Artists do tend to look like tortured souls, bless them. You might think this is due to a lack of money (apart from a select few such as Damien Hirst, who as Liberace quipped is “crying all the way to the bank”), or for stylistic effect. Actually, it’s because a bit of personal turmoil does wonders for the creative processes, as Polish artist Olek was to discover in 2011. A kerfuffle with a bloke at a London bar led to her being placed under house arrest, but rather than sit around watching Jeremy Kyle and Friends re-runs all day, Olek decided to think positive with her crochet – spurred on by creative impetus and lawyers’ fees – and turned out the work that forms The End is Far, on display at the Jonathan Levine Gallery in her adopted New York City until 23rd March.
Olek’s stitching varies in form – both panel work and sculpture feature – and the tone of the messages she conveys, while diverse, lean towards the positive, if not always outright cheery. Prime examples are the pragmatic take on the romantic cliché “All you need is love and money”, the life-loving optimism of the titular “The end is far” to the rather un-Hallmark but real common vernacular of the Valentine’s Day slogan “I love the shit out of you”. And who said romance is dead? Even Olek’s skeletons look happier than a skeleton ought to, adorned with her fine and colourful needlework. We’re certainly hooked.