Ola Woldańska-Płocińska is fond of vegetables. She is indeed! Of plants in general, even if her peppermint is actually the paper mint. To be honest she likes all grocery, let us have a look at posters designed by her with elegant, colourful and attractive rows of meats and sweets, all in alphabetical order. Okay!, she likes animals as well. Piglets are her favourites. Surely enough it is because they are pink, roundly shaped, amusing, and at the same time very intelligent creatures. And this is exactly her liking of this species, especially in its juvenile version, led to making charming cardboard books for children – the beginning readers, or perhaps yet only the grateful and loud (their comments!) audience. These were her original proposals published by Czerwony Konik: Piglet’s First Birthday (2010), and Piglets’s Second Birthday (2011).
The collaboration between Ola, at that time at her maiden name Woldańska, with Ola Krzanowska, the owner of Czerwony Konik publishing house, started along with a book debut of a young graphic artist, then a student, from Poznań. During the second year of the publisher’s operation, namely in 2009, Mrówka wychodzi za mąż [An Ant Is Getting Married], with a text by Przemysław Wechterowicz, a brilliant matrimonial miniature appeared on the market. The humorous and absurd text was wonderfully elaborated thanks to Ola’s skills and ideas. In response to the ant’s ad, there appears a row of intriguing candidates (a red ant-soldier, a Boxer addicted to her mistress, and a business shark, among others), several of whom disappear only a few moments after having offered themselves to the ant, often enough under traumatic circumstances, defects of the others win over their apparent advantages. The search for the only one ends up with finding the ideal who turned to be… an ant-eater. Well, optimists, idealists, day-dreamers, and, let us hope so!, kids shall believe in a long passionate kiss and love till the end of life. Pessimists, a part of realists, behaviourists, and apparently the majority of grown-ups will see an example of a total consumption performed by romantic passion of the ant-eater in the double-spread marked by red spots.
The book about the ant who is getting married may act as Aleksandra Woldańska-Płocińska’s artistic calling card. The young author (b. 1985) is doing great in a digital environment, she takes all the advantages of a computer as a current working tool of graphic artists. No matter if she makes designs for T-shirts for Gryfnie (a Silesian company selling mostly clothing), postcards, cultural posters (mainly for children’s theatre – e.g. The Pinokio in Łódź, or festival and events addressed at young audiences, e.g. Festival of Polish Art for Children in Edinburgh), press illustration (social topics for “Wysokie Obcasy” magazine for instance), or children’s book illustration – she always makes her characters friendly in form and expression, she often personalises objects. They are all nice, positive, colourful. She applies a synthetic form and flat paint spots. She is capable of putting a lot of contents, action and absurd humour into a few simple lines or dots (pink wavy lines against the grey background are actually earthworms crossing the street, and black dots with thick pink lines are ants carrying frankfurter sausages). At the same time she teaches us the language of forms. This simplification may derive directly from children’s drawings, the artist follow kids’ favourite method of equipping non-animate elements with faces, arms and legs.
The whole pack of veggie characters we are able to find in her another original book entitled Marchewka z groszkiem [Peas and Carrots] (2011). All the vegetables and fruit, no matter if they are local or exotic, have eyes and legs, some of them even have noses, lips and cheeks. A short action novel smartly introduces ecological topics to children. The book is about sustained development and conscious agricultural policy, as it makes us realise how important the natural cycle of vegetation, and benefitting from the local cultivation are. And how unhealthy the import of obviously conserved vegetables from distance countries actually is. Ola’s engagement in social and economic issues can be clearly seen also in her designs of posters, e.g. Do not fire out on New Year’s Eve which is against noise of fireworks on the last day of each year, Food Wasting Is a Smelly Affair! for Banki Żywności [Food Banks], or Fair Energy for IKEA, a poster which promotes LED bulbs. Although the message is nothing but serious, the contents makes us laugh. Let’s have a look at the New Year’s Eve poster in which brave youngsters carry a brown bear on a stretcher. It is up to us if we interpret the scene as the bear being already a victim of a roar of fireworks, or as its evacuation to a safe place.
In a multiplied self-poster-portrait (used as a poster accompanying the artist’s solo show) Ola introduced herself in six females crouching like a bunny with their bodies decorated with elements of the worlds she is telling us about. These worlds are filled with colours, dynamics and humour. Let us enjoy them, but also reflect from time to time.
Ola Woldańska – Płocińska Ants are carrying frankfurters
Satyrykon Gallery, Legnica, Rynek 36
Varnishing day: 15th March 2019, 6 p.m.