Different – that’s the single word describing how the Warsaw designer treats traditional porcelain. Her dishes, lamps and interior decorations, thanks to their originality, are gaining acclaim and popularity in Poland and abroad.
Patuszyńska is a designer of interior decorations.
Different is to say the designer punctures and deforms her objects. She also gives them rough finishes. She creates variations on classic ceramic themes, which take on forms resembling children’s spinning tops in Giesche Stories from the series G-Tops (2011–2012), tea sets in Tea for One (1999) or deformed surfaces of cast shells in NonForms (2008–2009).
Patuszyńska (born 1973) questions the functions of everyday objects such as glasses or bowls, and employs unexpected juxtapositions of shapes. Sometimes her works constitute a riddle: What is this object used for? Unpredictability is what most inspires her in porcelain. She consciously avoids a fixed method of work – "I quickly became tired of repeatability", she says. Instead, she experiments constantly as she tries to achieve yet another new artistic effect: A saw, mallet, hammer, electric stapler, Scotch tape, they all come in handy, says Patuszyńska.
The designer has been described by Natasha Mayo, from the National Centre for Ceramics in Cardiff, as:
the exact opposite of a porcelain factory worker – she breaks plaster forms, she saws them into pieces. [...] She looks for stitches, edges and broken structures and creates dynamic and smooth shapes out of them. This resembles putting together non-matching elements of a jigsaw puzzle.
Patuszyńska sees porcelain as a material that is artistic, not practical. Her ceramic is proud, independent and beautiful. "Porcelain doesn’t surrender easily to the artist", she finds, "because it’s not a subservient or patient material. It has its own opinion. This pride is the most beautiful feature of porcelain". Thanks to this, the material may be used in countless ways.
Ceramics Differently is the international symposium organized in Wałbrzych since 1977. Patuszyńska is its leader since 2008. Each year in September leading designers from all over the world come to town. In the porcelain factories of Wałbrzych and Jedlina-Zdrój they create unique designs and share their experiences. The symposium ends with an exhibition of the newly created works, which is organized at the Ceramics and Glass Gallery in Wrocław. Patuszyńska says the artists have redefined the term ceramics. "Quite recently it was widely accepted that a ceramic work ought to be a figurine or a practical vessel", she says. "Now porcelain is yet another material, which an artist may use to express himself."
Wałbrzych is also important to Patuszyńska for other reasons. The porcelain traditions of the Lower Silesian region play a big part in her work. In one of her newest collections she refers to this legacy, though in a completely nontraditional way. Kristoff Series from the series TransForms Plus (2011) was created at the Porcelana Krzysztof factory in Wałbrzych. To make these works, the artist took elements from the firm’s oldest tea set, Fryderyka, and juxtaposed them with deformed, abstract casts. The porcelain objects from this series won the Prix de la Ville de Vallauris award at the 22nd International Biennale of Contemporary Ceramics in Vallauris, France, in the summer of 2012.
Patuszyńska first became fascinated with ceramics early in the 1990s. She lived in Denmark, where she attended a local high school. During a scholarship in Paris, she encountered casting – a technique that remains her favorite method of creation. When she returned to Poland she became a student of the Faculty of Ceramics and Glass of the Academy of Fine Arts in Wrocław, where she received her diploma in 1999. Since 2001, she has been running a ceramic studio in Milanówek near Warsaw.
At first she created traditionally, simply casting the plaster forms. That was how she created funny juxtapositions of tea-pots with cups for Tea for One, the coloured pots of Kowalsky (2001), the stands called OXY (2003) and sets of bowls (2005). Patuszyńska began to devote attention to the modification of the form prior to the cast. She turned to composing new wholes from fragments and pieces. That was when the stitches and edges that are a by-product of the casting technique became characteristic features of her projects, for instance in the coffee set from the series Ex-Forms (2007).
In her realisations, the artist concentrates on contrasts of textures, combining smooth and rough surfaces as well as homogenous and punctured elements. She usually uses light, neutral colours. That is why her projects retain a toned character despite having forms that are that are fanciful or often undefinable.
When asked to choose between the tags "artist"or "designer"she opts for the first without hesitation. She gets irritated when someone says that her punctured, fractured bowl from the series NonForms or the objects from the collection G-Tops aren’t functional. Practicality isn’t an issue in the case of works of art, so why should it be taken into account, when speaking of porcelain? In her work she is most interested by the preliminary, experimental phase, in which the form is designed. The final product that may be purchased is less of a concern to her. "I couldn’t responsibly call myself a designer because I’m don’t really care for the users, the consumers" she explains. "I’m much more interested in my relation with the material, the technology I apply, my technique."
Her latest realisations include experimental casts from the series QuasiForms (2009–2010), TransForms (2010–2011) and TransForms Plus (2011–2012). The objects from these collections look as if they were made from crumbled paper. They have become popular and were important in recent exhibitions of Patuszyńska’s works in Brussels at the prestigious Puls Contemporary Ceramics gallery (2011) and in London at the Royal College of Art during the Ceramic Art London 2012 showcase.
The artist is a member since 2009 of the Académie Internationale de la Céramique based in Geneva, and has won awards and distinctions at international ceramic competitions including the Mashiko International Pottery Contest in Japan (2000), the Taiwan Ceramics Biennale (2008) and at Simposio della Ceramica Contemporanea in Italy (2009). She has participated in Łódź Design Festival and in the exhibitions from the series Unpolished. Young Design from Poland (2010–2012).
Breaking the Mould
Breaking the Mould is Monika Patuszyńska's first solo exhibition in Sweden organised in cooperation with the Polish Institute in Stockholm at the Blås&Knåda gallery. An important part of Breaking the Mould is a 16-minute film of the same name, which premiered during the Stockholm Night of Culture. In the video, the artist talks about what she does, why she does it and what inspires her. Patuszyńska spends over half of the year away from her studio in Warsaw, and usually it is somewhere during her travels abroad that ideas for new projects are born. The artist also shares her thoughts on the idea of trash and usefulness:
I have always tried to unlearn superstitions and resist superficial assumptions about what is valuable and what is worthless, what is a failure or a success.I am fascinated by observing how changing the context of something, changes the perception of its elements. Elements that don't fit into their proper place in a specified order tend to arouse feelings of anxiety and suspicion. […] Trash becomes trash when it loses its frame of reference and becomes no longer useful. The perception of it as rubbish will persist as long as we don't recognise what it might otherwise be used for. When we succeed in fitting it into some ordered structure again, as a fragment of a larger whole, it ceases to be viewed as a threat.
Monika Patuszyńska is fascinated by dust: its structure, which is formed almost out of nothing, and once combined it becomes impossible for it to return to its previous, dispersed form. According to Patuszyńska, dust reflects our lifestyle, our homes and our habits. The artist also talks about her previous projects, such as Bastards and Orphans and a more recent one – Genealogy. She admits to have recently been most keen on observing seemingly stable systems, which change upon the introduction of new elements. She called this cycle Triangulation and, like the entire Genealogy series, it concerns relationships.
Genealogy is a project about combining different aesthetic, material, technological or cultural DNA. It is a story of interpersonal relations transferred into the language of objects, a story about what works together despite appearing mismatched. Patuszyńska believes that ‘we are also made out of different scraps of information: not only genes, but habits as well, all arranged in new orders’.
In Genealogy, Patuszyńska uses several types of porcelain, as well as pottery clay (applied before firing to obtain a matte surface) and road paint or concrete as a binder. The project is also about the immortality of traces that we carry with us, transferring them and including them in new combinations. In Breaking the Mould the artist also discusses her style of working:
I like creating vessels, because they are both abstract and personal at the same time; in a very unobtrusive way they can contain their own entire history, and the history of their centuries – old relationship with humans […] I cast from previously modified plaster moulds using a saw, chisel and hammer and, although it may look like destruction, I do it in search of the nature of the materials that I work with and which I have chosen.
The unsigned quote fragments of interviews given by Monika Patuszyńska to Polish Radio’s Channel 4, the magazine Czas i Wnętrze and the newspaper Gazeta Wrocławska.
The artist’s website includes a list of exhibitions, awards and distinctions: www.patuszynska.art.pl.
- 2020 – Artists Grant, Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, Poland
- 2019 – Grant/ Polish culture worldwide, Adam Mickiewicz Institute, Poland
- 2016 – Grant/ Polish culture worldwide, Adam Mickiewicz Institute, Poland; Artists Grant, Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, Poland
- 2011 – Honourable Mention Award, 1st China Kaolin Grand Prix, Jingdezhen, China; Honourable Mention, 9th International Ceramics Competition Mino, Japan
- 2009 – Premio Per Il Design, V° Simposiodella Ceramica Contemporanea, Bassano Del Grappa, Italy
- 2008 – Mloda Polska / Young Artists Grant, Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, Poland
- 2005 – Publiekspris, Theepottenshow, Goudse Keramiek Dagen, Gouda, Netherlands
- 2000 – Forma 2000, Poznan International Fairs DOMEXPO, Poznan, Poland; Judges' Special Award, 3rd Mashiko International Pottery Contest, Japan
- 1993 – study grant, Kulturminesteriet Danmark and Den Danske Husflidshojskole, Denmark
- 2020 – Genealogy, Wałbrzyska Galeria Sztuki BWA, Zamek Książ, Wałbrzych
- 2019 – Genealogy, GaleriaSiC BWA, Wrocław; Design – Sztuka Kobiet (group exhibition), DesaUnicum,Warsaw; Korale Koloru Koralowego (group exhibition), Bratislava Design Week and Łódź Design Festival; XXIVème Biennale Internationale de Vallauris(group exhibition), MuséeMagnelli, Vallauris
- 2018 – Korale Koloru Koralowego (group exhibition), Budapest Design Week and Designblok; Polak Artysta Ceramik (group exhibition), Triennale Bolesławiec 2018, MCC, Bolesławiec; European Ceramic Context 2018 (group exhibition), Grønbechs Gaard, Bornholm; Skazitelność. O fabrykach porcelany, MuzeumEtnograficzne, Kraków
- 2017 – The Waste Land, Escuela de Arte Talavera, Talavera de la Reina; Jing Piao- A Dialog with the World (group exhibition), China Ceramic Museum, Jingdezhen; Keramik Kunst- Dialog, TirolerVolkskunstmuseum, Innsbruck; Przekrój przez Międzynarodowy Plener Ceramiczno-Rzeźbiarski w Bolesławcu (group exhibition), Centrum Ceramiki Unikatowej, Wałbrzych
- 2016 – Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed..., Gaya Ceramic & Design, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia; European Triennial for Ceramics and Glass (group exhibition), Les anciens abattoirs, Mons; 52. Międzynarodowy Plener Ceramiczno-Rzeźbiarski (group exhibition), BOK-MCC, Bolesławiec
Author: Paulina Kucharska, March 2013. Updated by HSz, Sept 2020.