The Bad Artists Imitate
The Great Artists Steal

Gallery II
Solo Exhibition
08/10/2011 through 08/27/2011

NEW YORK, NY (July 12, 2011) — Jonathan LeVine Gallery is proud to present The Bad Artists Imitate, The Great Artists Steal, new works by Polish-born, New York-based artist Olek, in what will be her first solo exhibition at the gallery. The Bad Artists Imitate, The Great Artists Steal features a site-specific installation with a new series of crochet sculptures and canvases. The title of the exhibition refers to a work created by world-renowned British street artist Banksy for his 2009 Bristol Museum show, in which he carved a quote by Pablo Picasso into stone, crossed out the late artist’s name and replaced it with his own.

A prolific practitioner of performance and public art (both authorized and unauthorized), Olek has covered people and various objects with crochet—from bicycles and cars to Wall Street’s iconic Charging Bull sculpture. One series is an homage to Banksy’s stenciled silhouette of a girl suspended in air, holding balloons which he placed on the West Bank barrier of the Israeli-Palestine border in 2005 (seen in context, the figure appears to be floating up in order to cross over to the other side). Covering the balloon girl with her signature camouflage-patterned crochet work in brightly-colored yarn, Olek placed her Banksy tribute series in locations around New York. The artist has created a new black & white version of the piece for her gallery exhibition.

Following the inspiration/appropriation theme, additional works in the show play off images and words made famous by various celebrity icons, featuring a camouflage crochet pattern in grayscale, rather than the fluorescent palette typical of Olek’s previous work. A 1986 Keith Haring portrait by photographer Annie Leibovitz—in which the artist’s body and entire room surrounding him was painted white with black line work—is re-created in a three-dimensional installation. Other works include objects relating to the subjects as well as canvases on which Olek has crocheted the text of provocative quotes such as “Well behaved women rarely make history” by Marilyn Monroe, and “If I go down on my knees, it is not to pray,” by Madonna.

About the artist

Olek was born Agata Oleksiak in 1978 in Poland. In 2000, she received a BA in Cultural Studies from Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland, and relocated to New York City, where she is currently based. Olek’s work has been exhibited in galleries, museums and public spaces worldwide, and featured in numerous publications such as The New York Times, New York Magazine, Artforum,TimeOut New York ,TIME Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, ARTINFO, The Huffington Post, Newsweek, The Daily Beast, Village Voice, CNN, ABC News, CBS News and NBC News. Olek is the recipient of awards including the Ruth Mellon Award for sculpture in 2004, In Situ Artaq award (France) in 2011, and a grant in 2011 from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) for performance in public space. Olek’s residencies have included Sculpture Space in 2005, Instituto Sacatar (Brazil) in 2009 and AAI-LES in 2010. In 2008, Olek was the winner of the Apex Art competition, which aired on PBS. In 2010, the artist was commissioned by the Brooklyn Museum of Art for a one-day interactive performance installation. In 2012, Olek was part of the 40 Under 40: Craft Futures exhibition at the Smithsonian, for which her entire crocheted studio apartment was exhibited.

Opening Photos