Bożka Rydlewska creates phantasmagorical worlds in which butterflies, parrots and fish lurk behind flowers and leaves. These are impossible worlds, governed by the law of the strangest of rhythms and imaginary configurations, subtly drawing the viewer into their surprising labyrinths.
Visual artist, illustrator.
Rydlewska (born 1977) graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków, and she also had the opportunity to study at the Högskolan för Design oh Konsthantverk in Gothenburg, Sweden. Her works have appeared on the pages of FUTU, Exklusiv, and EXIT, as well as the magazine Rojo & Garabato.
The artist’s portfolio consists of illustrations based on her keen interest in the world of plants. However, she transforms them into impossible visions, creating new species, and gracefully combining existing and non-existing shapes of leaves, buds, and branches. Rydlewska’s work is characterised by a certain amount of surrealism, and a fine sense of the laws of ornamentation. Her drawings are anything but minimalist; their strength lies in the wealth and intensity of shapes and colours, including discreet horror vacui.
The illustrator plays with kaleidoscope-like effects, as can be seen in her current commercial project for the cosmetics brand Dr Irena Eris, where the delicately intertwined shapes form pink flowers, as well as in the New Botany and Sea Poems series of illustrations. She feels comfortable in the world of consumer projects: she has worked with Empik, and decorated Kristoff porcelain, drawing on bird motifs with characteristic subtlety.
Rydlewska has taken part in many exhibitions. Her work has been recognised in Poland and abroad. She has been noticed by publishers hunting for young talents – her illustrations have appeared in books such as Atlas of Illustration or Taschen’s compendium Illustration Now! 5.
pop - up book
contemporary polish illustration
In 2013, Rydlewska created a ‘pop-up book’: a book with three-dimensional illustrations, moving away from computer-based work. She familiarised herself with old craft techniques, and then worked for a long time on hand-made cut-outs, on the basis of which the final version of the three-dimensional images was created using a cutting ploter. This is how Rydlewska remembers the project:
At first I thought that I would draw everything on the computer, then print it and arrange it, but the screen is flat and there is no way of checking how the whole composition will look like in reality. You have to manually adjust all elements and put them in the right place, just like in a kaleidoscope.
The artist managed to apply her simple, oneiric aesthetics to this three-dimensional experiment and create unusual worlds, inviting the viewer to their depths, tempting with their intricate leaf arabesques and colourful exotic parrots. Rydlewska often emphasises her unique bond with nature:
I would happily exchange civilisation for breeding bees, imagining and creating strange new species of plants and flowers.
Selected exhibitions and awards:
- Lotos o tysiącu płatkach i inne opowieści z krainy kwiatów / Lotus with a Thousand Petals and Other Stories from the Land of Flowers, Warsaw University Library, Warsaw
- Natural Recall, Serra Dei Giardini, Venice
- Sen w śnie / Dream within a Dream, Promocyjna Gallery, Warsaw
- Fljotstunga Artistic Residency, Iceland
- 13. Festiwal Illustrative, Berlin
- Scholarship of the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage
- Painters of Illustration, Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw
- Ilustracja PL / Illustration PL, Warsaw
- Nowa botanika / New Botany, Flying Gallery Foundation, Warsaw
Author: Agata Morka, April 2015, transl. Bozhana Nikolova, April 2015