Pl. Powstańców Warszawy 9
November 10–December 9, 2023
Julia Platt's latest series of paintings features the rooms of three familiar living spaces: her own, her sister's, and the family home. The only extensions of these safe spaces are the balcony and the canopy of neighboring trees. The world is confined to the meters or centimeters visible to the artist safely nestled in the back of the room. Order is delineated by the horizontal and vertical divisions of windows, windowsills, and balcony railings.
Platt's paintings bear a deceptive resemblance to photographs but would be boring as photographs. It is the interplay of scale and painterly substance that renders the inner world of these artworks captivating. The artist's discipline stands in contrast to the unbridled freedom of objects within the space. They need not conform to order. The slight chaos they introduce into the paintings mirrors the bustling streets outside the window. A bench becomes a two-lane road, and a bottle and glass transform into cars. Other elements are genuine residents of the room – a soiled basket of clothespins, a glass jar, and a pot of food on the balcony. Painterly realism makes all objects appear animated.
The paintings contain no distinction between foreground and background; each element is of equal importance. It leaves the impression that any alteration or removal of these objects might precipitate a catastrophe or, at best, an "ailment" of the room. This tension evokes trauma – a sense of loss stemming from successive diagnoses and the passing of loved ones, changes beyond our control. These rooms exude this atmosphere, preserving moments both "before" and "after" death.
Occasionally, a human figure graces the artist's canvases – these are either Julia herself or her twin sister. The composition in the painting Próba echoes the works of Hopper. The twins inhabit disparate worlds even though they are in the same apartment. It is notable that the sister, crouching on the balcony, gazes toward the secure confines of the apartment rather than the external world. The other figure, the artist herself, seemingly dares to confront the outside world. She stands upright, contemplative, her gaze fixed in the distance. Nevertheless, the thick glass, the windowsill, the flowers, and their reflections construct an insurmountable barrier.
Nature's elements are the most prominent bearers of the outside world in Julia Platt's paintings. They are reflected in the windows, populate the windowsills, and rule over the table. They function as the unconscious lungs of the paintings. In Rejs, painted in early spring, the absence of greenery outside is concealed by vases and flower pots. This reliance on nature's greenery is as distinctive in the artist's work as her inclusion of objects from her childhood. Photographs, a souvenir from the seaside, and a doll that once belonged to the artist's mother during her own childhood – establish a lasting connection between the artist's modern apartment, her sister's residence, and the family home.