XII. 2017, text of catalogue to exhibition “Fulfilled”, Gallery Stalowa, Warsaw, Poland
“Fulfilled” Julita Malinowska
My exhibitions in Stalowa Gallery have become quite cy-clical. They take place every two years, measuring my time inthe artistic sense and in my private life. “Fulfilled” is my third individual exhibition in “Stalowa”.
The first one, back in 2013, “Girls on the Beach” was an over-view of nearly ten years of my artistic work.In order to paintthe second one,I went to Thailand and Cuba. During theopening, in 2015, I was standing before the audience ten days after my wedding. I was full of hope, faith in the future and immensely happy. The title of the exhibition was no coinci-dence. “The FirstLove” referred not only to the paintings, butalso to my emotional status –I felt as ifI was loving so hardfor the first time in my life! The figures on the paintings were stepping into different sort of interactions. Previously, despite close proximity on the canvas, there were no interactions be-tween them. Whereas, in 2015, they stopped being separate,focused on themselves and invisible to each other.Instead, they started to look at each other and step into emotional relations.More emotional saturation came, when I started to express the emotions of the figures not just through their gestures and body language, but when I included face expressions as well. The colours have become more vivid and contrasting, and the people on the paintings started to leave the beach and moveto the city.
What has changed in the past two years? Now I am a painter–wife–mother. I may be tired more than ever, but at thesame time I am so happy! What does fulfillment mean for me? Surely, it is not constant, it is a movement, a change. Balance seeking, just what I do on my paintings. A curiosity of everycoming day, which will be clearly so different from the previ-ous one, mainly thanks to Pola. For me, it is the rush on theway to the peaceful moments. Daily running from work to home and from home to work, just so the time can slow down in the two separate but complementing spaces, which for me have become entireness. It happens whe I spend time with my daughter: each moment is intensive. Exactly the same thing happens, although in a different way, when I paint. Here, I also experience suspension in time, but it is more like acontemplation instead of constant focus on the changing mo-ment, which is happening when you spend time with a child.
When instead of intensive experiencing, it is subject to reflexion, fulfillment may sometimes taste bitter: is this all? Was it supposed to be like that?Nevertheless, the prevailing feelingis that now I am experiencing the most interesting and inten-sive time of my life. Earlier, althoughI painted and exhibited a lot, my energy was partially dispersed, tangled in “searching for love”.It is a great time waster. Now it’s much better. I am strongly focused on two areas: painting and home. I don’t get distracted, so paradoxically (with all the duties) I paint a lot, like never before. The more I devote myself to being a mother,the more intense my passion for painting becomes. Both areas need each other and in a sense they feed on each other.
Similarly to the past, my private life is transferred to the paintings, in order to show the relations and emotions. Depict them better thanI ever could before. Formally, my biggest joy becomes “playing with colours”– checking new hues, saturations and contrasts. For the purpose of this exhibition, the figures on my painting have completely moved to the city. Fulfillment. Do I attempt to enter their souls in order to find it? On the contrary: in my image, after my likeness I give them my own story that completes them. I read them in my own way. It’s become a rule that men and boys are there just to complete women.
So what kind of “Fulfilled” are featured in my works? Re-gardless of their age, they take pleasure in relations – intimacy ,touch, dance, friendship, conversation, but also their own moments. Sometimes they frown. They are mothers, grandmothers, matrons, friends and confidants. They are students andexcited adolescents. Are they happy? Do they feel fulfilled? “Is this all” for them? With whom do you identify?Where is your fulfillment? In order to find answer to those and many other questions thatwill surely come up, please come and see my paintings.
“The world according to Julita” Kama Zboralska
For as long as I can remember, Julita Malinowska has always been focused on people. First, the excuse for showing interpersonal relations was a beach, holidays and relaxing time. Now, she switched to the city landscape. Her paintings are part ofthe recently growing in popularity return to figurative, classical style art. In her generally optimistic works, she shows usmultithread stories combined into one, consistent composition that can be interpreted on various levels. I.e. with regard to individual figures and their emotions arising from the contact with others, or with regard to the story that is a synthesisof all events presented. Sometimes it is non-obvious, ambiguous, although mostly these are just ordinary scenes. Dancing couples, a walk together or courtyard plays, but they evoke different associations in people. The colours, and she is using at ruly wide pallet, complete the situation presented. Similarly to David Hockney, whose work fascinates her, in her artistic work, she shows synthetic background, devoid of any unnecessary elements, while women or men are some sort of shapes, types of figures. Although in her more recent works, she features characters that are not anonymous any more, their face expressions have become more individualistic, still, they arenot exactly portraits. They express emotions – sadness, desire, affection and sometimes anger and renouncement. Artist get inspired by her exotic journeys. She uses photographs of people and places that she found interesting in order to translate itinto her own artistic language. She avoids showing poverty–Indians, Cubans or Thais are trying, each in their own way and at any cost, to distance themselves to that. So why should she present them in such humiliating reality? Photographs or movies are a sort of notebook for her, she draws from it to create her painting collages, she brings together people who had never and otherwise would never meet. She builds her own large scale narrations, her own, unique world. The world according to Julita…
Kama Zboralska: Your diploma advisor was Professor Andrzej Bednarczyk and his intellectual work combines art and science. Students often find it difficult to distance from their masters. Have you found and created your own painting style so different from your Professor’s right away?
Julita Malinowska: I was lucky because during the biggest transformations of my paintings, Professor Bednarczyk wa sthe Dean of the Painting Department, hence he had a very limited amount of time he could devote to his students. Professor was meeting with his students on request only basis, he wasn’t popping in the studio as other professors. So in that way I was free. I had time to think and paint. I remember that I was showing Professor my ready paintings, when I was sure of them. Painting “toward Professor”, toward his serious approach to art and painting was very important for me. In the studio, it was almost a requirement to create “from theguts”, to base on something that was important for us. There was no space for formal imitation. You could only imitate an approach. Professor kept saying that painting should not include unnecessary elements and this statement influenced my work to a great extent.
KZ: Is your PhD dissertation “Art, artist, work of art, beauty”,on which you worked under Professor Andrzej Bednarczyk’s supervision, only a matter of satisfied ambition?
JM: I wanted to further consolidate my self-reflexion on thepaintings. You make different paintings when you do it justfor yourself, to later put it in your wardrobe, and it’s different, when you do it for the audience to see (such is the casenow, with “Stalowa Gallery”), and still it’s different, when the recipients are the council of professors. It’s a different kind of obligation. My PhD series paintings were entitled ”The Last Judgment”, “Precipitation”. When visiting the studios of Krakow’s Academy of Fine Arts, you can sense the spirit of tradition. I felt tha tI need to refer to it somehow. My PhD was once again a confrontation (the first one took place during the studies) with the gravity of the two centuries history of the school. It’s a bit like becoming part of the genealogical tree of theAcademy. Then, I thought that my PhD will be the additional “life insurance”. I still don’t feel confident enough to take responsibility for a part of the artistic education of the students. Maybe one day, when I will get more experience…There’s this tempting component of teaching – you keep spending time with young people who are full of hope and ideas. Just as every other sphere of life, it can become source of inspiration and development.
KZ: Which artist has been your model and inspiration? Has this been changing over the years? JM: I am still fascinated by great masters, although, for thetime being, my constant contact with them has become less important. In the past I kept visiting museums in Vienna, Berlin, London, Italy. I spent days there. I was learning from the old masters. I kept asking many questions when looking at the contemporary artists. I was fascinated by David Hockney and my absolute role model was Professor Janina Kraupe-Świderska. I admired Hockney for his curiosity, courage, versatilit yand hard work. His exhibition in the Royal Academy in London in 2012 was an electrifying. I loved to listen to Madam Professor and I always admired her for the fact that she kept creating through out her whole life. I hope to be ableto paint until the end…I was recently tested, which clearly showed me my determination for work. A year and half ago I gave birth to my baby daughter. Before, everything was subjected to painting. My hobbies, travels, the way I spent my free time. Now Pola is the most important. The time for work is the time “I steel from home”. I have to fight for it, often with myself. The beginnings were very difficult, I was torn a part, reproached. But it’s getting better.When I am in the studio, it’s just as it was before, i.e.I am fully focused on now and here. I love this process, when space, figures, textures and colours start to come out of this white rectangle. There’s nothing more wonderful than oil painting. I seat in my studio surrounded by my works and I feel good! Of course, when I come back home I am a mom, the best that I can be, 100%. Just as in the studio I focus on the one thing – painting.
KZ: The canons of beauty, particularly today, are difficult to define.What does this term mean to you?
JM: Beauty means peace and harmony. Some people are expressing themselves through beauty and order, while othersare ragingly splashing paint on the canvas. Both attitudes and many, many others are acceptable. Artists should be creating things they find important.
KZ: Do you think that some artists are showing this less attractive side of life on purpose, only to bring attention? Or maybe this is the way they see the world?
JM: Definitely. Which does not mean that the others are blindor “have no life experience”. This is a matter of choice. I find it important to offer hope, smile, even if yesterday I was crying. It is up to us, what we give to other people, whether it’s rage ora helpful hand. My paintings are whatI give to other people. This is something that will stay with them every single day. Ihope that they will not be a mere decoration on the wall, but also an incentive for reflexion, contemplation, thinking and maybe a peaceful moment.
KZ: What do you value the most in painting?
JM: Technique combined with an idea. Attitudes. Consistence.
KZ: Which painting do you find your break through? Please don’t tell me that it’s the unpainted one…
JM: My paintings of 2004 and 2005. The first large scalepaintings from the time back when I was still a student. Format, subject and change of colours into clearer, brighter, lucid, it was a revolution for me. Back in 2005, another breakthrough came with my large scale figures combined with a very synthetic background. Then, I feel, my work was peacefully evolving, without any dramatic turns. I work on series .Most probably it is because of oil paintings, so I always work on several paintings at the same time. But also because I like this moment when I fill my studio with a sort of mood, a sort of idea. After monochromatic serie I feel thatI miss colour, so next series will probably feature more of it. Less figures, more figures. Grouped basing on similarities and contrasts. Realistic bodies and abstract fragments of body. Single figures and figures in mass. Immersed in a vast space and standing just at the very verge of the canvas. Fighting, holding, laughing, old, young, children, beautiful and ordinary. The whole human kaleidoscope.
KZ: You often show them on holidays, on the beach – the place on which you focus so much in your work. What is so fascinatingin the beach in addition to undressed people, playing children and holiday mood?
JM: The horizon – a reference to infinity. Beach is symbolic. It is the border between two worlds – the known and the unknown. On the beach we behave differently, usually there’s space for our thoughts away from the everyday tread mill. Moved to one’s home, in the form of a painting, in my opinionit offers a different point of reference, on everyday basis. Paradoxically, it forces you to reflect on the sense of existence.
KZ: You make us accustomed to passing, it was Katarzyna Kozyra and Natalia LL who showed the world the degradation of the human body. This process is particularly visibleon the beach.
JM: Yes, a beach is one of the few places, where we accept naked body, regardless of age and canons. Old, deformed body of a woman is in its own way beautiful. Not as a sexual object, which is mostly associated with beauty today. Mature body is a sign of experience, wisdom and inner capital.
KZ: Your paintings are about people, their relations, although sometimes they seem lonely, still they look happy. Are you happy with your life? Your works are full of positive energy.
JM: I am definitely happy with my life. Although it wasn’t always the case and naturally I sometimes am, it is not a permanent state. I always wanted to show the bright side of life on my paintings, sometimes despite my own pain, maybe inspite of it. I spend several dozen of hours daily working, so the vision of the world on whichI work is very important,also with regard to howI feel. I always wanted my paintings to have a positive energy. It’s a conscious decision. In my new paintings I enjoy colours and textures even more. I try to step away from the beach and from the specific form of imagining. I was consequent but this consistency started to tire me, it became a trap, a prison. Therefore, this exhibition will feature only urban landscapes. Purposefully, there will be no beach theme (although a couple of works feature plane-treated background).
KZ: You are inspired by your exotic journeys – Cuba, Thailand. On your paintings, people differ only by the colour of their skin. Haven’t you ever thought about showing them ina less cheerful entourage? Synthetic background, as you do it,to at least signal the poverty in which they live. Is poverty shameful?
JM: Poverty is evil, it is inequality, injustice. Everybody deserves decent living. The journey to the third world countryis an important experience.I recommend it to everyone. It teaches you humbleness. It helps to tangibly feel that I am actually very lucky to be born in Poland at the time of let’ say relative (but still) peace .I don’t paint poverty, because I would feel thatI am insulting the dignity of the people that I paint. Stigmatize them. Categorise. I uncover something thatthey themselves try to hide. I capture something from which they want to break free. I am not looking for such obviousness. I am not a reporter nor seeker of touching stories appealing to people’s hearts and consciences. Thailand for instance. Though people live in poverty (which today, with the help of internet, is well-known), they are smiling, seem to be happy. And this is something unobvious. While in Poland the number of people affected by depression is growing…We know that also because poverty forces people to focus on surviving, they have the goal. This dichotomy between the living conditions and the emotions of the people impresses us. Although Cubans are living in poverty, we wouldn’t guess it judging by their clothes and appearance. They care deeply about their appear-ance. They take care of every detail, each makeover is complete – from hair clip colour to the colour of flip-flops. Their clothes are always clean, hair carefully done. My paintings are in away a tribute to those makeovers… I haven’t seen homeless people in Cuba, as I see for instance in Warsaw. Similarly to Cubans, Indians also “dress up” in their everyday lives. Sometimes I felt that the poorer the person, the more colourful and rich the clothes. At the same time, there are many neglected, shabby and left alone children. I remember that after coming back from India, instead of painting poverty, I wanted to literally gold plate some of the poor children portraits. Cover them in gold in order to symbolically transfer them to a different space. Unfortunately, I was not able to apply gold correctly.
KZ: You are using your camera. Later you collage the recordedscenes. What sort of key do you use to select specific figures? Is this ruled by coincidence, just as in real life?
JM: I must be intrigued by something. Interested in something. Reasons may vary, sometimes it is a gesture, situation or emotional tension. In a sense, it is a coincident that I went there and in that exact moment took out the camera and recorded the very person making this face expression. But it ismostly a choice: thinking about paintings, out of many places I chose this very direction for my journey. This person seemed interesting enough for me to reach for my camera. Later, in my studio, again I have a limitless pallet, but the specific emotional tate or situation make me want to focus for severa hours on the specific people. I find the energy and the message that they send important. Definitely, I feel it strongly when I look at my most recent paintings.
KZ: One of the galleries is preparing “Artists-Mothers” exhibition.What differs them from women without children? I’msure you know it…
JM: Perfect organisation. Higher determination. Higher content saturation. Birth and responsibility for a small human being is a borderline experience and in that sense it is enriching. It’s as if my pallet suddenly expanded. I became a different person. I see interpersonal relations differently. I perceive women-mothers differently. I also perceive young women differently. I know what kind of person I was, what are the things thatI didn’t know and what I know right now and what I would like my daughter Pola to realise. Work of artists immersed in motherhood is a different subject. I need to admit that I was taking this direction into account. Pola has so suddenly become so important…Nevertheless, just as always before, I never put myself in the centre of my paintings. I tell a story through my figures, as if I was putting actors onthe stage.I didn’t want to share Pola in such way. I couldn’t imagine giving the image of my little daughter to other people who hang it on the wall. At the same time, I am sure that now my paintings featuring mothers have a deeper message.