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  • Ewa Harabasz

Artist

Ewa Harabasz was born in Czestochowa, Poland. She currently lives and paints in New York City, where she is represented by The Luxe Gallery. Her paintings have been recently featured in several solo shows in Poland, most recently at Galeria BWA in Bielsko Biala, Le Guern in Warsaw, Galeria Miejska Arsenal in Poznan, and Galeria Wozownia in Torun. Her work was also featured in a solo exhibition at the Luxe Gallery in New York. Her paintings have been included in a number of group shows including “Poza” at Real Art Ways in Hartford (see the catalog, “Poza: On the Polishness of Polish Contemporary Art”). Ewa Harabasz's new work will be presented in 2008 as part of the group show “Identity and Otherness in the Face of Anxiety” at the Socio-Political Contemporary Art Museum in Jerusalem, Israel.

Harabasz has worked in church and religious art conservation in Italy and Poland, and grew up in Czestochowa, the seat of a Polish national religious shrine—a Byzantine icon called “Black Madonna.” She has been a visiting assistant professor at Cornell University since 2005.

Statement

The images painted by Ewa Harabasz present themselves as ambiguous “icons”: it is unclear whether they refer to media representations of present-day war and destruction or to religious or spiritual iconography. Harabasz appropriates mass media images from the wars in Bosnia and Iraq, the Beslan tragedy, and London underground transportation terrorism by using photographic transfer methods combined with painting on wood in the style of inspirational religious art. Harabasz insists that the spectacle inherent in her images is a critical reflection on how the destruction and horror of human suffering in war and terrorism is often glamorized and dramatized, and turned into present-day pseudo-icons by the mass media to be consumed by the public as a “redeeming” experience. Writer Dora Apel cautions viewers to reflect “that these works are less analogous to the Byzantine icons of Harabasz's native Poland than the International Gothic paintings of the late Middle Ages, which demanded of religious art that it correlate with people's everyday experience. Paintings of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries employed an extensive use of gold to create a sumptuous surface but combined it with a radical naturalism. The images ultimately pictured the workings of secular power, combined with religious figures. This came about at a time when religion focused increasingly on human and humane concerns. Similarly Harabasz uses a spiritual lens to focus on worldly experience, achieving, for modern sensibilities, the same elegance, coloristic splendor, narrative detail, and lyricism as those earlier medieval works.”

Harabasz says that despite her obvious references to the Madonna images and other religious iconography, she wishes these images to be viewed as “false icons.” While saints and martyrs are immortalized via religious art, the survivors and victims whom media notoriously immortalize had no choice in their suffering. [End Page 81]


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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6539
Print ISSN
0300-7162
Pages
pp. 81-89
Launched on MUSE
2008-09-12
Open Access
No
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