Artists: Karolina Jabłońska
Venue: Raster Gallery, Warszaw
Cold. Cold prevails outside. Snow has even fallen, and when we open our lips, our breath turns into clouds of fog, quickly rising in the wintry air. When it blows harder, locks of hair stick to the face. Snowflakes fall over the head, hair, eyebrows, and then slowly melt under the fading body heat.
Cold is also a metaphor. You feel it on your own skin, but it also seeps into your brain. It does not come out of nowhere, but is everywhere when something bad happens, at dawn, after dusk, after a hot summer, after a time of peace, wellbeing and relative prosperity. It slows down your movements and thoughts, thickens, turns into snow and clumps into large, handmade snowballs. You can bite the snow and rub with it.
Clothing protects against the cold—a thick second skin. You can hide in it, but you can also get stuck trying to pull off an oversized sweater. Struggle inside, pretending you can’t see anything and that you are invisible yourself. Even for a brief moment. A daily, internal battle: To be here or there? Inside or outside? In yourself or with others?
There’s also a wardrobe. A large, wooden wardrobe that belonged to grandmother. Open wide. Maybe someone was in a hurry or, on the contrary, had too much time to try on more. A sheepskin coat, blouses, a bathrobe. Gloves, belt, scarf tumbling on the floor, tights hanging through the door. Clothes coiled on the shelves. In the dim light, the colours of the clothes merge. They drown in cool blues like the rest of the room.
The wardrobe can also serve as a metaphor. It’s a place between inside and outside, between past and present, between the domestic self and the self that others see—on the street, in town, travelling. A place that may not be in perfect order, where items and stories from different generations mingle, charged with emotions, expectations and premonitions of what happened or is about to happen.
In her latest paintings, Karolina Jabłońska emphatically relates all of this: coldness and violence, fear, distance and incapacity, but also a strong will, an independent self. What is my own and what is shared, what is experienced alone and what is inherited. She narrates from the only possible perspective, from inside her clothes, from the body and the emotions buried in it, as in a wardrobe.
Jabłońska’s exhibition is titled Cold, and the paintings presented in the show form a concise and suggestive narrative of violence, despair, distance and helplessness, but also of strong will and the independent, individual self. The cold referenced in the title is a metaphor for a vicious, warlike aura recorded through the experience of the body. As usual in Jabłońska’s work, it is a tale told in the first person singular—from her interior and the emotions buried there like clothes in a wardrobe.