A pseudo-Baroque thriller
At first glance, these are drawings from a museum portfolio of some old master. However, it is Julia Medyńska drawing, with her typical talent and irreverence, on her great predecessors of the Baroque, Rococo and Romantic eras. She takes individual elements and characters from their paintings and sets them in her own narratives, giving them a new context. On the surface, these are just historicising pictures, like copies from albums, but one need only take a closer look to see how the author juggles roles and meanings – she changes her characters from men to women, gives them children. The woman–child relationship holds an important place in Medynska’s art.
The artist evokes clichés from fairy tales and fables, an old nanny or a scary Baba Yaga, she works out mother-child relations. Underneath the historicising costume there are chilling scenes, a veritable pseudo-Baroque thriller. Instead of cuddling, there are spankings and even the sewing together of a child's dismembered body, like a rag doll or a sheep from the fairy tale of Dratewka the Shoemaker. While depicting physical violence, Medyńska conveys stories about psychological tensions within the family, about psychological violence as well.
Experiments with style and technique bring about very diverse effects – the works are sometimes archaic, at other times contemporary in expression. Medyńska uses conté crayons, oil paints, and pencils.
The seeming sketch-like nature of these works does not mean that they are underdeveloped – for Julia Medyńska, drawings on paper are closed works. They are by no means auxiliary sketches or bases for oil paintings, because the artist does not use such techniques. Planning tires her out, so she does not make sketches, but begins with a motif from a vast archive of photographs found on the Internet and paintings by old masters.
She adds another layer of meaning to these works with the titles, to which she attaches great importance. What matters is the mystery.