Dieter Treeck

Pictures of Survival in a Place of Lost Dreams


Iwona Siwek-Front is an artist whose images arise from direct confrontation. Her concern as a woman determines the choice of themes. The fate of women whose lives and survival depend on self-submission to male desires, all too often based on male violence, is the main theme of her cycle ‘The Whores of Cracow’ (‘Kurwy krakowskie’).
In her paintings, she follows the gaze of men who barely treat woman as an individual. It is the primary pleasure zones of a woman the man desires revolve and the fact is strongly exposed in Iwona’s works. The ambiance of a moment defines the look at the motif and indents the image cutout in the focus of perception, the artist’s message carries and condenses. The pictures of the red-light district in Cracow are not sociograms. They may contain the names of significance for Iwona, but for a viewer they are not relevant, because he is not able to assign them to any recognizable identity. But behind the apparent anonymity of an individual fate there is an enormous willingness to fight for life. ‘The Great Roxi’ (‘Wielka Roxi’) is a monument of the aggressive will to live … and to survive. And ‘Cathy’ (‘Kaśka’), who defends her territory with wide-spread legs, seems to be one with that place far from any shelter. For those who adore the city of Cracow, where Iwona is so deeply rooted, it’s not easy to integrate those characteristic elements of the red-light district with their own images of the city. Mainly because of giving up the recognizable background and simultaneously keeping all the morbid details. This is the world of nightmares and also a metaphor for ‘It couldn’t happen anyway …’ The viewer wonders: Is there any time after? Any afterlife? Does the wedding dress at the front window symbolize the defiant little girl’s hope without which there would be no survival? (‘The Dream of Kaśka from Szlak’) (‘Marzenie Kaśki ze Szlaku’) But the paintings do not moralize. They do not accuse. Dirt and traces of decay in the motives show the condition of human existence, reduced to metaphors in a world based on places, symbols and language(s). And on an ubiquitous cigarette giving a fleeting moment of illusory substitute for warmth. ‘Traces of Marlena’ (‘Ślady Marleny’) in the world of special offers ‘on Mondays and Fridays 20% off’ The parking sign in the background, the gown in the front window, the golden pipe: graffiti are recording the symbols of decaying world. And then the triptych ‘BMW’, closely linked to the widely recognized symbol of status and wealth, which becomes a luring means for satisfying male desires.The polish title ‘Baby mają wolność’ means ‘Women Are Free’ … but this freedom is based on the dependence on whether the deep neckline or sloppy negligee back lure the proudly sprawled chap in his luxury car. And the mailbox in the background isn’t any connection to a better world. So Iwona Siwek-Front, already known far beyond the borders of Poland as an outstanding animated moviemaker and cartoonist with her very personal visual language, becomes a painter immersed with realistic duct in a world she gives some new perspectives, new facets… through images that disturb…


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