Self-Portrait

Krystyna Jachniewicz

  • type of object: painting
  • date: 1981
  • material/technique: oil on canvas
  • dimensions: 70 x 100 cm
  • inventory No.: M-653
  • image licensed under: CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

Painted a few months before the declaration of martial law in Poland,
Krystyna Jachniewicz’s painting is so far the only self-portrait in her oeuvre.
Using the example of animals — the main characters of her art — the artist
looks for analogies with humans. She wrote about the work: In the 1981 self-portrait, though, my face became the only actor. I found something almost frightening in my face, which for other people is supposedly the epitome of peace, and this is what I wanted to bring to light. The times were turbulent, we lived in a kind of trance then, certain we were part of something wonderful, momentous. The difficulties of everyday life faded into the background. We felt that Poland was great and important, we were proud of Solidarity and everything that was happening. But apart from euphoria, I felt anxiety and a kind of powerlessness. I pushed them away, ignored them, but they went deep down. I painted the self-portrait in a few intense sessions, very quickly for me, as if in a trance, with a mirror in one hand and a brush in the other. I ‘spat it out’ in some strange, incomprehensible urge. I think everything that was happening back then had to affect the work of every artist. Some became decisively involved in their art, others, like me, perhaps uncertain of their role,
left it to the realm of the subconscious?

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