OLGA URBANEK                   


Born near Warsaw in 1987, Olga Urbanek is a digital photographer who explores the space between reality and fantasy, the familiar and the bizarre. Her alluring photos, often self-portraits marked by hallucinatory colors, costuming, and meticulously prepared settings, create bright dreamlands that bely a darkness within them. There’s a subtle perverse humor in Urbanek’s work - bodies are often serene, yet also oddly twisted. In Urbanek’s images, a body isn’t just a body, and eroticism is a means to disrupt a traditional gaze of the female form. These intimate moments are often contrasted with averted faces and personal movements, seemingly unaware the camera even exists. Yet the photographer’s post-production choices suggest they are born from a post-AI, post-Capitalist era, playfully aware of their own creation and influences, as well as the spaces they might be viewed, both online and off. 




Urbanek’s use of technology aims to expose the technology her results rely on, rather than hide it. In this practice of contradictions, intensity meets tranquility, soft grace meets sudden sharpness. Even though her work is bold and exposed on the surface, Urbanek’s positions and forms often imply a theme of self-protection and vulnerability. Within this world, Urbanek’s work often teases the question: what does freedom look like? The answer is neither static nor obvious. In the same way, as seen through Urbanek’s nearly exclusive use of female subjects, a narrative thread of the powerful feminine weaves through her work, an energy that exudes both strength and tenderness. Much of Urbanek’s work is shot at home, adding to the sense that her work is one of self-empowerment as much as self-portraiture. In this time of avatar escapism and fetishization, Urbanek borrows this visual language to do the opposite: use masks and guises as a gateway to humanity.




Photography, Neue Schule für Fotografie, Berlin, Germany

TV and Film Production, Academy of Film and Television, Warsaw, Poland

Art History, Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University, Warsaw, Poland




Bodies#2, group show (Berlin, 2024) Bodies, group show (Berlin, 2023), Portrait of The Self, group show (Bangkok, 2023), Dreamscapes contours, solo show (Berlin, 2023), Hidden actions, group show (Warsaw, 2023),  Peep Show, group show (Berlin, 2023), Sony World Photography Awards, Somerset House (London, 2022), Month of Photography, group show (Los Angeles, 2019), Sony World Photography Awards, Somerset House (London, 2019), The Independent Photographer Annual Exhibition, group show (Berlin, 2018), Portraits Without Faces, PH 21 Gallery, group show (Budapest, 2018)




3rd Prize of ND Photography Awards 2024 - People category, Finalist Sony World Photography Awards 2022 - Portraiture category (Open competition), 1st Prize Winner of The Independent Photographer Portrait Photography Award 2018, 1st Prize Winner of Chromatic Awards 2018 in Fine Art, Finalist Sony World Photography Awards 2019 - Portraiture category (Open competition), Finalist The Independent’s Photographer’s Black and White Awards 2020, Finalist The Independent Photographer Portrait Awards 2021




The Washington Post (USA), Vogue (Germany) Vogue (Italy), Vogue (Poland), Acumen (France), Elle magazine (Poland), Vice magazine (Poland), Art Monitor (Poland), PAP Magazine (Italy), Usta magazine (Poland), HA magazine (Iceland), KMAG magazine (Poland), The Kunst magazine (USA), The Kalblut magazine (Germany), Aesthetica magazine (UK), Wysokie Obcasy (Poland),  Sony World Photography Awards book (UK), Phroom magazine (Italy), C41 magazine (Italy)


WORKS [ Selection ]

All the works can be purchased here