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Ewa Juszkiewicz’s dialectic between creation and destruction has been present in her creative activity since 2012, when she started her cycle based on historical artworks dating from the Renaissance to the 19th century. The artist characteristically draws her inspiration from portraiture, especially the female portrait. She processes, i.e. destroys and recreates, familiar female portraits by depriving them of their obviousness and familiar order, and thus creates her own galleries of new images. Juszkiewicz builds a new narrative by transforming, fragmenting or changing the context of her selection of works. She creates a unique herstory by transforming the portraits of the wives, mothers and daughters of influential men. By depriving them of their faces she addresses the questions: What remained of them in history except for their images? Most often, the only thing which remains of the women is their faces.
 
In this series, Ewa Juszkiewicz's research covers the areas of crossing aesthetic standards and canons of female portraiture. She analysis the different ways of depicting women in different periods of cultural development. There is also the problem of the relationship between the original work and its reinterpretation, as well as the issue of destruction of the old in favour of the new. The “new” here refers not to the aesthetic categories — as the artist tries to follow the aesthetics of the old masters— but to a change in the perception of the function of the portrait and the position of the sitter.
 
The descent beckons cycle of paintings is based on works of art that were destroyed during the war, in the fire or robbed and considered missing. As with previous paintings, Ewa Juszkiewicz based her works on reproductions, except that this time she used poor quality, black and white photos, which she had traced in archival materials, often several decades old. This strategy gives the artist freedom in transformation and selection of means of artistic expression, making these modernized versions of the missing works free interpretations, which as in the case of a series of portraits, form the basis for her new explorations.
 
The theme of destruction and creation returns in this cycle with a vengeance. Do the paintings by Juszkiewicz constitute an attempt to recreate the past? A nostalgia for something irrevocably gone? Ewa Juszkiewicz says that her choice of originals was not accidental. While looking at the numerous photographs during the preparation stage, she chose those (showing paintings, sculptures, and even a mask) which illustrated her own memories of events, places or people that she had lost somewhere along the way or that she misses. Some of her representations illustrate exceptionally intense memories, others are loose associations, recollections of some special aura. Thus, the lost works and the longing for them become intertwined with a kind of “controlled nostalgia” evoked by personal experiences of the artist.
 
Works by Ewa Juszkiewicz addresses the question about the meaning of the reconstruction of damaged or missing works of art. It does not show the irrelevance of such action, nor does it undermine the legitimacy of attachment to the past, longing for the lost. After all, these natural emotions constitute an extremely important element of culture, and the exhibition itself is based on nostalgia as a unique driving force for the artist.


Agnieszka Rayzacher, excerpt from the text: "The descent beckons", 2015