or Helena Grześkiewicz. Some of them also engaged in new plaster colouring technologies. Others, like Zofia Artymowska or Hanna Żuławska, pursued successful, often international, artistic careers over the years.

The mural by Paulina Włostowska draws on the ideas created by these women. The artist combines various patterns and adds decorative elements from the archives and photos. She portrays the female artists within the work itself, thus restoring their visibility and significance.