The painting output of Ewa Juszkiewicz is dominated by portraits. The artist’s compositions of central figures, whose faces are of natural size, permit a direct “encounter” between the public and the painting, which was her intent. Her output confirms the young generation’s tendency to refer to the history of art and paintings of the old masters, as well as the conviction that the avant-garde traditions have been exhausted. In paintings by Juszkiewicz, the polite and the nice is presented next to the disgusting and the terrifying. The techniques and paints used by the artist highlight contrasts. The three portraits of the years 2008-2009, all from the Museum's collection – "Basia" (2008), Untitled (2009) and "Russian Portrait" (2009) – make up the cycle which shatters ideal images and creates ambiguities. Ewa Juszkiewicz creates individual inner portraits, ironically breaking the classical portrait convention. There is dualism between the alarming and uncomfortable tension and the intended humour in her works. The figures painted pretend and participate in the masquerade and grotesque, referring to both classical painting and pop-culture presentations. Dresses, bows and hand positions of the figures refer to childhood, suggesting obsequiousness and innocence. The faces of Spanish infants and contemporary Lolitas undergo drastic deformations, thus emphasizing the liquidity of personality. The works depart from and exceed the canons of imaging and the socially acceptable aesthetic standards. "Basia" (2008) is the author’s interpretation of a photograph of a Japanese artist and a guru of the 21st-century “Gothic Lolita” style, Masayuki Yoshinagi, while the teddy bear held by the model and the forks representing surreal accessories further enhance the ambiguity of the performance. "Russian Portrait" (2009), on the other hand, refers to Russian folklore (through the colours), with the lips of the model being an intimate imprint of the artist’s lips covered by paint. These works, together with Untitled (2009), manifest opposition against perfection and artificial beauty. Works by Ewa Juszkiewicz serve as an interesting extension of the critical strategies of feminist art, which do not allude to the avant-garde traditions, but are rooted in the play of popular associations and references as well as in traditional painting skills.
Medium: acrylic on canvas
Format: 135×170 cm
Material: acrylic paint, canvas
Ownership form: collection
Source: Fundacja Lokal Sztuki
Index: MSN: 4300-11/2015
Financing source: Cofinanced by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage under the 'National collections of contemporary art 2015' priority