Visual artist, involved in painting and object art. Born on 1st May, 1980 in Zielona Góra.
In the years 2001-2006, Basia Bańda studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznań, obtaining a diploma in professor Jarosław Kozłowski’s class. Since 2008 she has been an assistant at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Zielona Góra. The artist works with the Pies Gallery in Poznań and lives in Zielona Góra.
In 2009, she received a Young Poland scholarship from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and the award of the monthly Arteon. In 2010 she was nominated for the Ale Sztuka Award granted by the editors of Gazeta Wyborcza, Radio Zachód and TVP Gorzów.
Basia Bańda is considered one of the most interesting artists debuting in Poland after the year 2000. Her work focuses on issues of the body, sexuality, emotional intimacy and sources of fear hidden in the subconscious. Critics had already noticed Bańda’s earlier works, created during her studies, and her participation in the art fair Art Poznań 2005 played an important role in her artistic career. In the same year, the artist presented her paintings in Berlin at the prestigious Art Forum. In 2007 she was among the 60 Polish artists participating in the exhibition Polish Painting of the 21st Century in Zachęta.
In her work Bańda uses themes traditionally associated with the art of women, but she does not give them a markedly ideological meaning and she does not claim to be a feminist. She paints within a characteristic range of colours dominated by shades of pink, red and white. These colours are associated with physicality and sensuality, yet they also evoke the atmosphere of little girls’ rooms. This combination of female sexuality with childlike innocence is characteristic of the style and themes of the artist’s works, which intrigue with their dissonance, obvious inconsistencies and contradictions. Beside the confessions of a mature woman and the large dose of bold eroticism appears the personage of a little girl, innocent, thirsty for feelings, and surrounded by toys. This figure of a woman-girl and the mixture of nearly pornographic content with form borrowed from the aesthetics of children’s drawings imbue the artist’s works with a sense of sublime perversion.
Bańda’s highly erotic creations do not lend themselves to simple description, they are filled with exciting tension. The intimate experiences, which the artist portrays, become disturbingly ambiguous. The painted or embroidered silhouettes in passive poses with spread legs often lose their gender identity; it is unclear whether they are women or men. What seems obvious at first glance soon becomes the cause of doubt and anxiety. The pleasant is combined with the perverse, the sensitive with the vulgar, intimacy with rape. Bańda’s works explore a whole range of sensations, emotions and desires brimming over with erotic fantasies, accompanied by ‘monsters’ like shadows – these are fears and concerns emerging from the subconscious. The works oscillate around the most deeply concealed privacy, which the artist does not hesitate to expose to the public. They are often compared to those of Tracy Emin, one of the most famous eccentrics revealing the secrets of her bedroom.
Bańda’s painting combines the aesthetics of pop art, naive art and comics; it also resonates with echoes of Basquiat and Niki de Saint Phalle. She uses a lot of ‘female’ techniques such as embroidery, sewing and knitting, following the tradition of the older generation of artists, including Maria Pinińska-Bereś and Annette Messager. She enriches her works with decorative elements, using glitter, beads and trinkets, sewing frills, lace and buttons, attaching toys and small soft materials, and sometimes gives her paintings the form of private quasi-altars. Many of them include fragments of children’s worsted sweaters, hats, scarves in pastel colours or wool dresses.
In order to reach what is hidden underneath, viewers must ‘undress’ them, undo the buttons. This action gives the sense of exposing the body, of penetrating into someone’s privacy, which, combined with the physical touch of soft texture, becomes close to an act of voyeurism. Even more so when we uncover the painting and find bodies in erotic poses, allusions to sexual practices and fantasies. In the work Be Gone Monsters (2005), serpentine creatures with bared teeth crawl towards a white children’s jacket, and the viewer, who is encouraged to undo a button, becomes one of them. The phallic shape of the snakes reveals the nature of these monsters, which are frightful, yet alluring and coveted. In another work the artist covered the act with knitted breast with embroidered inscription: ‘naked be gone me beautiful’.
Bańda adds text to the paintings written in clumsy, childish letters, without paying attention to correct spelling and pronunciation. Words are embroidered, imprinted or scrubbed into the texture of the paint, sometimes ignoring the rules of orthography, spelled backwards, or illegible. Bańda does not give them the character of a comment, but of private notes: some are created in the infantile affected language of a child, others make use of the vulgar expressiveness of intense bedroom dialogues: the work How do you want it? offers the answer – ‘Well, dick between the eyes’. The artist’s paintings are in the form of an intimate diary, they are like a record of the process of maturity, yet heavily imbued with infantilism.
In 2006 the Zdreczak Gallery released an album with watercolours by Basia Bańda accompanying the exhibition English Lesson. It contains over a hundred reproductions of works in alphabetical order by the English words and phrases or their Polish equivalents appearing on them. The focus is on vocabulary with erotic connotations visualised in a sensual, and at the same time blunt form. The subtle nature of the medium and the sophisticated colours give lightness and decorative value to these ‘educational’ paintings, which weakens their sometimes obscene rhetoric.
In Bańda’s works, the sexual relation between a woman and a man devoid of conventionality and the corset of convention becomes a world in itself, which cannot be judged as decent or indecent. Through the transparent layers of pastel colours, dark fantasies and predatory creatures accompanying naked bodies with exposed genitals acquire the meaning of intimate stories, of a guide through the land of unrestrained delight shrouded in mystery, and also strongly connected to physiology. There is place for pleasure and pain, the bodies are caressed, kissed, loved, but also beaten, rejected, maltreated. This is the whole cosmos of physical love and the associated anxiety linked with the body.
Basia Bańda’s works are located in the collection of the Lower Silesian Society for the Encouragement of Fine Arts, the Warmia and Mazury Society for the Encouragement of Fine Arts, the Podlasie Society of Fine Arts, the Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Zachęta Gallery in the Lubuskie voivodeship, ING Polish Art Foundation, as well as private collections in Poland, Germany and Austria.
Author: Ewa Gorządek, December 2010, transl. Bozhana Nikolova, March 2015
- 2002 – Regional Museum in Gorzów Wielkopolski
- 2005 – CI CI, Zderzak Gallery, Kraków
- Monster, Szara Gallery, Cieszyn
- What to Wear?, Zakręt Gallery, Warsaw
- Basia Bańda – Kunst in der Mode, Mode in der Kunst, ALLUDE GMbH, Munich
- Very Scary, Aneks Gallery at the Arsenal City Gallery, Poznań
- Basia Bańda, BWA Gallery, Zielona Góra
- 2007 – English Lesson, Zderzak Gallery, Kraków
- Ku ku, Wizytująca Gallery, Warsaw
- It Was So Wonderful, BWA Gallery, Zielona Góra
- 2010 – Girl with Fish, Platan Gallery, Budapest
- Terra Polska Vol. 2 - Kleine Mädchen, Kesselhaus, Kulturbrauerei, Berlin
- The Witch Ple Ple, Klima Bocheńska Gallery, Warsaw
- Embroidery, Lace, Flowers, Kolonia Artystów, Gdańsk
- Birthday Party, Pies Gallery, Poznań
- Polish Painting of the 21st Century, Zachęta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw
- Painting Reconnaissance, GCK, Katowice
- First Sad Then Crying, Kolonia Artystów, Gdańsk
- King of Lard, Szewska 36 Gallery, Wrocław
- Nice and Original, Klima Bocheńska Gallery, Warsaw
- Venus (Photography Month), Kraków
- Marian Szpakowski – Continuation / Hommage à Szpakowski", BWA Gallery, Zielona Góra
- Master & Monster (Four Cultures Dialogue Festival), Łódź
- Tribute to Andrzej Wróblewski, Program Gallery, Warsaw
- Who Can Hear Me? I Don’t See Anything, Studio Gallery, Warsaw
- Polish Alphabet 1, City Gallery, Tarnów
- Fancy Success, Art Bunker, Kraków
- 2010 - Rauchen verboten!, Klima Bocheńska Gallery, Warsaw