In this season’s fad for staging mythical woodland scenes in the gallery, Olowska’s project stands out for using the human form unadulterated. In outsized oil paintings, paper collages, and even on mannequins, Olowska models the forest adventures of a cast of five stereotypically Slavic children. They climb trees, sail down the mountain river on log rafts, and forage about in late winter landscapes. A series of quirky video objects set in hand-carved frames typical of Tatra mountain handicraft has them prostrated for the camera and provides a wild soundtrack to the exhibition.
Olowska is known for her investment in the mountain mythos and the 1930s artist villa in Poland which she renovated has inspired such interest in numerous others, including some of Europe’s best-known art collectors. But that the folk rituals – the springtime drowning of Marzanna, the straw effigy of winter and death, for example – flagged up by the gallery text check out does not compensate for the exhibition’s lacklustre curation. It should be within the resources of Pace and Olowska’s experience to advance her legend beyond the discretely marketable. Presented without context, the work enchants little.