I use the aesthetic and artistic traditions which are commonly respected to convey the values and criticism which are against the dominating discourse. At the same time, I confront myself with old taboos and deep-rooted prejudice and shame.
As a person brought up in a Polish, highly conservative family, I internalize the Catholic values and an aversion to certain sexual behaviors and ultimately also to myself. Through my work, I try to free body and sex from the religious matrix. On one hand, I work with depictions of religious scenes and combine them with what is excluded and on another hand. I redefine them and create a new narration.
Shepards, 2013, oil on canvas, 60×60, private collection
The End of the World, 2013, oil on canvas, 160×120
Holy Trinity, 2012, oil on canvas, 180×80
Study of Saint Anthony, drawing on paper, private collection
Saint Anthony and Demons, 2012, oil canvas, 160×120, private collection
Saint Anthony was a Christian monk from Egypt also known as the father of monks. He was born in a wealthy landowner family. When he was about 18 years old Anthony gave away all his property and donated the funds to the poor. Then he left to live an ascetic life in the desert, where Anthony is said to have faced a series of supernatural temptations. In my interpretation of the Temptation of Saint Anthony, I enact the subject using the methodology of Queer Theology.
Queer Theology decodes Bible trough the experience of LGBTQ+ Community and focuses on their specific needs. It is purposefully transgressive, challenges and deconstructs social and cultural norms regarding the “natural” binary categories of sexual and gender identities. Queer theology reclaims Christianity for the LGBT+ Community.
The relocation of gender and sexual identities creates news meanings, associations, and possible narrations.
In the classical portrayal of the theme, Saint Anthony is being seduced by a woman or beaten by demons, who are trying to force him to commit a sin. The man stands for spirituality and virtue which is threatened by a woman as a representation of irrationality, carnality, animal instincts and a sin. In my work, I oppose this traditional bipolar division. The male body is simultaneously a subject and an object of desire. The division between the body and spirit is abolished.
The Demons can be seen as a figure of a symbolic order (the God, society etc.), that oppresses the sexuality of the individual. The anal masturbation becomes a radical, heroic act of opposing the reproductive, phallocentric discourse and manifestation of freedom.
Not celibacy but engaging in a sexual act not oriented on reproduction (according to St. Augustine only sex intended for procreation inside marriage is allowed, what Žižek would describe as a perverted materialism) becomes a virtue.
Adoration, 2012, oil on canvas, 120×80, private collection