Agata Sulikowska, born in 1982 in Namyslow/Poland. She is a graduate of the Wladyslaw Strzeminski Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Lodz, Poland. Since she has been traveling the world and does not feel very patriotic. She describes herself as “nomad artist”. Since a few years, she lives and works in Tromso, Norway.
Over the last years her most common subject is “the contemporary man”, as she calls it. She painted people in bars or cafes, in the streets, capturing scenes and relations. However, her most recent paintings have started going in a slightly different direction – representing more symbolic settings, including her dreams and historical events. “The style that I consider most comparable to mine is impressionism and German expressionism”, she says. Her use of bold strokes, unrealistic colors, chosen not to depict life as it is, but how she beholds it, being the main reason. “I play with gesture and illusion.”
A source of inspiration for Agata are Northern Lights. Particularly those in Norway. “The colors have an impact on what shades I use in my work, which is dominated by different tones of blue and green”, she says. Most of her paintings are made on canvas, using acrylics and oil. Some select pieces also carry sound – an effect of collaborating with artists from different fields. Examples include: The Dance of Reality 2017, La Folie Des Grandeurs 2017, Alter Ego 2018, and an installation made for an art festival in Poland “Out of Cycle Province 18”, the sound carries recorded traditional form of a song in Sami music, known as joik, made by Nicko-Mihkal Valkeapaa (Finland).
Throughout her career, observing the work of other contemporary artists – like Fernando Botero, Noe Rauch and Angela Dufresne, to name a few – has given Agata the energy to get better and work towards a “masterpiece” of her own. “I like to contemplate, drink yerba mate and look at other artists’ works on social media or my favorite painting albums before I start a new painting”, as she explains. “This practice brings out a strong desire in me to create… I get a sort of energy from the photographed pieces.”
A particularly important person to Agata is Pawel Hanjcel – known in Poland as a “Człowiek Motyl” (“Butterfly Man”). The artist, practicing as well as a art-teacher, creates drawings, illustrations and paintings inspired by Polish social, political and cultural life. His work provided Agata with a way to communicate with and confront her Polish roots. “By prosecuting the absurd deeds and stupidity of decision-makers, religious functionaries and the cultural elite”, she says. The provocation of Polish people to reflect upon the problem in a non-destructive and inoffensive manner is inspiring for Agata. She admires Hnajdel’s rebellious and uncompromising way to express himself. As well as his sense of humor.
Agata has traveled the world seeking new impulses and inspirations everywhere. While traveling, the themes of her paintings oscillated around friendship, music and pleasure. Some of them depicting ethnographic scenes of people across different cultures, such as: Peruvian Lady Selling Carpets in Pisac-Peru 2013 and Peruvian Passengers 2013. “I also learn a lot from going to museums and galleries”, Agata says.
Beyond her “regular” artistic work, she tries to raise awareness for political issues. Her piece Amazigh (Berber) People Manifesting in Madrid 2015 is a good example of this. In 2018 Agata donated it to the University of Tromsø faculty of Peace and Conflict Transformation (MPCT). “The painting alluded to Moroccan emigrants who settled in Madrid, Spain”, she explains. “The Spanish government wanted to take away their housing in order to build expensive hotels.” The artist’s intention was to arouse empathy from young people. Especially those studying social sciences. Agata is deeply convinced that art can touch on the problems touching its beholders. “I reflect on contemporary issues such as meat consumption’s impact on the environment and monogamy in times of Tinder”, she says.
Since the start of the pandemic, Agata’s painting have started to reflect even more symbolic and surrealist settings using the stream of her own consciousness, what she sees and hears in the present moment. For example: Gambling 2020, The Jews-Family Constellation 2020 or Dream 2021. She also makes videos and takes photos. Most recently, she started re-interpreting old masterpieces like: Orgy in Kysten 2021 (William Hogarh, 1732/1734), The Norwegians of the Decadence 2021 (Thomas Couture, 1847), The Luncheon on the Grass – Back to the Cave Times 2021 (Edouard Manet 1862/1863). Another painting is a reinterpretation Jacques-Louis David’s, “The Intervention of the Sabine Woman” from 1799. Sulikowska started this painting on February 24th, 2022 when Russia started the war in Ukraine. In her view history repeats itself constantly – in the XXI century in a very savage way.