The cycle, Summer, by Kasia Domańska

You are very beautiful. Are you in the pictures? - Barton Fink said to a beautiful stranger he met on the beach in the last scene of the well known film by the Coen brothers. Looking at the images from the newest 'beach cycle' by Kasia Domańska brings to mind this film and this scene. And of course the photograph depicting a sunbathing woman with whom it all had started and who accompanied Fink in his literary struggle. The photograph, showing a beach, the image of idyllic happiness, which becomes reality in the final scene and is similar to the paintings of Kasia Domańska - they seem to depict our dreams. They are an illustration of everything which is usually associated with a carefree summer: a beach under a brilliant sun, waves on the sea, blue sky, parasols, sun screens, beautiful young women in colourful bikinis, little girls playing in the sand ... Summer's lazy tardiness ... 'Summertime. And the livin' is easy,' ... What else do you need?

That phrase, at the beginning, seems trivial; nevertheless it is difficult to translate directly into Polish. In English, 'pictures', has numerous meanings: paintings, images, photos, film ... So what is Fink asking about? Is he asking if the beautiful stranger from the beach is lending 'her image' - does she act in films, pose for photos? Well, since she's beautiful she must ... Or maybe Barton Fink is surprised that his dream is becoming reality and asks the woman he met on the beach if she is the one he 'knows' from the photographs?

Just as the Coens' film, the paintings of Kasia Domańska, seemingly so evident and obvious, so photographically realistic, are ambiguous, creating the possibility of multiple interpretations. It seems that everything is easy: light and lovely. What could be nicer than a beach in the summer? And yet ... They are also intriguing, they grab the attention ... And provocative, posing questions. Why paint so faithfully from a photo? Why these motifs: flowers, young, attractive women swimming in a pool or on a beach? In so many variations, with such riches? We are assaulted by countless images like this; they have become an element of the every day visual landscape: advertisements, colour magazines, travel agency folders ... So why 'duplicate' them in paintings? So much work and with the skill and devotion typical of Old Masters? With the verve of a documentary film maker and with almost scientific precision, building on canvas an illusion of reality (or something resembling reality - its ideal image)?

Kasia Domańska's painting style is not devoid of charm. A certain kind of specific ... beauty. It is not easy to say and write this word, especially in the context of art. It seems to be out of place here. So maybe Kasia Domańska is trying to restore this 'forgotten' category through her work, posing the question of the possibility of beauty today? The answer to the question, beauty, seems not that obvious, on the contrary - it seems to evoke more questions. Is beauty connected with pleasure, attractiveness? Is there anything simple about it, some sort of effortless perception? Is there anything universal, 'static' in beauty, something that despite the variety of preferences certain images are attractive, they draw more attention? It is interesting that beautiful Kasia Domańska is searching within motifs traditionally associated with this category: flowers, images of women. So if something is beautiful, it should be painted.

The painting style of Kasia Domańska is photographic. In a sense, more than photographic: as if hyperphotographic. It is created from photos (photos taken by the author, often framed or adjusted in Photoshop are the inspiration of the paintings) and it refers to photography in its stylistic form: meticulous in picturing detail, composition, framing as if in reference to a photo. In the paintings from the Summer cycle framing is akin to, perhaps close to, voyeurism. The paintings have a specific depth of focus - the background is often accentuated as if the zoom in the camera is being used to get closer to parts out of focus, not accessible to the eye. Kasia Domańska's painting style also has a certain photographic chill and distance. Seemingly everything is taking place in the full glare of the sun, but still seems distant, passionless, and even artificial. Hyperreal. This is underlined by the titles of the paintings reminding us of a list of motifs: summer, storm, rainbow ... The colours are also important: intense, unnaturally fortified, as if 'tuned' by a graphic programme, with that characteristic vivid blue in tone recognized from the earlier cycle, 'Swimming Pool'. Despite its 'photographiness', this is still painting. Honest, well produced painting.

Magdalena Wicherkiewicz