Portrait is one of the oldest, most obvious painting themes. After all, it is with our faces that we enter the world. The face is the first element we see when we meet a person, often before a word appears, a question is asked. Through the experience of standing face to face, we become witnesses of a presence that is unique, Emmanuel Levinas, a French philosopher, once wrote. According to him, meeting the face of another should evoke responsibility for it, because we see suffering in it, which awakens the impulse to protect. But this face, which is supposed to arouse concern, often becomes a target of violence.
The faces in Łukasz Dziedzic’s paintings, like any other, are palimpsests, i.e. places of history being overwritten on one another, for example one’s own history on the family history, such maps of shared guilt, but also of forgiveness. In the project „And when you look at me”, traumas related to literal facial injuries are also treated symbolically in a certain way, they are visual representations of difficult experiences that we carry within us.

The faces painted by Dziedzic can be interpreted superficially as aesthetically unpleasant representations. Psychologically as an expression of bad experiences, experienced or inherited traumas. Clearly as documents, testimonies of harm done to faces by the world or as a result of self-aggression. Since every face is a record of some violence, Dziedzic asks: how much can a face endure and at what point does a person lose it?

The artist makes some of the portraits unreal and aestheticizes them. As if he wanted them to evoke conflicting emotions. As if the uncertainty of their reception was important to him.

The painting project „And when you look at me” also seems to be a reaction to the current socio-political situation: armed conflicts, pandemics and viruses, isolation, severe collective experience of fear and uncertainty.
Text: Justyna Tomska

And When You Look At Me

text: Justyna Tomska
venue: Artist-run-space Oblatów4, Katowice, PL