Martyna Czech

ur. 1990, Tarnow

Painter. Graduate of the School of Fine Arts in Krakow and workshop of Prof. Andrzej Tobis. In her expressionist painting she deals with toxic relations between people as well as violence against animals. Her work often draws on her own personal experiences. She depicts them in a blunt, often even brutal manner—formally as well as thematically. Her work is strongly driven by extreme emotions—love, hate, nostalgia, regret, and suffering. She was the 2015 winner of the 42nd Painting Biennale of Bielska Jesień. She lives and works in Katowice.

Rose's Desire

2019, oil, canvas, 100 x 160 cm

Like most of Czech’s paintings, Rose's Desire was created in one session. For her, painting is the practice of working through difficult personal experiences, a form of emotional cleansing. The titular rose—a symbol of romantic love—is a typical symbolic self-portrait for the artist. Many hands open like flower petals, fingers and bones as leaves and thorns. The hand outstretched in a gesture of welcome could signal openness to another person, the beginning of a new relationship. However Czech paints the hand as withering. Wilting flowers are a classic motif in the history of painting: vanitas. The dark, corpse-like colors of Rose's Desire bring to mind 17th century still lifes of rotting organic matter, meant as a reminder that happiness is temporary, and life is fleeting.

The dark side of romantic love is—to continue with the plant metaphor—withering from longing, with obsessive thoughts that buzz like flies, and memories that twist around in the mind. Rose's Desire speaks of our helplessness in the face of extreme emotions, strung out between love and hate. Opening oneself to emotions means risking hurt—there is no rose without its thorns.

The Universe of My Heart

2020, oil, acrylic, canvas, 100 x 100 cm

The Universe of My Heart is built like a matryoshka doll made of animals’ hearts. In Martyna’s human heart we find the progressively smaller hearts of animals that have played an important role in her life: a horse, dog, cat, rabbit, chicken, and fish. The organs of the individual creatures are connected by blood vessels, linking them together as one symbiotic living organism. The deep blacks, violets, and muted reds build up the secretive, heightened atmosphere of this careful observation of the dark interior of the body.
The painting can be read as an expression of concern and love for all living beings, and a reminder that humankind is one with them. Each has its own appointed place in nature, all linked together in more or less visible interdependency. The artist painted The Universe of My Heart after the death of her beloved rabbit. Going through the different stages of grief, she expresses feelings of hurt, suffering, helplessness, and loss.

Domna (Homeful)

2019, oil, canvas, 140 x 90 cm

This painting is an emotional self-portrait, typical of the artist. The title Domna (Homeful) is an antonym of the word homeless. The common root of the word highlights the contrast between their meanings.
Domna is a painting—but also a wish. That settling down would ward off the artist’s constant feeling of being homeless in the world. The figure in the painting holds her hands over her head in the shape of a roof, however the gesture could also be interpreted as begging, or praying. This is a symbolic home, that the artist built for herself with difficulty. Safety and security are not only physically, but also psychically, necessary.
As is characteristic of Czech’s paintings, the background is simplified, painted flat like in a child’s drawing, a common motif of which is the family home. However the figure in Domna is completely alone, embodying the artist’s desire to live in the wilderness, far from people, surrounded by farmland. But this is no idyll. In Czech’s world, life is full of uncertainty and the struggle for existence. Moments of apparent stability are illusory and only strengthen the desire to take root.

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