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Surrealistic reinterpretations of the classical portrait style by Ewa Juszkiewicz

Polish artist Ewa Juszkiewicz updates the classical portrait style into her peculiar surrealistic reinterpretation that fuses female figures with still-life, clothes, and hairstyles. Her creations symbolize a rupture of dress codes.

Ewa Juszkiewicz adopts the visual conventions of portraiture but drags them into the present, altering and denaturing the codes and prompting us to consider the cultural afterlife of such images. Be it through a portrait re-interpreted or a lost artwork re-crafted, from the eighteenth century portrait painter Joshua Reynolds (1723-92) to the modernist Paul Klee (1879-1940), her uncanny paintings upset the hierarchies of cultural memory, inserting the hybrid and the strange into the historical order. Since 2012, Juszkiewicz has created a series of paintings based around portraits of women: mothers, wives and daughters. These images are, in a sense, portraits of significant others, however it is the maligned status of these women relative to their associated male counterpoints (who are not represented) that becomes significant. Portraiture of course has seldom been solely about its subject but interlaced with social conventions, status and covert (or not so covert) symbolic messages. This begs the question: how does an artist begin to negotiate the history of the objectification of women in portraiture? If history has rendered these individuals unremarkable, Juszkiewicz’s act of re-painting them both extends this act of negation whilst also transforming these characters into extraordinary, surreal apparitions of their former selves.

Ewa Juszkiewicz

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