Aga Giecko, Polish illustrator and one of It’s Nice That’s Graduates 2018 is hosting her first solo exhibition in Berlin. We fell in love with Aga’s work last summer, taken by her wobbly, humorous illustrations which are equal parts endearing and cheeky. It was at Camberwell College of Arts that she developed this style, using her illustrations as a way to overcome the language barrier between her and other students.
The upcoming exhibiting is taking place at the Kuratiert Gallery between 5 April and 11 May, and is titled Bauhaus 100. It features drawings, paintings, pins, a zine, and Aga’s signature receipts in a celebration of the iconic school’s centenary. A project that began when she was still studying, we caught up with Aga to find out more about this exciting moment in her career.
It’s Nice That: How did the exhibition come about?
Aga Giecko: It all started last year, while I was studying at Camberwell College of Arts. I have always been a fine art history geek and I spent hours in the library and museums. At some point I started to be really interested in German art and design from the 20th Century. From one book to another, Paul Klee to Marcel Breuer, it was something that occupied my mind for a long time. You can imagine my delight when I looked at the theme list for the first project of my third year and there it was, Bauhaus. I designed an illustrated activity book for children and I had some great plans for it, but ultimately I created only three copies (with blue, red and yellow covers). One of them belongs to my little sister and the other two were a part of our interim show. Since then I’ve known I wanted to do something that would celebrate the 100th anniversary of Bauhaus and I was just looking for ideas.
In January I went to Berlin for a party organised by my partner and his friends. We spent a couple of days, wandering around the city, looking for galleries and record shops. I went to see the last day of Astro Lyrics, a show of Barbara Malagoli’s illustrations at Kuratiert. I stepped inside and immediately fell in love. The gallery space was beautifully curated. I looked around and saw ceramics, prints, stationery from the top-notch artists from all over the world and then I saw the logo: simple, fine design in the spirit of Bauhaus. I knew It was the perfect place. I started talking with Eleanor, the lovely owner and couldn’t believe my luck, she was interested in organising the exhibition. I found the ideal place, a theme and an amazing collaboration opportunity.
INT: How did you generate the ideas and drawings based on the theme of Bauhaus 100?
AG: I started like I always do, with a sketchbook. I already had a great deal of research and initial drawings from the uni project so I just needed to refine everything. I wanted to show Bauhaus designs in my own style and that was a huge challenge because it is already such an established aesthetic. How could I interpret stainless steel tubes, simple shapes, geometric forms in space with my wonky line? I decided to bring them to life with my illustration. I will make them happy, sad, draw them all loved up or arguing, this will be my interpretation and if it makes someone smile or look at Bauhaus differently, that’s great.
INT: Talk us through the objects you chose to illustrate and how you gave them personality.
AG: I started by analysing each of the objects and finding a character. Every single object illustrated in this show has its own personality and a story. For example, the main focus of the poster is the Club Chair (model B.3) by Marcel Breuer, a beautiful composition made of steel and canvas. I thought it looked like it’s floating in space so, in my illustration, it’s swaying, supported by the numbers 1919-2019 and the shadow emphasises the wonderful framework.
I decided to visualise some icons like Bauhaus Manifesto by Walter Gropius, Glass Table Lamp by Jakob Jucker and Wilhelm Wagenfeld or wall hangings by Annie Albers alongside some less known artworks. I wanted to keep a balance between furniture designs, paintings, ceramics, architecture, textiles and even some workshop experiments. I looked through hundreds and hundreds of sketchbook pages and tried to make it interesting and original.
Bauhaus 100 opens at Kuratiert Gallery in Berlin this Friday, 5 April, and remains open until 11 May.
About the Author
Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.