Usługa języka migowego

Dominika Kowynia, Narrow Passage

September 19, 2020

Opening: September 19, 2020, from 12 to 8 pm

Exhibition runs till October 30, 2020.

Curator: Katarzyna Krysiak


Most of the paintings on show at the exhibition are Dominika Kowynia’s latest works, created in 2020. However, the pretext for the story being told are two older and, at the same time, highly personal works, Cousin (2009) and Snow White (2017). In a way, both paintings speak of a moment of interior transformation, of colliding with reality, of disintegration and of awakening from unconsciousness, of endeavouring to view facts rationally and of the role of chance and potentiality. The central characters of the works on display in the exhibition are women and they are the focus of attention, along with their strengths and the roles they have to play in a changing world.

However, as ever, Kowynia’s storytelling is indirect. The narrow passage is usually uncomfortable and difficult to overcome. Often, we cannot see where it leads to and wonder what awaits us at the other end. Will we get stuck? Or will we succeed in moving on? In Kowynia’s bitterly bitter paintings, her personal experiences and family stories interweave with her intent observation of the world as it disintegrates in front of our eyes.

The Work of the Hand (2020) and Rummaging (2020) are works where, as Kowynia herself says, echoing journalist Edwin Bendyk, the “malignant interlocking” of contemporary problems and the personal sphere occurs. The paintings “are about striving to understand what is happening while simultaneously desiring not to lose contact with oneself”.

Something clearly visible in Kowynia’s works is her focus on, and profound sensitivity to, universal concerns, such as the progressive degradation of community life and the natural world around us visible in Narrow Passage (2020). Some are imbued with sorrow, helplessness and yearning for a different reality which would allow us to save the world from self-destruction, like Cousin, for instance. Some are shot through with disappointment at the superficiality and mundanity of contemporary humanity. There is no cynical calculation here. Severely painted, stripped of ornamentation and seductive form, these paintings confront us with a brutal truth about ourselves, intensifying our conviction as to the inescapability of the end, as in Tepid (2020), for example. With the apocalyptic atmosphere apparent in works like Bonfires (2020), her most recent images divest us of any sense of hope. It is like Lars von Trier’s film; when we look at them, we sense that Melancholia will not pass us by.


A figurative painter, Dominika Kowynia (b. 1978) studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Katowice and is now in her second decade on the faculty there. She is interested in the interface between personal experiences, on the one hand, and current events, recent history and literature on the other.

Kowynia has had numerous solo exhibitions and participated in scores of group shows. The institutions and events where her works have recently been seen include the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, the City Arts Centre in Gorzów Wielkopolski, the 2018 Warsaw Gallery Weekend, Szara Gallery in Katowice, the Stefan Gierowski Foundation in Warsaw, Widna Gallery in Krakow and the Bielska Jesień Painting Biennale at the BWA Bielska Gallery in Bielsko-Biała in 2015 and 2017, where she was highly commended by “NN6T”, an arts quarterly. The Bielsko-Biała gallery also hosted her Attempt at Reversing solo exhibition in 2020.

Her paintings can be found in the collections of the ING Polish Art Foundation, the BWA Bielska Gallery and the Bęc Zmiana Foundation. They are also held in a number of private collections.

Dominika Kowynia collaborates with Szara Gallery on an ongoing basis.