Meet Ludmila Pawlowska
Ludmila Pawlowska’ s parents, known as Soviet dissidents, were exiled from Moscow during the Stalin regime to a gulag in Karanganda, Kasakhstan where Ludmila was born in 1964. Many displaced populations from all over Europe settled in this city of about a million where culture and good schools were visible, exiles were highly educated and where teachers spotted Ludmila early on as a child prodigy.
While Ludmila Pawlowska, who goes by Mila, and her father were not close, her mother was her soul mate and art was her refuge. So, at age 15 Mila left her beloved mother and went to Moscow to attend an art institute where she worked her way into textile design and magazine illustration.
Even though she had no religious upbringing, Mila chose to be baptized when she was 18 in a Russian Orthodox Church, an act that was illegal at the time. She married Jan Lech and emigrated to Sweden in 1993. Mila’s early work in Sweden was all about the natural beauty she saw around her – florals and landscapes, somewhere between realistic and abstract and influenced by her work in textiles.
In 1997 Mila’s mother suffered a fatal stroke while visiting Ludmila in Sweden. Mila’s life changed overnight and in her heart and painting, she began a spiritual journey. Her work retreated from its focus on nature as she turned toward her Russian Orthodox faith for inspiration and guidance. Mila’s deep relationship with one of the cornerstones of the faith, the religious icon, formed the basis of a decade-long artistic conversation about deep existential and challenging concepts. She said “the icons were like a window to God.” Ludmila uses the traditional icon as inspiration for creating contemporary artworks of the spirit, works designed to illuminate, to invite contemplation, and to take the viewer on an inner journey of the soul.