Malwina Chabocka

I'm a figurative painter trained at Central Saint Martins in London and Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, Poland. I live with two adorable cats and a software architect in Saska Kępa ('Saxon Meadow'), a lovely old part of Warsaw. I am ponderous, adventurous and sentimental. I listen to French radio, collect vintage pottery, and enjoy long baths. I have lived in London, Lisbon and Warsaw, and participated in solo and group exhibitions. I have developed site-specific art events, graphic design for short films, and set design for theatre productions. Painting is not my job. It's my way of life.
Full biography
I loved to paint from the moment I was able to hold a crayon. Early on I specialised in art interventions – I would draw princesses with oversized heads in my older sister’s notebooks when she wasn’t looking and, completely unauthorised, cover my cousin’s bedroom wall in odd creatures. My first art commission happened at the nursery when I was about 5 years old. When my parents came to pick me up, no children were in sight -- strange, as normally they would run as fast as they could to meet the parents and get the hell out of this pretty grim institution. It turned out that they were all upstairs, queueing in front of a desk to get a drawing of a bunny which I was making with the efficiency, patience and dedication of a best-selling author on a book signing tour. I drew and painted a lot when I was a child and a teenager, but the moment I decided to actively pursue art was around the age of 17. I signed up to weekend art classes at Academy of Fine Arts in Wrocław, a city which was over 6 hours away on the train from my home, and for a year I’d spend every other weekend drawing and painting nudes and still life from early morning to late evening. I still have plenty of sketchbooks with drawings of hands, feet and various compositions of draperies and kettles. But my formal art education didn’t actually begin at the Academy of Fine Arts. I first went to London to do a foundation course at Camberwell College of Arts. There is a song (and an album) by a British band, Black Box Recorder, called “England Made Me” and that’s exactly how I felt. Despite my initial plan to return to Poland after the foundation course, I decided to stay in London to do my BA. I was settled on applying for three BA Fine Art courses (at Central Saint Martins and two other prestigious colleges) but the day before sending my application forms, my friend asked me to accompany her to Central Saint Martins as she was going to speak to students from the Theatre: Design for Performance department. I went with her and instantly fell in love with the whimsical world of model boxes and visual storytelling. So that very same afternoon I ran to the college office and changed one of the three course choices for the one I’d just seen . And then, having got accepted at both Fine Art and Theatre: Design for Performance course, I had a few days to make a choice. And I chose the latter. The course, led by Michael Spencer, was like no other. It was so avant-garde that I’ve always had a hard time explaining to anyone what I actually studied. We were not trained to be designers. We were taught to think independently, encouraged to develop our identity and allowed to experiment and fail with no judgement. And we learned to collaborate – to be kind, helpful and constructive with our criticism. In the ego-obsessed snobbish art world, we became artists who were sensitive to the wide world, not enclosed in our little one. After my BA, I went to Warsaw to do my MA at Academy of Fine Arts at its most progressive department of Media Art and Stage Design led by Paweł Dobrzycki, who also supervised my MA thesis. Once again, I was lucky to be taught a professor of great vision and broad horizons, and I was granted individual training, which complemented my London education. The excellent training I received at both Central Saint Martins and Academy of Fine Arts fired my imagination and yearning for independent expression in multiple forms. Thanks to my experiences, I was able to develop my skills and my vision with the assertiveness and courage that is often missing in the fine art world – a world riddled with conventions, trends and unhealthy hierarchies. For a few years following graduation, I worked across several disciplines, gradually identifying and forming my area and language of expression, before making painting my primary focus. I wrote two children’s books, developed site-specific art events, graphic design for short films, and stage design for theatre and operatic productions, including “The Burial at Thebes” opera at Shakespeare’s Globe in London and “The Little Prince” musical at the Musical Theatre ROMA in Warsaw. I worked with some wonderful artists and institutions, including Derek Walcott, Secret Cinema, Rich Mix, Daniel Blau, The Ceramic House, and had my works shown at various galleries and venues, including the William Morris Gallery. In 2018, after my artistic and geographical adventures (I spent over 8 years in London and 1 year in Lisbon) I dedicated myself to figurative painting and settled in Warsaw. I believe that working across fields broadens one’s horizons and enriches one’s work and indeed I am fascinated to see just how much theatre and interdisciplinary work shaped the way I express myself on canvas. Like a theatrical performance, my paintings are meant to move, provoke and engage the viewer. My goal as an artist is to inspire the viewer to embrace the emotional complexity of their psyche, and celebrate the human nature with all its beauty and its ugliness.
Read my Artist Statement