Today’s world – one that bows down to pop culture, that frantically spins around potty, trivial
things, spreads a cloud of mist over ultimate questions: those about death, sense, the role
absurd plays in our existence – is far from a cosy place to be for an artist. Especially for one
who goes after an ethical act: creation, paying the price of sacrifices. This is experienced as
particularly painful by artists who choose to follow the path of traditional painting. I call it
traditional since fine arts, just as other areas of life, have been sucked into the maelstrom of
progress. An adventurous line gives way to audiovisual presentation, play of light and shade
does to critical concept. Arduous creation – superseded by just a rational choice of how to
get things done and what they are meant to signify. That special something, ephemeral and
precious, still remembered by some students or graduates of the faculty of painting in the
Academies of Fine Arts, becomes quietly scattered, relents under pressure and resignedly
follows the morbid spirit of our times. That’s why it’s become so hard nowadays to stand up
to the myth of Antigone who gave our civilisation the question: how to desire and indeed go
along one’s own way, in the name of values chosen and against all odds?
Judyta Krawczyk-Domańska – a young painter with several important exhibitions in Poland
and Europe in her portfolio, graduate of Warsaw’s Academy of Fine Arts, coming from
Professor Leon Tarasewicz’s famous studio – chose the most difficult of ways. The very
choice she made calls for our gesture of appreciation: not all is lost, then! Painting isn’t
doomed yet! It’s been years now that we watch her facing one white canvas after another,
armed with creative ardour, with paint and – most importantly, perhaps – in mystery.
Actually, it is from mystery that her work emanates. Her paintings, especially from the most
recent “Sixth Sense 2012” series, exude something gloomy and capturing that instantly haunts
the watcher. Once attracted, we shall sense we deal with an artist who moves between “here
and now” of being and “there and then” of certain tragic memory, striving to fuse all this
turmoil into a single clear signal: “here am I”.
All this heartrending mood is skilfully combined with quite a lot of irony which only
emphasizes rather than blurs the overriding melancholy of this painting. Even more
importantly – considering how rare it is – it manages to merge three canons fundamental for
human existence and crucial for e.g. psychoanalysis: Imaginative, Symbolic and Real ones.
Here we are on the road which knows no compromise: we face the image, a “physical carrier”
(term taken from pop culture) of pain, questions, perplexities, dreams, subjectivity, emotional
vibes, all abound with hidden contexts. One of such questions is that about the sense of it all,
about who we are and why it’s so hard for us to deliver from all the things that determined
our existence. As I think about this painting, I can’t help remembering a poem by Jacek
Kaczmarski, after all one of Poland’s greatest art critics, if expressing himself in poetry and
songs: “We all come from Rembrandt’s canvas / it’s just a matter of light // We all come from
Socrates’ irony / unrecognized ignorance // We all come from Descartes’ inquiries / Ink on
paper, instead of a soul; // We all come from phoney posters: / Flat scream / In vast silence”.
Judyta Krawczyk-Domańska’s painting is not a poster. It provides a counter point to the
swindle of civilisation of information, to mass culture. Dr House, a TV series magician
is suspended in the future but only in order to have choice, because right beside we find
a “Buñuel’s box” with a mystery, a record, unsigned. What’s in there? Elsewhere, realistic
figures “dramatis personae” of life (the artist’s life?) emerge from canvas in painful
protest against attempts to let go. Oblivion, however, is like a smudge – grey, here applied
furiously, there with subtlety. Background in these paintings is like memory – it represents
unconsciousness, troubled and drowsy like a Freudian dream, never seeming to find real
peace. The artist paints these scenes with astonishing focus, knowing that things external,
visible, providing tangible contents are neither just screened off by the background nor
emerging therefrom. Instead, they fall in, sucked within by the background and drowning
in it. Clearly, it is “those far away shores” that occur more important: questions with no
answers, chaos disturbing the grind of daily issues, the inanimate, raw, inerasable crack of
unconsciousness. That’s the real nature of this painting – truly superb painting.
Modern world, let us repeat it, is rather unkind to the artist as it does all things to mitigate
all that’s real, torn and trying in the human being. Still, a woman with a wolf’s head refuses
being mitigated. She stands upright, valiant, unshakeable. Just as art does – one that still
manages to find its believers.
Critic, poet, journalist in Polish Radio Channel One