Between 1999 and 2005 she studied medicine at the Medical University of Silesia and from 2007 to 2012 she attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Katowice. In 2007 she also enrolled in doctoral studies at the Department of Psychiatry at the Medical University of Silesia, where she defended her PhD thesis entitled The Assessment of Emotions Caused by Visual Messages in People Suffering from Depression in 2010. Since 2011 she has worked exclusively in the field of art.
In 2011 she was awarded the first prize in the Hestia Artistic Journey competition. In the same year she won the Fresh Blood Young Art Review in Wrocław. In 2013 she was distinguished with a honorable mention in the Modessque First International Painting Competition, nominated in the Geppert Competition, and awarded the prize of the Artistic University in Poznań and the Collector’s Prize in the Nowy Obraz/Nowe Spojrzenia competition [editor’s translation: New Image/New Visions]. Bażkowska was also awarded scholarships from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and the Marshal of Silesian Voivodeship.
When Bażowska won the 10th edition of the Hestia Artistic Journey in 2011, she was a 4th year student of painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Katowice and has already held a PhD in Psychiatry. As part of her doctoral research at the Medical University, Bażowska analysed visual messages, chiefly in the context of patients suffering from depression. The painting Spotkanie (Meeting) brought her the first prize in the competition.
As the organisers of the Hestia Artistic Journey competition noticed:
Bażowska’s paintings and sculptures depict people without facial features or personality, as if they were formed and emerged from magma. They surprise not only with their form, but also with blotches of paint in vibrant colours. The laureate of the Hestia competition touches the questions of collective subconsciousness, projections of human brain or deeply hidden secrets.
In her artistic credo Bażowska declares that she is fascinated by life, nature, and the human psyche and body; she also draws inspiration from the reality that surrounds her. ‘I grew up in the mountains which resulted in my strong ties with nature’, she writes on her website.
In the text accompanying the exhibition Leże (Lair) which was displayed in the Zachęta Project Room in Warsaw in 2015, Magda Kardasz brings up Luna, a video performance from 2014 which brought Bażowska recognition. The film presents the relation between a woman and a wild she-wolf, and their attempts at understanding each other. The successive stages of their dialogue are shown – from observation at a distance to a growing need for proximity. The artist says that she planned to shoot a movie about wolves, and the closeness emerged of its own accord.
As Kadrasz writes:
The formally beautiful work was made in a forest, in a experimental nature station near Poznań (and in cooperation with a wolf specialist), and the performance itself seems to reverse the situation (often viewed in the case of artists working with animals) of the transportation of wild creatures into artistic locations. Bażowska tries to dive deeply into the natural environment, to feel it, to examine it through touch (as in her other film Intimacy). She strives to recognise emphatically the world of nature, and not to subjugate it or to instrumentally make use of its elements to create an artwork.
Between 2011 and 2015 Bażowska created a series of runic sculptures – made of soil, clay, moss and remnants of fur of various animals. In Zachęta Project Room she showed some of these sculptures, including the installation Lair.
As the artist writes on her website:
I made a den in which I lived during the Lair exhibition. To build it, I used some forest litter from the forest located near the place where I grew up and which was destroyed due to overexploitation of nature.
As a part of the series Mikroświaty (Microworlds, 2016) Bażowska created jarred compositions comprised of elements she brought home from various travels. She also conceived installations such as Rodzisko (Birth place, 2012) – a cave-like installation created with red cloth, where the visitor could lie down and listen to heartbeat and the murmur of the umbilical cord, Pokój Wiatru (Wind room, 2015) – a space where the viewer experienced an artificially generated sandstorm, Koncha (Concha, 2016) in the case of which the viewer experienced a sensation of immersing in water, or Ostoja (Refuge, 2016) – a system of dark corridors the visitor could go through relying only on the senses of touch and hearing.
As a painter Bażowska observes humans and nature and creates images which present a record of our consciousness. In her portfolio one can also find paintings triggering the sense of hearing: Echo (2015), Popołudniowy Dźwięk (Afternoon Sound, 2015) or Cisza (Silence, 2014). ‘A characteristic of Natalia Bażowska’s artistic practice is the development of her favoured themes through successive works and with the use of different techniques’, Kardasz notices.
Selected solo exhibitions:
- 2016 – External mamory, Blanca Soto Gallery, Madrid, Spain; 12 per minute, International Center for Contemporary Culture Tabakalera, San Sebastian, Spain; Steppe Soul, Rodriguez Gallery, Poznań
- 2015 – Luna, CCA Kronika, Bytom; Structure of Change, Art Agenda Nova, Kraków; Lair, Zachęta Project Room, Zachęta National Gallery of Art , Warsaw
- 2014 – Comfort zone, Gallery m², in cooperation with Andels presents, Warsaw; Open space, Cultural Center, Katowice; ID, Gallery m², Warsaw
- 2013 – Whole life under stress, sound and video installation, Bunkier Sztuki, Kraków
- 2012 –Birth Place, CCA Kronika, Bytom
- 2011 – Room to talk to animals, Rondo Sztuki, Katowice
Selected group exhibitions:
- 2017 – Simultaneity of events, CCA Znaki Czasu, Toruń; Its white feathers, lighted sun shone as the sun itself", Henryk Gallery, Kraków; Phoenix Syndrom, Szara Gallery, Katowice
- 2016 – Second Skin, Gdańsk City Gallery, Gdańsk; A rebours, Labirynt Gallery, Lublin
- 2015 – What is hidden, National Gallery of Art, Sopot
- 2014 – Triennal of Youngs Art, Centre of Polish Sculpture, Orońsko; Survival, art review, Wrocław; Milk Teeth, Baszta Czarownic, Słupsk
- 2013 – Painting Biennale Bielska Jesień, BWA Bielsko Biala; Fish Eye Young Art Biennial 7, Baltic Gallery of Contemporary Art; Greetings from Kato, Rondo Sztuki, Katowice; Milk Teeth, BWA Katowice
- 2011 – Grenzgänger, Marke.6, Neuen Museum, Weimar, Germany; Very Bad Wolf, Nova Gallery, Kraków; Anyone saw anyone knows, CCA Kronika, Bytom; Participation in the cultural programme of the Polish Presidency in EU
- 2010 – Reptilians, BWA Katowice
Sources: bazowska.com, artystycznapodrozhestii.pl, zacheta.art.pl
Written by Agnieszka Sural, 30 June 2017, Translated by NC