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Since 1996, Polish artist Grazyna Adamska-Jarecka, has been practicing her art in Canada. Her extremely personal and intimate self portraits found in her recent exhibition Image of Detachment at Gallery M Contemporary are chilling. She works towards exposing the fragility of the human body; one that is predisposed of depression, trauma, and psychic turmoil. With a background as a biologist conducting research on animals, Adamska-Jarecka has shifted her experiments out of the lab and into her paintings, depicting images of human behavior and psyche.


JZ: What can you tell me about your ideas behind Image of Detachment?


GAJ: The most immediate idea behind “Image of Detachment" is to explore the impact of expressing personal aspects of depression through the language of painting and drawing and using a human form as a symbol. Another idea is to explore the theme of melancholy in art considering the aesthetics of disengagement, self-absorption and detachment. The exhibition also alludes to the instance of depression as a common phenomenon in female subjectivity, and subsequently suggests ways to resist depressive moods: among them self-awareness and-self-examination.


JZ: I noticed that all the paintings in your show are of the human figure. Have you always been a figure painter? And are they self-portraits?


GAJ: I cannot define myself only as a portrait or figure painter because abstract paintings are significant part of my work. Through my entire undergraduate studies I painted abstract paintings. The switch to figure occurred in the graduate school.


Yes, the figures in the show are my nude self-portraits. To realize the model of self-examination through painting the works use the self-portrait in various improvised stages of psychic turmoil. Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud, to be closer to the immediate subjective truth, they too used themselves as the subject matter.


JZ: Do you think your career in the past as a scientist has influenced your artwork today? If so,in what ways?


GAJ: Yes, I think so. My work intends to link, in synergistic way, art’s depiction of images of depressive moods with scientific approach to understand depression. My work is informed by new aspects of research in cognitive and behavioral sciences, as well. At making art I follow some of the same careful steps of Scientific Method as hypothesis, experiments and studying results. Also in the past art and science were inseparable in my life. It was when I worked in a microbiological lab at the University of Guelph in the day and painted fantasy about manipulations with genetic material of bacteria in the night.


JZ: Has melancholy, depression, and conflict always been driving themes in your work?


GAJ: No. Not at all until the moment I have been affected by it. My depression was rooted in lonely life, which focused upon refining education and self-expression. Having suffered depression with a range of somatic disturbances, I have turned to my art as therapy, which is a way to focus creativity as a natural coping strategy.


JZ: Why have you chosen to paint on transparent plastic film?


GAJ: In 2005 playing tennis on an elementary level I fell and broke my right palm and then I could work only on unstretched lightweight supports (fabric or plastic films). I chose transparent polycarbonate films. Later on the material proved to be appropriate for my studies on depression as lack of the background signifies the loss of relationship to the other and the insufficiency of self. The material becomes a metaphor for the desired state of clarity, a window that reveals the real and true self.


JZ: What can we expect from you next?


GAJ: I plan to discontinue making art about depression because dwelling too long in the theme is a bit dangerous for my psyche and somewhat dishonest. I am fine now.I plan to further explore through subsequent paintings the theme of body and communication but in a new aspect. I will examine the position of body virtual and corporeal to mediate between binary constructs: body/cyber-body; reality/virtual reality. Using only medium of painting/drawing will be a big challenge for me.






By: JZ

Grazyna Adamska-Jarecka, Forfold Rocking, 2011, mixed media on transparent plastic film, 90"x 50"

Grazyna Adamska-Jarecka, Equilibrium, 2008, mixed media on plastic, 24"x 24"

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