The heroine of one of Paulina Stasik’s new paintings builds a shaky tower of stones—a kind of meditation and at the same time a symbol of the stubbornness of existence and work, as in the myth of Sisyphus. The artist calls her the Female Builder to emphasize that the world in question is subject to the rules of the female gender. This applies to Stasik’s painting in general. It is a deep insight into the cultural essence of corporeality, how the experience of gender translates into the sphere of spirituality and myth. In her works, the painter creates figures plunged into a state of philosophical lethargy, stripped of attributes of daily life or clothing. They struggle with rhetorical figures imposed by culture and language, as in the painting Digestion, in which the heroine literally carries “stones in her belly.” Over her shoulder, the city lights glimmer in the background—one of the few references to life here and now, to everyday routine and bustle. The metabolism which Stasik’s paintings relate is less a temporal function of the body, and more an emancipatory and spiritual process. “The image of the body is only a fragment of the image of the world,” the artist explains, and with successive canvases she elaborates her exceptional liberational atlas of the female subconscious.
The monumental Mind Map, the largest of the canvases presented in the exhibition, offers a kind of dreamy retrospective. Stasik evokes motifs that have appeared in her earlier works—the figure of a guardian, an androgynous being from Plato’s myth, a cry, looking at oneself in one’s own reflection. In the upper left corner of the painting, the painter portrays herself walking along a dotted line and gazing down at this peculiar map of her imagination. Much as in medieval cartography, it is a record of known territories as well as a tool for discovering new places and the paths connecting them. Painting appears here as the work of depicting an individual, internal mythology. A recurring motif in many of the artist’s paintings is hands and arms, which represent the sphere of action and experience, and at the same time symbolize the process of creation.
States of levitation, weightlessness, release of consciousness from the body, and the possibility of looking at oneself “from the outside” are also the subject of other paintings, such as Selfie. Through her painterly visions, Stasik penetrates successive coatings and layers, of both body and mind, seeking cosmic balance, her own “anatomy of existence.”