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solitary and cautious
at the end
she is no longer afraid

daughter of the potter butades
outlines the shadow of her lover

tracing wind
on water
while war calls him away

Ewa Kuryluk, Miss Anima
Poems: 1975 – 1979

Cracow: Wydawnictwo Literackie, 1984

Maps on walls of interiors in old paintings are mementos from past journeys and signs of secret dreams – maps within. I have always been a traveler and each journey left traces in my art work. The trip to Corinth, the art center of ancient Greece and the legendary cradle of painting, was of a different dimension. In June 1964 I joined a school trip to Greece because of the Corinthian girl who had invented painting by outlining the shadow of her departing lover. I was first appalled by the city of Corinth, a shabby backwater founded in the mid-nineteenth century when Old Corinth was leveled to the ground by an earthquake. But as we walked across the excavations and I watched my shadow move along the white hot stone, I felt near the Corinthian girl. Admiring the faded colors on the metopes and the brilliant meander pattern of red, blue and yellow in the Museum, I had a revelation. In ancient Greece when temples and statues were covered with bright paint, no division between painting and sculpture existed. They really were twins, like the two dancing maenads on a marble relief fragment, now white but once full of color. Looking up at a colossal stone lady beautifully draped, I imagined her cheeks pink, her lips red, and her tunic in color. In Corinth everything seemed possible and all fitted together. A girl my age with no training invented painting out of an impulse. From the shadow’s outline sculpture was born without much ado, soon to be clothed in paint and come alive, like in the legend of Pygmalion. It was during that trip to Greece that I discovered freedom, simplicity and the limitless potential of art. Nothing could turn me away. I was and still am on my way to Corinth.

A Greek legend attributes the invention of painting and relief to the daughter of the Corinthian potter Butades. The girl “was in love with a young man; and she, when he was going abroad, drew in outline on the wall the shadow of his face thrown by a lamp. Her father pressed clay on this and made a relief, which he hardened by exposure to fire” (Pliny the Elder, Natural History, 35.43.151).

Ewa Kuryluk, Veronica & Her Cloth
Oxford: B. Blackwell 1991

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