“It was Szajna who infected me with the idea of a total art theater.”
Tracing Fly’s Academic and Inspirational Pathways
Alexandra Holownia, commonly known as Fly, embarks on a distinguished journey within the vast spectrum of visual arts. Born in Poland, Fly’s exploration of her artistic passion has been shaped by a tapestry of academic endeavors and enlightening personal experiences. After earning her design credentials from the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznań, the artist extended her academic pursuit to Postgraduate Studies in Warsaw. Furthermore, the Berlin University of Art welcomed her, where Holownia delved into Art in Context.
Within the hallowed halls of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, Fly was mentored by Jozef Szajna, a luminary in the Polish author’s theater. Szajna exposed Holownia to the world of total art theater, a realm where an artist orchestrates every facet, from scriptwriting to set design and even performing. While traditional theaters didn’t offer the artist a platform for such an encompassing approach, Fly absorbed this philosophy, weaving it seamlessly into her subsequent art performances.
Alexandra Holownia: The Genesis of Fly’s Theatrical Imaginations
From her earliest years, Fly’s artistic muse was ignited by the shimmering world of celebrities, especially silver screen legends like Marilyn Monroe and Sophia Loren. This allure of cinema translated into Holownia’s keen interest in crafting costumes, which became her voice, harmonizing her unique blend of introversion and extroversion. Her mother’s fervor for theater further nurtured Fly’s passion. The artist recounts treasured memories of youthful sojourns to Warsaw’s Palac Kultury, where theatrical narratives captivated her heart. Plays like Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen” etched monochromatic visuals into her psyche, visuals that would later manifest in her work.
However, 1986 marked a pivotal juncture in her artistic evolution. At Dziekanka Studio in Warsaw, Fly presented “Nighttown” from James Joyce’s “Ulysses”. In partnership with Studio Kineo and Krzysztof Hyzy’s Pantomime group, Holownia introduced sculptural costumes that mime artists donned for the show. These soft sculpture outfits became emblematic of her art. Many of Alexandra’s performances spotlight these intricate designs, underscoring the feminist tales she crafts herself. Her artistic tapestry further glistens with collaborations, notably with French composer Anne Germanique since 2020.
Fly’s Artistic Mélange and Societal Undertones
To pin down Fly’s artistic expression to a singular style would be a disservice to her multifaceted talent. The performances from Alexandra Holownia strike chords resonating with both Dada and Storytelling. Holownia’s costumes, vivid and vibrant, borrow their essence from Pop Art, while her drawings whisper tales of Surrealism. An epitome of her eclectic creations, the “Box of Love” sculpture, proudly rests within the Flux Museum collection in Fort Worth, Texas. Fly’s renown has spanned across borders, showcasing her brilliance at esteemed venues like the Kaunas Biennale and the 2022 Biennale of Art in Venice.
The heart of Holownia’s work pulses with a fervent desire to challenge the patriarchal framework, age-related bias against women, and the overt sexualization of women and girls in media. Simultaneously, Fly emphasizes the paramount importance of preserving art from political appropriation. A project that stands testament to her audacious spirit is “Alexandra Fly Walking and Alexandra Fly Dancing.” In costumes symbolizing female anatomy, the artist graced international stages, such as the FIAC Art Fair in Paris and Art Basel Miami Beach. Spanning from 2007 to 2019, this venture delved into society’s perceptions of the female form, capturing significant media limelight.
Alexandra Holownia: Drawing Inspiration from Surroundings and Mentors
For Alexandra, the process of creation thrives in tranquility. Her residence doubles up as her artistic haven, brimming with the tools of her trade – props, costumes, materials, and vital equipment. Though she possesses a distinct studio space dedicated to storage, Fly often seeks inspiration beyond her workspace’s bounds. The simple pleasures, like walking her dog or journeying to various global destinations, replete with flea markets and artist residencies, feed her creativity.
While the teachings of Józef Szajna imprinted upon her early on, Fly’s inspiration well runs deep. It is enriched by a confluence of artists and filmmakers, names like Andrzej Wajda, Werner Herzog, and Federico Fellini come to mind. In her exploration of feminist narratives, Holownia feels an affinity to visionaries like Louise Bourgeois, Yayoi Kusuma, and Annette Messager. Further, the burgeoning movement of Vulva Art captivates her, with installations at the Vagina Museum in London drawing her keen interest. The artist’s voyage has been a symphony of experiences, inspirations, and revelations. Each creation, a mirror to Holownia’s ethos, unfolds a tale intimately woven into her soul’s fabric.