- born 1943
- born in Kielce
- lives and works in New York and Warsaw
- specialises in painting, posters and illustrations
“Art is a mirror held up to our dreams and desires”.
He studied at the Faculty of Architecture of Warsaw University of Technology and obtained his diploma there in 1969. In 1981, he moved to Paris and, a year later, to New York. He gave lectures at School of Visual Art in New York and Tyler School of Art of Temple University in Philadelphia. He is one of the best known Polish poster artists in the world.
He has presented his works in many individual exhibitions organised all around the world: in Belgium, Chile, China, France, Holland, Israel, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Germany, Portugal, the United States, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Venezuela and Italy (Amsterdam, Antwerp, Berlin, Calgary, Caracas, Chicago, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Frankfurt am Main, Guanajuato, Hamburg, Harbin, Katonah, Cologne, Lisbon, London, Lucca, Martina Franca, Milan, Nagoya, New York, New Orleans, Paris, Beijing, San Francisco, Santiago, Seattle, Springfield, Stamford, Strasburg, Tel Aviv, Tokyo and Zurich), as well as in Poland (Gdańsk, Kielce, Legnica, Łódź, Toruń, Warka, Warzaw and Wrocław).
The most important prizes and distinctions: 1st Prize in the Human Rights Institute competition, Strasburg, 1976; Prix Savignac, Paris, 1994; Oscar for the most significant poster of the year, 1994; award of the “Creative Review” magazine in London for the best British illustration, 1994; 1st Prize for the poster “New York City Capital of the World”, 1995; The Big Crit Prize 2000 awarded by the “Critique Magazine”, San Francisco, 2000; Premio Divina Guilia Prize of Fondia in Italy for outstanding contribution to modern art, 2002; Gold Medal of “Merits to Culture – Gloria Artis”, 2006.
Rafał Olbiński is inspired by the figurative movement of surrealist painting, including in particular the painting of Salvador Dali and René Magritte. He is also under the influence of metaphysical painting, Pre-Raphaelites and Italian painting of Quattrocento. A precise line bringing out the volume of forms as well as colour applied locally, strictly within the outline, reveal a sterile “porcelain” reality, filled with characters, objects and animals, arranged in amazing relations. The world presented in his works has the nature of imaginary, poetic reality taken from the area of dreams. This world of classic beauty charms and allures the senses, but is also provoking and intriguing. The magic space attracts with its perfectness and surprises with its ambiguity of meaning of the presented motifs – for, there is a paradox between presenting the theme in a serious manner and a frivolous aura emanating from the presentation. For this reason, various interpretation clues are multiplied in the perception process.