More Human Than Human

An oil painting series.

More Human than Human is a science-fiction art series of oil paintings exploring questions on medicine, technology, the body through the pop culture appeal of robots combined with academic painting techniques and the artist’s research and experience with disabilities. The series adresses topics in transhumanism and human evolution while making use of aspects of the renaissance art style.

More Human Than Human

This science-fiction art series of oil paintings started in 2017 as a test project and matured into the concept above; it may change further in the future and paintings will be added to this page. The end goal is to create 10-12 paintings for an exhibition. If you’d like to participate by sharing an experience or potentially showing related artwork as guest pieces in the exhibit or you are a gallery that would like to show this exhibition, feel free to contact me.

Artist Statement

It was only a few decades ago that a partial impairment of eye sight was seen a major disability to be corrected with a medical apparatus rather than an everyday problem we treat with stylish eyewear. Eyeglasses have changed so much they are no longer a medical device, but a trendy and sophisticated accessory that expresses personality. The journey of eye glasses can serve as an example for the potential of other types of prosthetic devices, such as those for amputees. Combined with rapid advancement in robotics, prostheses are already heading in this direction and posing complicated questions.

If prostheses can become commonplace and become another avenue of individual expression, how does this change our perception of our bodies and our abilities? What happens if these types of prostheses become a fashion statement and are used even when not absolutely necessary? How normal will it be to alter the body? How will they affect what we perceive as athletic achievement? What additional abilities can they grant? Most importantly, how does a shift from human to cyborg affect our perception of humanity, illness and life?

The Oil Paintings

Heavy Shoulders in Sunset

30″ x 40″ x 1″ oil painting on white canvas, painted in 2017.

A muscular woman stretches her tired back that’s been weighed down by her heavy, metallic arms all day in the warm light of sunset on the edge of her bed. The arms are both a superpower and a burden. The strength and mobility they grant is matched by the strength and endurance needed just to use them day to day.

Heavy Shoulders in Sunset Painting
Heavy Shoulders in Sunset - Context Photo

Lamentation of Gaia

36″ x 24″ x 1″ oil on white canvas, painted in 2018.

Making use of classical composition and poses from Renaissance portraits and biblical art of pieta, this original oil painting combines lighting from American Western art to create a post-apocalyptic atmosphere in a junkyard with god-like figures. The figures are the duality of life and death, human mortality and superhuman power, as well as renewal and decay. With technology and medicine, this is the tumultuous relationship we are forging with our bodies.

More Human Than Human by Karolina Szablewska
Oil on 1″ canvas. 36″x24″. ~2018

Make It Work

30″ x 36″ x 1″ oil on white canvas, painted in 2019.

make it work oil painting of greek statue with robot arms
30″x36″, oil on 1″ canvas ~2019

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This series is a work in progress. Currently, I’m limited by space. My little art studio can’t support so many large scale oil paintings drying at once! As it’s an on-going project, I continue to refine my ideas as well instead of painting whatever comes to mind.

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