Polish artist Agnieszka Nienartowicz uses oil paints to create incredibly realistic portraits of women. But these aren't just any women, they are women shown with elaborate tattoos. Draped across their backs are incredibly detailed compositions inspired by classical art. From Hieronymus Bosch to Guido Reni, the Old Masters see their masterpieces interpreted in a new, contemporary manner.
We first discovered Nienartowicz's work several years ago, when she used Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights as the inspiration for an elegant oil painting. At the time, she was a recent art school graduate showing immense promise. Over time, she's more than delivered on that promise and with each passing year, her canvases continue to inspire awe and make an impression. Each piece is imbued with a keen sense of spirituality that reflects Nienartowicz's own sensibilities.
By permanently adorning these women with such historical and religious imagery, an emotional charge is brought to the paintings. In this way, Nienartowicz is able to use the weight of historical art while also bringing it into the 21st century. And when diving into the details of each canvas, there is a new appreciation for the artist's ability to skillfully paint in a classical manner. With barely perceptible brushstrokes, she gives a faithful rendition of the classical composition—and does so on a miniature scale.
That miniaturism contrasts with her ability to create the human form and clothing in a remarkably realistic manner. Thus, each canvas is a masterclass in oil painting. By marrying technical skill with emotional impact, she is pushing the boundaries of what we can expect from contemporary art. Though many often associate contemporary with abstract, Nienartowicz's work proves that figurative oil painting can be just as cutting-edge.