“WILDERING,” paintings by Basia Krol

White Bog (Pink), oil, metal leaf on panel, 24 x 24” © Basia Krol

For artist Basia Krol, Wildering describes a re-awakening of self-identity through active observation of nature. Painted largely during the pandemic, Krol finds a grounding connection in the landscape of Central Illinois.

In the early months of the pandemic, uncertainty and instability cast a long shadow over our daily activities. Working as a special education paraprofessional, Krol was temporarily sidelined when schools closed in 2020. Suddenly without a job to go to, Krol had access to unstructured time and the opportunity to re-focus on her painting. 

“When COVID came, everyone experienced loss and isolation. I developed a sense of urgency like I had never experienced before. It’s like a Heideggerian existential shift: the act of being intensified by lurking nothingness,” muses Krol.  

Her new appreciation for landscape painting began after a trip to the Indiana Dunes in June of 2020. Krol became entranced by a bog in the distance; the reflected sunlight creating a sheen of white and silver over the water, dead trees standing in stark relief as black, almost figure-like, markers of space. She returned to her studio and quickly created her first bog painting, similar to “White Bog (Pink)”. Having painted figures and symbolic or magical realist works in the recent past, the urge to paint this almost primeval scene became a reclamation of landscape painting for Krol who says with a smile, “I guess I went back to landscapes when I was ready to paint landscapes.” 

Over the last two years, Krol has been working almost exclusively from scenes she has photographed of Indiana Dunes Park and Woodland View farm, where the owners created a vast prairie restoration. While photographs act as a resource and reference for her studio work, it is through meditation and being present to her experience of nature that Krol is able to create the sense of connection to the natural world communicated in her painting. 

“Great Marsh,” oil on panel, 36 x 36″ © Basia Krol

Contemplation of the land, its cycles and seasons, are fundamental to Krol’s latest body of work. Krol’s exploration of the painting medium builds from visceral, textured abstraction of marshy bogs and prairies to sinuous descriptions of tree limbs with glassy reflections in clear creeks. Throughout, Krol cultivates a loose, responsive handling of paint that conveys a sense of immediacy and dynamism.

In the painting, “Into the Golden Woods,” a canopy of golden leaves leads the viewer toward a secluded view of rocky earth and tree limbs bordering a clear creek which reflects the sky. The scene is charged with a sense of mystery, softly levitating strokes of yellow and pale green leaves suggest an open invitation to be present in the now. The trees in Krol’s work could be read as conduits, connecting land and sky, bearing witness to change and the passage of time, their limbs gently leading us toward the wildering and un-knowing places where a deeper sense of acceptance and renewal can be found. 

About the Artist:

Basia Krol was born and raised in Warsaw, Poland. She studied painting and printmaking at Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts. She currently lives and works in Galesburg, Illinois, where she finds inspiration in the local prairie nature preserves.