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SECOND SKIN

THE ART AND WRAP OF OLEK

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The Montréal Review, July 2012

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"Men in general judge more by the eye than the hand, as all can see but few can feel," a well-known political thinker advised his sovereign, Lorenzo de' Medici, who happened to be the son of one of the most prominent patrons of art ever.

How we look, how we behave, our clothes and words are what others judge when they see us. Our appearance is our second skin-it is the net connecting us to others, it is what makes us visible. Yet, the appearance, as everyone knows, is not what an object or a person really is. Nor it is a sure way to attract attention.

Olek, a Polish born artist, now based in New York, seems to be fascinated by the "second skin"-the outer expressions of people and objects. Instead to uncover human souls and objects' meanings, as many artists do, she crochets them under layers of yarn. Today, her motley wraps of people, sculptures, and objects can be seen in contemporary art galleries, city streets, and public spaces.

Sometimes her wraps make things seem more innocent than they really are-like the covered bull on Wall Street, or mystic like the man in the shopping cart on the sidewalk of a New York street.

The common in Olek's art are the bright colors and the plasticity of her objects. She says that in her work she seeks to bring colour and life, energy and surprise. She succeeds. Her art makes even the most ordinary objects animated. Her crochets make people and things visible, bright and desired. Her obsession is to cover finished objects such as real men and women, cars, household appliances, and park benches. In the colourful skin of yarn, every object looks remarkable, interesting, it makes us want to reveal its meaning.

"You have to pull the end of the yarn and unravel the story behind the crochet," Olek says. Her colourful nets connect us with the things we see. And now we are ready not only to judge them by the eye, but also to feel them.

Olek's work can be seen in Montreal at Gallerie NuEdge, 1480 Sherbrooke West (www.galerienuedge.com). To learn more about Olek's art, please visit: www.agataolek.com

T.S.Tsonchev, The Montreal Review

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