Not your Average Rooster – Contemporary Rooster Art by emerging Canadian artist Alicja Hlibowicka.

The founder of Roosters and Art, Alicja wants to bring more colour and happiness to the world through her creations. She specialises in birds, especially roosters and chickens. Her signature style consists of doodle-like bird characters painted with loose brushwork in acrylics. There is an element of a light-hearted social commentary in her works, but what is most intriguing about her paintings are the personal stories that they tell. The artist turns people she meets into colourful birds on canvas in an attempt to capture their various personalities. Read my interview with the artist to discover more.

Alicja
Alicja Hlibowicka

When did you start painting? Did you study art in school?

I am mostly self-taught, but I always liked to draw, paint and create things. As a child I always found something to draw, for example I drew many childish portraits of my grandma during my visits to Poland (Alicja’s parents are Polish, she was born in Tunisia and grew up in Canada). I also studied art in secondary school where my final portfolio consisted of twelve pieces of works (focusing on art and fashion) in response to a set topic. Later on, I studied marketing and finance and then I moved to Europe. First, I lived in Prague for about a year, then I moved to Luxembourg where I currently live and work. It was in Prague when I first started painting the roosters.

david
David the Rooster by Alicja Hlibowicka (2016)

Why roosters?

The first rooster painting that I did was David. David is my former neighbour with a very striking personality. Somehow it just felt right, the flamboyant yet highly confident bird captured his character very well. Funny enough, roosters are very trivial animals. We find them everywhere in culture, folk art and our daily lives; we eat chickens but we don’t give them much thought. So I felt I could play with it. In my life whatever I am passionate about, I do. Moreover, I want to have a great time doing it! That’s how my first rooster painting came to life. When I moved to Luxembourg I had nowhere to keep this painting at first so I put it on the wall in my office and told my colleagues that David had just joined the team 😉 I also made another painting of a chicken, David’s supposed girlfriend Irina whom I never met. I imagined her from David’s stories. Both David the rooster and Irina the flirty chicken stayed in the office and one day someone saw them and asked if I could paint them a copy. After that I started thinking more seriously about becoming an artist and that is how the project Roosters and Art was born (you can check the website here).

chicken on white
Irina the flirty chicken by Alicja Hlibowicka

Your roosters are very playful. Do you find it easy to use birds as representative of human traits?

I paint the people I meet in my travels, people I know very well and even people of popular culture. If guys call us girls chicks, why can’t we call the guys roosters? I am inspired by fashion, people’s personalities and colour – I feel that roosters and birds work well for me. (The roosters in Alicja’s paintings and drawings enjoy life, they use smartphones and fashion accessories. They have fun travelling, or they are on a search for the golden egg). Sometimes when I visit art galleries, I have a feeling that the art on display lacks a story and experience. A story is a very important element for me. My roosters (and chickens) all have names after the people they represent, and particular stories attached to them. I think this makes the art more interesting, captures attention and makes it relatable to my audience. When the fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld died earlier this year, I was very moved as I admired his work and his personality! This prompted me to paint his portrait as a rooster accompanied by his cat Choupette. I thought it was a nice tribute to him, and I was a bit sad when I sold the painting and had to part with it.

karl
Karl and Choupette by Alicja Hlibowicka (2019)

You live and work in Europe now. Did this move from Canada change your perspective as an artist?

In Europe I became more free which allowed me to be more creative. I felt that Europe was much more ‘artsy’. I was definitely exposed to more art here, in contrast with my hometown in Canada.

In my own practice I like to create a conversation between the viewer and the art piece; it works when you structure your message well. Our brains are image-focused, but there needs to be a story too. That way you create a permanent dialogue with the piece, even for years to come. Most importantly, I want my art to be happy and full of good vibes.

travelling roosters
Roosters searching for the Golden Egg, sketch by Alicja Hlibowicka (2016)

Do you paint in acrylics only or do you work with other media too? What are you working on now?

Yes, I work predominantly with acrylic paint, occasionally I try different media. I also put my roosters on tote bags and luggage and I am planning to do more art objects accompanied by playful drawings. I am also currently working on more rooster paintings and planning an exhibition in the future, which will combine painting and art in other media, with rooster theme of course!

What is also cool! My art has been accepted into Amazon’s Merch programme, which will enable me to put my roosters onto T-shirts and sweaters! This is real honour and I hope I can reach an even bigger audience with my work. Currently, I have the US and UK stores up, and my German store will be available soon.

US link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07QZVFBRC

UK link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07R69K974

Check the artist’s website here:

https://www.roostersandart.com/

All images courtesy of the artist.

 

 

 

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