In a Shady Valley, Near a Running Water, an exhibition of new paintings by Ewa Juszkiewicz in Beverly Hills will be on view through December 22, 2023, This is Juszkiewicz’s first solo exhibition in California and her second with Gagosian, following In vain her feet in sparkling laces glow in New York (2020–21).
Juszkiewicz’s oil paintings of women begin with historical portraits, appropriating their style while subverting their conventions through fantastical and discomforting pictorial interventions. Emulating representations of women painted in the Grand Manner style popular in Western art from the eighteenth through the early nineteenth century, she re-creates the poses, fashion, and settings of her sources while transforming their scales and palettes and adding details that point to the artifice of femininity’s stereotypical markers.
In the paintings exhibited in Beverly Hills (all works 2023), Juszkiewicz obscures her subjects’ faces, substituting passages of tightly coiffed hair, swaths of fabric, arrangements of flowers and foliage, and other additions that meticulously maintain the style of her sources while subsuming their recognizable features. These surreal elements estrange the viewer’s expectations and challenge the means by which women’s identities have long been obscured, idealized, and marginalized. “My intention is to free expression, emotions, and vitality,” the artist notes. “These paintings balance between ideal and distorted, elegant and wild, beautiful and grotesque, human and inhuman.”