Tuesday, October 15, 2013

"Hello, Modernity" by Mirosław Jasińśki

Mirosław Jasiński

"Hello, Modernity !"

As befits an introduction to the art world of Julia Curyło I should begin with an equivocal paradox. Because I realized that (or at least so it seems) before our very own eyes, thanks to the efforts of several thousands of people, for the price of 6 billion of Swiss francs, we have managed to explain the meaning of certain two lines. For this is how much the LHC — The Large Hadron Collider costs, the biggest particle accelerator in the world, and simultaneously the largest technical device built by humans. The main aim behind its creation was the search for the predicted in theory and mathematical equations “God’s particle”— Higgs boson. Its empirical discovery filled (more or less) the missing link of the so called Standard Model which forms our (i.e. humanity’s) notions about the creation of the Universe. Thanks to Higgs boson the elementary particles acquire mass and without it it is difficult to explain the existence of the material world. Up until the announcement was made in July of last year about the discovery of H0, the Standard Model was the most useful, though not completely proven empirically, hypothesis which tried to fuse various theories and develop the Einsteinian paradigm we live in. In other words, it wasn’t entirely clear how particles acquire mass, becoming matter in a colloquially (though incorrectly because of the simplification) understood sense. From the Einstein’s famous equation comes that m=E/c2. The aforementioned two lines are naturally the equality sign, the sense and mechanism of which was now discovered. I began with this encouraging — containing the accomplishments of the human mind, imagination and technology alongside the readiness and willingness of thousands of people from various parts of the world to cooperate— story, not only because one of the latest great cycles of Julia Curyło’s paintings H0 particle was devoted exactly to LHC — the Large Hadron Collider and the whole scientific experiment, designed to discover the aforementioned “God’s particle”. This metaphorical description of Higgs boson serves Julia Curyło to create a vision, it must be said an ambiguous one, not devoid of ambivalence, of new cosmogony, in which the place of God-Creator is occupied by the accelerator. Its real shape, which to some degree resembles the depictions of God present in not only our tradition was referring to our iconographic depictions, painted with a visionary panache. As a matter of fact, and this applies not only to the said cycle but — it seems — to the earlier works as well, the central problem raised by the work of Julia Curyło, and by the perspective she adopted, is the perspective of spirit. H.G. Gadamer wrote that “In our daily life we proceed constantly through the coexistence of past and future. The essence of what is called ‹spirit› lies in the ability to move within the horizon of an open future and an unrepeatable past. Mnemosyne, the muse of memory and recollective appropriation, rules here as the muse of spiritual freedom. The same activity of spirit finds expression in memory and recollection, which incorporates the art of the past along with our own artistic tradition, as well as in recent daring experiments with their unprecedented deformation of form”. 1 I have this strange feeling that there is a parallel between the search conducted by physicists from CERN and that of Julia Curyło’s. If we were to assume an expanded Aristotelian definition of truth we could believe that the painted picture, in all its factuality, in the sense contained in it — being here and now, is also a vessel of meanings, and therefore truth. Truth of an artwork understood in Heideggerian terms, as an experience of a whole essence. Truth, in which, besides revealing, it remains inseparably connected to concealing and shrouding, that belong to human finitude 2. This means that in an art work there is something more than just a meaning in some inexplicable way perceived as sense. As a “creation” a painting is both an assessment of reality and the reality itself, a judgement on the topic of fundamental human experience in the world, his existence as well as the being in itself. In that sense being a thing it places itself on the left side of the equation mentioned in the introduction — it is “m”. The spiritual energy imprisoned in it (the spiritual picture, to stick with physical theories, we could call a hologram) defines its weight. What is it then and what is the essence of artistic particle H0? “God’s particle”. What about art work gives sense to this equation? And how much does the concept of sense in art differ from the one used by science? In imaginary compositions one can articulate contents that, as Kant described them, allow us “to go on to think much that cannot be said”. 3
Imagination of Julia Curyło works a bit like LHC — various elements of the visible world and past: contained in the art’s tradition and modern, real and imagined, perceived and processed. Fields, which we know from the physical terminology, here find their references in spiritual sphere — they affect and disappear, transform and vanish. The particles whirling in this world, composed into the cobweb of meanings collide with each other. Yet somewhere in the background lingers the question about the presence and nature of that “God’s particle”, which adds mass to the others, weightiness, weight characteristic of a self-conscious, experiencing itself, essence. Worthy of admiration is the consistency with which the artist penetrates these very ambiguous and ambivalent borderlands between what is spiritual and material, transcendental and trivial, lofty and earthly. The equivocality or ambiguity which permeates Julia Curyło’s canvases results out of not yielding to the temptation of simple assessment of modernity, out of moralization or ‹engagement›, even if it was to be only ‹engagement› on the behalf of ‹a good taste›. There is something in this stance that Thomas Mann described as “paradoxical nonuniformity and inconsistency of spirit and its attitude towards the problem of human. Spirit — said Mann — is multi-layered and any attitude to the mankind’s matters is therefore possible, even the non-humanist or antihumanist one. Spirit is not a monolith, it does not constitute a coherent force, determined to mould the world, life and society in its image”. 4
One of the basic and most important roles of culture, and especially of art, is to integrate the spirit into reality, into warthe dialogue between human and the specific reality surrounding him, the specific things, people, time of year and day. Without that dimension he himself loses pertinence and becomes Elliot’s “hollow man”, a vacuum enclosed in a cuticle layer, unimportant, floating like “Lambs of God” or “chicks” in the air. These inflatable props out of the artist’s paintings, floating perhaps in a subjective sense of freedom, or, devoid of insides, only external, lazy and satiated (as in the Breakfast on the Beach) represent a polysemous leitmotiv of Julia Curyło’s body of work. In that sense she has decisively reviewed and inverted the meanings in relation to the post-modern interpretations. The painting of mandala on one hand, contains in itself the prefiguration of full essence, cosmic order, and on the other hand, as in for instance Hindu art, the idea of eternal recurrence. As Milan Kundera reminds: “(…) Nietzsche called the idea of eternal return the heaviest of burdens (das schwerste Gewicht). If eternal return is the heaviest of burdens, then our lives can stand out against it in all their splendid lightness. (...)The heaviest of burdens is therefore simultaneously an image of life’s most intense fulfilment. The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and truthful they become. Conversely, the absolute absence of a burden causes man to be lighter than air, to soar into the heights, take leave of the earth and his earthly being, and become only half real, his movements as free as they are insignificant.” 5
The title given to the exhibition by the artist herself set an ambivalent tone and a distanced take on the modern culture in its current shape. In English it retains its ambiguity (in case of Polish declensions it is impossible). Is it welcoming the modernity or quite the contrary? Personally, I opt for the interpretation where the word “hello” is used in the context of walking into e.g. a shop with a front-sign above the door saying “Mr. Johnson”. We come in, there’s no one inside (is the owner at the back room?), we look around and call “Hello, Mr. Johnson!”. Uncertain
of someone’s presence we declare our arrival. But does modernism or modernity still exist, and if so, what does it mean and how does it look like? Maybe the owner is missing, and there are only vending machines with beverages, coffee, sandwiches and sweets blinking with lights under the walls, etc. The sleep of reason produces machines. Carrying of Kunderian load, the quest for the Holy Grail against the odds, looking for important values is difficult. Nonetheless it is the gist of art. Otherwise it turns into kitsch or yields to the temptations of mass produced art.
Already a hundred years ago R.M. Rilke wrote: “Most people have (with the help of conventions) turned their solutions toward what is easy and toward the easiest side of the easy; but it is clear that we must trust in what is difficult; everything alive trusts in it, everything in Nature grows and defends itself any way it can and is spontaneously itself, tries to be itself at all costs and against all opposition.” 6 What impresses is the magnitude and diversity of clues left by Julia Curyło in her paintings, which sometimes are deceptive, while at other occasions polysemous. She basically puts all the spheres of spiritual activities to a test for authentic presence of transcendent element, to a test for presence of triviality’s virus. She does not do it from a position of a doctor, neither a reformer of tainted civilization, nor a cultural activist. Rather, it is rich in intellectual fun with the crevices discovered between sacrum and profanum. Moreover, the crevices between profanum and its imitation, with a typical of children dispassionate curiosity for observing the struggling modern culture. “Hello Modernity” is certainly not a call of someone who uncritically accepts the present norms, someone trendy. Someone who wants to be cool even though he lacks the passion to authentically create real culture. Religion, science, art, all of them appear to be susceptible to fetishisation, to ideologization, and as a consequence they become utilitarianized or perhaps utilized? That which is transcendental disappears in the brash neon blaze of artificial paradises. The old gods lose on importance, tamed to the size of cheap devotional articles. They are stripped of the drama reflecting the human condition. Zbigniew Herbert wrote about this: “First there was a god of night and tempest, a black idol without eyes, before whom they leaped, naked and smeared with blood. Later on, in the times of the republic, there were many gods with wives, children, creaking beds, and harmlessly exploding thunderbolts. At the end only superstitious neurotics carried in their pockets little statues of salt, representing the god of irony. There was no greater god at that time. Then came the barbarians. They too valued highly the little god of irony. They would crush it under their heels and add it to their dishes.” 7
Julia Curyło’s art contains a strong charge of irony, furthermore the artist remains consistent and includes herself in the stylistic of her reality, both in the paintings and in the life, self-ironically situating herself in this world of “wonders”, which replaced the metaphysics. Of course irony is a weapon that is very dangerous, both to the viewer and the creator. It is easy to use it as a cover-up for helplessness towards the quiddity, to change contemplation into play, concentration into entertainment. The aforementioned R.M. Rilke warned: “Don’t let yourself be controlled by it, especially during uncreative moments. When you are fully creative, try to use it, as one more way to take hold of life. Used purely, it too is pure, and one needn’t be ashamed of it; but if you feel yourself becoming too familiar with it, if you are afraid of this growing familiarity, then turn to great and serious objects, in front of which it becomes small and helpless. Search into the depths of Things: there, irony never descends — and when you arrive at the edge of greatness, find out whether this way of perceiving the world arises from a necessity of your being. For under the influence of serious Things it will either fall away from you (if it is something accidental), or else (if it is really innate and belongs to you) it will grow strong, and
become a serious tool and take its place among the instruments
which you can form your art with.” 8
It appears that in case of Julia Curyło we are dealing with an innate property, an immanent quality of her perception of the world, but also with one of the fundamental rules she follows during making of her paintings (and not only paintings).
For the viewer, when irony is written into modus Vivendi of the presented art, when it is not ostentatious, it could be a trap. Both in the reading of stylistic devices used, the form and the conveyed meanings. This is where, I think, originate the references to neo-pop, symbolical realism, fascination with kitsch, Jeff Koons, activism, falling into popular trends of bashing the Pharisaism of religious art present in the commentaries and discussions of Julia Curyło’s works. In a nutshell, when encountering her paintings, the commentators and reviewers very often stumble on staffage, bound against the surface. They do not dig deep enough to reach the deeper meanings (maybe because sometimes it is difficult to dig when we ourselves are floating above the ground…).
Similarly misleading is the superficial lightness in choice of visual depiction of the questions asked. Their density covers, as Immanuel Kant noted, that “concepts only in the face of a particular, individual work ‹gain resonance›”. Hence, it is an inverted process — the function of a concept is to create a kind of resonator which could articulate the play of imagination. With all of their complex subject matters and wilfulness, Julia Curyło’s paintings captivate with their form, stretched out in a Gadamerian triad of “play, symbol and festivity”, thanks to their form, they speak plausibly. If we are looking within art for a union of imagination, thoughts, emotions and warrant of workshop experience and proficiency — then the encounter with paintings by Julia Curyło fulfils these expectations — it is a festival, more so, a joyful festival in a way. Because the invoked, contained in them irony, is not mean, nor mordant, nor haughty. On the contrary. One gets the impression that it was for Julia Curyło that over four hundred year Thomas More wrote the artistic program in his prayer:
Give me a soul that knows not boredom,
grumblings, sighs and laments,
nor excess of stress, because of that
obstructing thing called ‹I›.
Grant me, O Lord, a sense of good humor.
Allow me the grace to be able to take a joke
to discover in life a bit of joy,
and to be able to share it with others.” 9

PRI's The World: Canvassing Controversy

The Nobel Prize in Physics 2013 was awarded jointly to François Englert and Peter W. Higgs "for the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles, and which recently was confirmed through the discovery of the predicted fundamental particle, by the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN's Large Hadron Collider".
I 've done LHC series two years ago, when sientists were searching the God's particle ("LHC, Cathedral" is one of the painting from LHC series) .
I am really happy with the Nobel Prize 2013!

Hello, Modernity !

Ewa Sułek
Hello, Modernity!

Exhibition in the Wroclaw’s City Gallery is the first and so varied overview of Julia Curyło’s works. It consists of cycles LHC, Gods particle, Collisions, Meetings and individual works of various subjects, all nonetheless inspired by the present — that, which surrounds, which forms and influences a XXI Century human — and brimming with humor and irony, presented in a surprising, accurate, graceful and light manner. In all of Curyło’s works, regardless of their individual subject matter, we will find a few sources of her fascination. She was always interested in the schemata behind the forming of moral order and ethical rules through cult aesthetics. Her first works show remissive figures of saints amongst inflated dolphins, lambs or soap bubbles. Through her big-format, very detailed canvas she analysed the attitude of 21st Century human to faith, mysticism and religion. She was especially fascinated by the problem of faith’s commercialization, the issue of pop-culture being present in religion and tied to it aesthetic of kitsch and tawdry spectacles. Figures of saints are answers to the search for God, His material equivalents. The modern human, “homo modernus”, thinks in images — thus the need to materialize the god and the saints, and to search for tangible evidence of their existence. From the first cycle of works Curyło naturally moves to the next series of paintings devoted to LHC, the Large Hadron Collider, which is used by CERN scientists to look for the God’s element in human world. Four paintings from that big-format series can be seen at the exhibition in Wrocław — LHC Genesis, LHC Judgement, LHC Cathedral and LHC Love.
 In preparation for these painting Curyło visited the Genevan CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) where works are undergoing on what is the likely biggest experiment in the world’s history. It is in these picturesque surroundings of the lake Como that the largest machine on earth was created - the Large Hadron Collider — LHC, an accelerator, that is the construction accelerating the matter particles. From 2008 LHC collides two opposing particle beams of protons with collision energy of 14 TeV and constituting only a half of maximal power. The scientists hope that with collisions achieved using the doubled energies they will be able to distinguish the Higgs boson, denoted as H0. This hypothetical elementary particle was supposed to exist for approximately 10 miliseconds after the Big Bang and is thought to have brought all matter into existence. This is why it is called by some the God’s particle. It is because of it that other elementary parts of matter could gain mass. Scientists from CERN think that Higgs particles fulfil a key role in the universe. Their discovery could give an answer to a question that has been riddling humanity for centuries: how was the world came to be? Constructors of the collider and the supporters of the experiment are looking for a rational explanation to the mystery of matter’s existence. They do not find any satisfaction in the explanations provided by faith, which repeatedly postulate the existence of a higher being, the creator and demiurge, the maker of Universe (creationism is an element in three out of five largest world religions, the monotheistic religions — Judaism, Christianity and Islam). This conflict regarding the theory of creation carries with it many other issues — including the question of how will our perception of world change, if scientists prove the existence of hypothetical H0 particle? Curyło is not interested in the answer to that question — she is fascinated by the search itself and the great challenge that a human undertakes when dealing with the mystery of universe. The questions Paul Gauguin asked himself over hundred years ago in the famous painting Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? haven’t sincredible civilisational development and modern technologies. CERN’s experiment one on hand reflects the man of science who, using the tools available to him, tries to rationalize and explain that, which was so far based on faith. On the other hand it reveals the human being as inferior to the power of creation and nature, trying to uncover its mysteries and to get closer to the unknown. Curyło’s paintings abound with symbols and allegories showing  different aspects of the search. Directing our attention to the methods of Aby Warburg and Erwin Panafosky, I would like to take a closer look at the four paintings by Curyło which were selected for the exhibition in the City Gallery.
LHC Genesis stands for a kind of fantasy about the world’s creation. The painting could easily illustrate the Hexameron displayed in the initial chapters of Genesis, if it wasn’t for the massive machinery set up at its centre. It covers the prelapsarian landscape, illustrating the original state of happiness and symbiosis in the garden of Eden. Animals, earth and sky coexist in ideal harmony, the idyllic atmosphere is underlined by the soap bubble floating in the air. The idyll is eclipsed by the gigantic creation, the LHC construct, which is the creator of all being in Curyło’s painting. The contrast between nature and mechanics is made even stronger by putting it in a frame made out of cables. In Paradise there are no humans — it is the primal, harmonious state of nature, before any interference from humans, which also places it alongside the more widely explored issues of dehumanism in art, removal of the load from the mankind’s back as the centre of universe.
LHC Love is a question about new life. God, in Christian understanding, is the maker and the giver of life. In Curyło’s work an iron construction takes His place — clearly visible is the intercourse between colliders, which resemble the female and male reproductive systems. It is the mechanical fertilization, as a result of which a new element emerges — maybe it is the antimatter, maybe the pre-particle or H0 particle. On this canvas appear the elements characteristic of her earlier pieces — the irregular, resemblant of soap-bubbles shapes. In Curyło’s works they symbolize creation, the crystallization of the new. From them emerge the little people — the figures of men and women, symbolizing the biblical Adam and Eve, emerging to the shore. However these are not humans made out of flesh and bones but Japanese dolls Dollfie, that can get makeup, have their features changed, be individually assembled and have their history remade from the scratch. Dollfie are zanot
children’s toys, their owners are adults constituting a very specific subculture, restricted to blogs and internet forums. Every doll is very expensive and represents a real work of art. Collectors change their hair colour, dress or even sex. Playing with these dolls is like imitating reality, creating of a parallel world filled with beautiful, mysterious beings — playing a God.
LHC Judgement refers to the classical in Christian art depiction of the Judgement Day which has the figure of Christ the Judge at its centre, who is punishing but also just and merciful, and places to his sides figures of the redeemed and the damned. The complex machine that constitutes the painting’s focal point on one side spreads destruction, on the other — gives hope and life. By alluding to the traditional catholic iconography, Curyło once again emphasized the connection between her earlier cycle devoted to pop-religion and the LHC cycle.
In LHC Cathedral one can see the great hall where the hadron collider is constructed. The shape of the room resembles a Gothic cathedral. The religious ties are also hinted at by doves and two figures of the Virgin and Child. They resemble objects present in the earlier canvases by Curyło. The statuettes of the Virgin seem to be made of pink plastic, like those that can be bought on Sundays fairs and filled with water. Doves look like the balloons that appeared in large numbers on such paintings as Lambs of God, Jesus, the Good Shepherd Above the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw Or The Temptation of Anthony on Dolphins. The Large Hadron Collider is here in place of God and the whole scene is a symbolic tribute to science and reason. However, the artificial doves and plastic Madonna make us doubt whether the fetishisation of rationalism is not idolatry in the likeness of the one that Curyło presented in her earlier works.
In visionary and deeply symbolical paintings dominates the LHC — The Large Hadron Collider. Its form — circle — represents another another layer of meanings that we can find in these works.
“Everything that is done by the world’s power happens in a cricle. Sky is circular, [...] earth is round like a ball and so are all the stars. Wind in its greatest blows spins. Birds wind round nests. [...] Sun comes up and falls round and round, just like the moon. Even the seasons make the giant rounds in their changes and always return to where they once were. The human life is a circle from childhood to childhood.”
Shape of the machine evokes manadala — it consists of abstract elements that form a regular and closed whole. Mandala, in sanscrit an ambit, circle, appears very frequently in the traditional art of Hindu and Buddhism where it has strong spiritual and ritual meaning. It is believed that the creation of mandala has calming and healing properties. Up to this day Tibetan monks form it out of sand during meditation. Yet we can find mandala in Christianity as well — in the form of rose window, Celtic cross, aureole, oculus or crown of thorns. The motif appears in the illuminated books of Hildergarda of Bingen, a visionary and mystic living in 12th century and in the gnostic practices, i.a. Rosicrucians. Its complex symbolic is most commonly read as an ideal organizational structure of life — a cosmic diagram reminding us about the connections between our lives and eternity and about the world, that is present simultaneously in our bodies and minds and outside of them. According to Carl Jung mandala is the centre of everything — it expresses the essence, the infinitude and the extremity. The structure of circle, which is also the structure of LHC, is in itself perfect and constituting a perfect whole — just like the God in the monotheistic religions. The series of Curyło’s paintings raises the problem of modern god — for some it is science, for other religion. The artist connected the theory of creation which originates in faith and world’s end with the scientific search, picturing a difficult to verbalize problem of the contemporaries — the struggle of rationalism and desire to learn truth against the fidelity towards tradition and faith. The mandala motif is explored by Curyło in another series of canvas or rather objects, Gods particle, which consist of canvases with mandalas and constructs built into them. The motif of mandala and the symbolic related to it dominate each of the works. At its centre are the squares symbolizing that which is earthly and tangible.The kinds of readymades symbolize various faiths and religions, these are the devotional articles hidden behind the glasses in the manner of rosaries and wooden sculptures of saints as well as the village shrines. They allude too to the childish play of “secrets” where, buried underground behind glass, were various “treasures”, that, which is the most valuable to us and of great significance. In a similar manner glass blocks are being built into canvases, so that we can take a peek at the “treasures”. Also for that purpose they are lit by a light-bulb installed into the painting. Square and mandala circle are a combination of the earthly with the divine. The artist explores then her initial preoccupation with the interpenetrating spheres of sacrum and profanum present in our lives also by referring to the search for the God particle and the collisions in the accelerator LHC. In formal terms Curyło was interested in the play with blackness and the combination of traditional oil painting on canvas with sculpture alongside the reference to the traditional arrangement — mounding ofmandalas out of various elements of tangible world.
The series of works devoted to the search of God’s particle is concluded by the cycle Collisions. Several paintings bring to mind a biological abstraction. In reality they comprise a true picture of physical phenomena — they represent moments of photon collisions, shown in an aesthetically
tasteful manner and pleasing to the senses. Series LHC on one side is a search, development, struggle against the nature and the matter alongside the always present with humans, and especially currently, the necessity of naming things, of their materialization, translation.
The current civilisation and its achievements towards a human as a natural being is a motif running through other works of Curyło such as Mother or Artificial Womb. Inspired by the biogenetic search, she addresses issues such as the nature vs technology and industry, the living organism vs the artificial one. Modern human is trapped in the complicated network of dependencies in the face of machines and new technologies that he himself creates. The theme of posthumanism, which is tied to the change in perception of mankind’s place in the world, is present in her works as well. The abandonment of anthropocentric point of view and of the conviction that mankind stops being the centre of the world and the measure of all things and that all the non-human lifeforms are no longer his subjects are the fundamental tenants of posthumanism. Curyło’s art however is not posthumanist, it only investigates the new relationships and problems that are being faced by the modern man — among others a search for one’s place in the world of new technologies. Curyło is also interested in the problems of modern art market, which is the subject of her piece Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst divide the art market. Koons, who in 2007 became the most expensive living artist (the piece Hanging Heart, Magenta, Gold was sold for 23.6 million dollars at an auction). This is not the only reason why he drew Curyło attention. In her early works she often invokes the aesthetics of kitsch and neo-pop in addition to the inflatable objects which are so close to the American artist, who once said in an interview for Chicago Magazine in the June of 2008 2: “the inflatables, of course, are metaphors for people, and they are metaphors of life and optimism for me. The most deathlike image I know is of an inflatable that has collapsed—I try not to keep them around”. Similarly in Curyło’s case — the inflatable animals and human figures in her pictures always cause, despite even the most serious subject matter, that the work appears as joke and elicits a smile from the observer, gains his sympathy. As Mirosław Jasiński writes: “Paintings by Julia Curyło play with borders between culture, knowledge and faith — they show contradictions, restrictions and absurdities against which an individual has a weapon–laughter”. 3 Such is, among other pieces, the Breakfast on the beach — it is a play on one of the best known paintings, the Breakfast on the grass by Edouard Manet. The modern version with inflatable figures which were so characteristic of Curyło’s early works is a light–hearted treatment of the topic of consumerism and going into raptures about material goods. Similarly mainly irony and merriment accompany the painting Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst divide the art market, despite the fact that the artist addresses in it the important problem of the functioning of modern art market. The two giants of art market — Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst are floating over water like Christ over the Lake of Gennesaret, the modern gods worshipped by crowds of flatterers. Just as in the traditional depictions of saints they are accompanied by their attributes, alluding to the best known works — the shark and the skull 4 in case of Hirst and the inflatable dolphin and the doll of Cicciolina 5 for Koons. The inflatable artefacts elevated to the ranks of art, the banal everyday objcts, additionally filled with air, became on the art market objects of great material value. Hirst and Koons are the mega stars of modern market — and in such somewhat ironic manner they are beign depicted by the artist. Heroes carried over the world on their artificial “steeds” — the inflatable dolphin and the shark out of formalin. Hirst’s work For the Love of God (a real human skull encrusted with diamonds) was sold in 2007 for 100 million dollars, becoming the most expensive artwork by a living
artist. Two years later it was discovered that it was bought by a holding company in which the artist himself participated. The object which was created as a jest, for money and as jibe at the centuries-old iconology of skull in art and the theme of vanitas, became one of the most important and most known artistic objects of our times and was exhibited in the most eminent museums in the world like London’s Tate Modern or Riijksmuseum in Amsterdam. 6 Mockery and absurd are what that work and works of Julia Curyło have in common, and so Hirst’s presence in her picture is not only a literal depiction of hero and god of modern art world in the context of art market’s rules of functioning, but rather a kind of wink at the artist himself, whose legacy is close to her in a way.
Another pair of heroes or gods of modernity are Steve Jobbs and Bill Gates shown in the picture A conversation between Steve Jobbs and Bill Gates, the second out of the still open series Meetings. Inspiration for this picture was provided by the book The Map and the Territory by Michael Houellebecq which describes a painting, which has Bill Gates and Steve Jobbs meet for an afternoon game of chess. The author treats this depiction of two visionaries as an allegory for the history of capitalism. In Curyło’s work Jobbs and Gates were placed in the middle of desert, where, just like Hirst and Koons, they appear in a form of modern saints equipped with their branded attributes.Incorporated were also the standard products of modernity — for instance the McDonald meal, which is an ironic treatment of consumption phenomena but also poses a question about modern form of spirituality. As Szymon Maliborski wrote on the occasion of Julia Curyło’s exhibition in Galeria Biała in Lublin: “Hence the desert, an immemorial place of mystical epiphanies appears in association with the aesthetics of mass production. Such combination and blending of traditions, the question about the devotionunderstood in a broader sense are the driving force behind many of Julia Curyło’s works”. 7
One could spend ages writing about each of Julia Curyło’s works. Their common denominator is precisely the modernity served in a light and humorous manner, accepted with all of its imperfections, with a smile and openness, as if the artist was welcoming it saying “Hello Modernity!”. Be it in a very universal dimension as is the case of LHC series and the search for the truth about where we come from, or in a more temporal way — as in Euroarabia where we will find references to the Femen movement, Oriana Fallacci and her criticism of Islam, the problems of coexistence and crossing cultures, global village and matters associated with feminism and questions about role and place of a woman in modern world. In all her works Curyło remains faithful to the symbolical realism, believing in strength and great sensuality of painting. The incredibly polished canvases to which she devotes long hours and physical work, represent a return to the essence of painting.

LHC, Genesis
 oil on canvas | 156×224 cm

LHC , Love
164×213 cm | 2011 | kolekcja prywatna

LHC, Cathedral
 oil on canvas | 204×153 cm |

Collision 11
oil on canvas 90 *120 cm

 God’s Particle (mandala 3)
                mixed technique (oil, gouache on canvas, glass, material, plastic, light) | 60×80 cm |

| God’s Particle (mandala 4)
    mixed technique (oil, gouache on canvas, glass, material, plastic, light) | 60×80 cm |


Danse Macabre
                            mixed technique (oil on canvas and small crystals) | 140×210 cm


                                                          oil on canvas | 120×200 cm

Jeff Koons & Damien Hirst divide the art market
oil on canvas | 140×210 cm

                                       Conversation between Steve Jobs and Bill Gates 
                                                        oil on canvas | 140×210 cm