Ewa Juszkiewicz

30 Nov 2013 - 25 Jan 2014

© Ewa Juszkiewicz
30 November 2013 - 25 January 2014

Ewa Juszkiewicz (born 1984), the laureate of this year’s edition of the “Bielska Jesień” painting biennial in Bielsko-Biała, takes up drawing, collage, sculpture and animation: nevertheless, it is painting that is her major element. The artist was also, among other things, the laureate of the 40th Painting Biennial in Bielsko-Biała as well as “Przeciąg: the 3rd Festival of the Juvenile Art” in Szczecin. She also creates curator projects – in 2015, together with Paulina Ołowska, she prepared the exhibitions “Brudna woda” (“Dirty Water”) and “Piękna pogoda” (“Beautiful Weather”) which were shown in PGSW in Sopot and in Fundacja Galerii Foksal in Warsaw.

In her artistic output, she takes up a discussion with the tradition of the portrait, reinterpreting the images of women which are well-known in the history of fine arts. Basing on the classic works of painting, she carries out their transformations, deprives them of their self-evident nature and commonly accepted order and in doing so creates new, incredible galleries of images. By putting some personally selected paintings through transformation, fragmentation or by changing their context, on their basis, she builds a new narrative. She creates a specific herstory – she transforms the portraits of the women who are wives, mothers or daughters of the influential men. By depriving them of their faces, she poses a question – what remains in history besides the image? Was there anybody who devoted a while to their personalities, attainments or aspirations? As regards nearly every of the once portrayed man, we can find some information in books or archives: the only thing which has remained after women are their faces.

Ewa Juszkiewicz is interested in the evolution of the portrait throughout history, and the field of her research are the phenomena of transgressing the aesthetic norms and the canons of depicting women, deriving from the analysis of the ways of the presentation in different periods of the development of culture. The artist is preoccupied with the cultural and social schemes referring to the images of women which are set in the history of art; in her pictures and drawings, she observes and undermines the clichés concerning portraying. Juszkiewicz raises the question of ambiguity of the image, evoking in viewers the feeling of anxiety and discomfort. Her works reach as far as our imagination, awaking equivocal feelings by balancing on the verge of beauty and ugliness.

A crucial problem that also appears in Juszkiewicz’s works is that of the relationship between the original of the work of art and its interpretation. In the epoch of quoting and borrowing, the artists moves even further, somehow by casting herself in the role of old masters, the authors of the pictures which were her inspiration. The appellation of a copyist, however, is not offensive in Ewa Juszkiewicz’s case as creating copies is a considerable element of her work. She attaches to it the same amount of weight as she does when it comes to the moment of creation – adding details, changing motifs and most of all transforming the upper part of the portrait, where the figments of the artist’s imagination appear in the place of the depicted character’s head.

Agnieszka Rayzacher

Tags: Ewa Juszkiewicz, Paulina Olowska