Magda Blasinska: Owl Mountain

30 May - 6 July 2024

Owl Mountain alludes to the myth of the Nazi train of looted treasure that went missing during WWII and is believed to be buried in passages beneath Owl Mountains, Central Sudetes, Southwestern Poland. The myth has endured, without evidence, since the war. Its persistent popularity speaks of the allure of the unreachable and our want to imagine treasures greater than those we can see.


Allure and questions of meaning and value are themes central to the work of Magda Blasinska. Working with a restrained palette, her paintings offer a rich surface appeal, ranging from comforting textures to a lustre reminiscent of precious objects, oil painted jewels, gilt and finery. These same paintings also imply another more distant and unreachable value. The looping forms and repetitive marks are reminiscent of spiritual and totemic objects. Blasinska builds a world that speaks of perspective and scale beyond ours, of the impossibly large and incomprehensibly small, and of treasure just beyond reach.


The show’s title Owl Mountain also references the looping presence of owls in Twin Peaks, widely broadcasted in Poland in early 90s and hugely popular. In Twin Peaks, ‘The owls are not what they seem’ is a recurring pointer towards an even more mysterious realm, a world behind the world. This slipperiness of meaning echoes how television had been used to shape narratives just a few years prior during Communism: how these stories often sat uneasily beside experienced reality, and against the backdrop of Catholicism and rural folklore.


This layering of meaning is evident in the artist imposing sculptural straw work. She labours at the source, reworking folkloric influences and honouring mundane with a minimal restraint. Here, the wheat reed, a humble and understated material becomes transformed into something other and unfamiliar: a looming presence, iconic and watchful.


Blasinska’s wheat reed installation follows time spent working with Master Thatchers in Devon and third generation corn dolly weavers in rural Poland. The artist’s most recent work cross-polinates two distant disciplines (thatch and painting), binding her sensory experiences into a distinct visual language, which transmits the sense of wonder.


Magda Blasinska (b. 1983) was born in Ilza, Poland and now lives and works in London. She studied MA Painting from Royal College of Art (2018) and BA in Drawing and Painting from Edinburgh College or Art (2009). Recent exhibitions include Bread, OHSH Projects, London 2024; Cinnamon Shops, Govan Project Space, Glasgow 2023 (Solo)