Lena Achtelik

born 1989

Lena Achtelik produces objects and installations, designs art books, and above all, paints. She graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Katowice, where she is currently working on her PhD. In her painting, she takes up thanatological themes: she is interested in funereal rituals, the process of mourning, the labour of memory, and materiality as the medium of absence. She often paints clothing motionless in specific poses, but deprived of its owner, and focuses on details such as jewellery that once belonged to someone else. In her creative practice Achtelik references historical portrait painting, whose cultural function was commemorating ancestors. However, she radically changes its meaning. The use of a dark palette of colours transforms the image — instead of celebrating presence, it becomes the medium of disappearance. Her protagonists are often headless, as if their images signify not so much a particular body, but the labour of memory and the state — how they were remembered. The artist emphasizes that paintings are to her a particular form of a struggle against absence — an attempt to celebrate the presence of death. The young women depicted on the canvas presented at the exhibition, resemble apparitions emerging from darkness rather than living creatures — the only human attributes are their hands.

Show description