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Home arrow Criticism arrow Agnieszka Taborska
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Studies of Reality, 2002

Asked what influence living in various countries had on his art, Man Ray answered that it had none: in Paris he did the same as in New York, and in New York the same as in California. He thus provided a definition of the cosmopolitan artist, who travels the world but whose studio remains the most important place.

It seems that in times when traveling has became easier, cheaper and faster, this way of life would become common among artists. Just the opposite has happened: stabilization is increasing in value and the 19th century Bohemian lifestyle seems strangely exotic. Choosing an independent path requires more courage today than it did half a century ago. Students of the Academy of Fine Arts smile piteously at the mention of Flower Children.

Ewa Kuryluk is one the few fully modern people I know. She knows how to benefit from the shrunken world, lives counter to the processes that render artists narrow-minded, and never stops surprising with new installations, new books in new languages, and new addresses of residence. I guess that - like for Man Ray - the studio is for her the most important place (incidentally, it is on the same street that his studio used to be). It is there that she transforms the external realities of streets, hotels, and the studios of other artists, be they in Vienna, London, New York, Paris, Japan, or Warsaw.

Among all places, Warsaw, the city of her childhood, seems to be the most mythical and painful for her. Without it there would be no Ewa the traveler, skeptical observer lost in ever new landscapes - be they of cherry trees in blossom, long-since familiar Europe, or America, still capable of surprises. There would be no eternal wanderer, ceaselessly running away from realities already tamed. Her silhouettes of ”people of air” - though caught in the midst of the most intimate rituals - also seem ready at any minute to fly into the unknown. The choice of silk and cotton as the canvasses for her portraits was dictated not only by a predilection for images that combine the holiness of the cloth of Veronica with the physicality of blood on sheets. These delicate personages - more like shadows than people in spite of their realism - captivate primarily through elusiveness. After all, they could disappear in the pocket of a winter coat.

The art of Ewa Kuryluk speaks of the ephemerality of landscapes, human relationships, situations that seem constant, eroticism, childhood, and history. It springs from a curiosity about the world and openness to its many faces. Ewa has never ceased being a very bright student with a great sense of humor who dutifully studies reality. If one wants to conduct such studies seriously one must concentrate, minimize everyday needs and track life as intensely as it treats us. She does all these things very well.

What a pity that inquisitive, fearless Ewas are not more numerous in the world. Life would then be much more interesting.

Agnieszka Taborska is a writer, art historian, and historian of French literature. Her main fields of interest are art of the late 19th - early 20th centuries and Surrealism. Since 1990 she has been a professor of Art History at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island. She is the author of several books of fiction, essays on Surrealism, and translations of the French Surrealists.

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