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.