Painter Ewa Juszkiewicz takes on the history and complex symbolism of portraiture, exploring the relationship between gender and power through a surreal lens. Where for centuries portraits of women have been created primarily by men, Juskiewicz creates figures whose features seem to reject Western cultural standards of beauty. Replacing women’s faces with polypores, insect bodies, bouquets of flowers, tribal masks, or draped fabrics, Juszkiewicz brings qualities of voyeurism and luxury to their extreme while challenging contemporary ideals of feminine beauty. Ginger Locks depicts a figure wearing a luxurious blue dress, but thick locks of hair cover her entire head and face. Her work, Juskiewicz says, is “a bit like making fun of history. We consider ourselves to be more modern than our ancestors, but we actually squeeze ourselves into our own, modern ‘corsets.’” 

Ewa Juszkiewicz (b. 1984, Gdańsk, Poland) lives and works in Kraków. She holds a master’s degree in painting from the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk and a PhD from the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków. Juszkiewicz’s works are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw; National Museum, Gdańsk; Museum of Contemporary Art, Szczecin; BWA Gallery, Olsztyn; and Galeria Bielska BWA, Bielsko, Poland.