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EssayAleksandra Waliszewska

By Wojciech Tuleya

Eyes Wide Open. A Self-portrait in an Interior

When I first saw Aleksandra Waliszewska’s self-portraits eight years ago, her early student work, painted on tattered pieces of cardboard, it felt like blowing dust off a buried treasure. Like an archeologist at Fayum, I was sweeping the sand aside to dig up the portraits.

The secret mystery play unfolding in those modest pictures spoke with enormous power. Every sketch was a testimony to a steady hand and a hypersensitive imagination. As I browsed one cardboard sheet after another, more and more of Aleksandra’s self-images opened up before me.

Aleksandra WaliszewskaAleksandra Waliszewska

In Waliszewska’s later work, the scene had expanded. Her figure can still be glimpsed. But numerous new figures had appeared, as if celebrants to some ancient rites. Does the painter reenact her dreams? We do identify pieces of reality in these pictures: the yard outside the house, the interior of her study,  sometimes a familiar face. But there are many clues suggesting that under this – somewhat claustrophobic – crust of every day life, a dark abyss of “metaphysics” opens.

Aleksandra WaliszewskaAleksandra Waliszewska

There is surprisingly much cruelty, pain and indifference here. And Jola being such a nice person! Yet the paintings tempt us with a the taste of forbidden fruit, with a promise of an initiation.

Sometimes, you only need to step over a person’s threshold to be plunged in their dark secrets. Other times, a glance at a painting is enough.