exhibition

Hanna Krzysztofiak
Napoleonka or Death

Polana Institute

October 1–17, 2020

Twisted gunges, "a fucked-up clock", bed heads, devils, horses, ghosts, cafe curtains, a child's tombstone. The motives from childhood and the adult world on the artist's canvases are like intrusive thoughts in a stuffy room. Nobody is happy when they can't sleep at 3 am, and time in lockdown isolation is similar to this 3 a.m. feeling. However, personal anxiety and fear are not the most important themes of Krzysztofiak's paintings presented at the exhibition.

Catherine Malabou in her essay To Quarantine from Quarantine: Rousseau, Robinson Crusoe, and “I” quotes John James Rousseau's Confessions to focus for a moment on the issue of choice. "What is best in a time of confinement? Be quarantined with other people? Or be quarantined alone?”.

In the painting with a tombstone in the background, we see in the foreground sad skeletons of a girl and a dog. Getting familiar with the thought of one's own end in a pandemic takes on a double meaning. If we live alone, we will no longer get a chance to "improve" in the eyes of society. A lonely woman in Poland in 2020 is a woman lacking in something and dies in infamy.

These painting are not about female madness, although some part of this narration evokes the atmosphere of In the Heart of the Country by J.M. Coetzee. This is an attempt to create a universal danse macabre out of her own fears. Instead of a traditional procession of representatives of various walks of life, the artist is accompanied by kitschy objects and decorations "borrowed" from her own collection or the Internet or from the domesticated spaces of other people. The ugly placed in the role of the beautiful and desirable is a perfect tool for the symbolic revenge for non-verbalized wrongs. A horse with a giant triumphant smile standing on a corpse, or rather, a pile of dismembered corpses, probably Napoleon's.