In her painting Maja Sochaniewicz focuses on specific subjects. The first well defined series called "Victory" was composed of powerful, sort of archaic female figures, remote sisters of Nolde's characters, Gauguin's beauties or Matisse's models.

  The end of 70's brought series with groups of figures, scenes from whorehouses, "dancers and ballerinas", "punks". The situation presented on canvas acquired more descriptive precision and a higher dose of realism without losing momentum, solid fracture treatment, vivid colors, so typical for Maja Sochaniewicz's painting.

 Even though it never became a fact, the artist feared falling into realism and portraying life, which was against the real spirit of her painting. She desired more freedom and fun in "smearing paints", as she herself calls it. Therefore, she gave up painting interiors with figures and changed subjects, but not the atmosphere of her artwork, always full of universal symbolism. It implied experiments in painting techniques: painting in metal foil and large sheets of cardboard, combining ink acrylic paints and decorative varnish. recently Maja Sochaniewicz has also applied shiny brocades and powdered pigments, which create the effect of velvet surfaces.

 The painting presented in this exhibition are saturated with Pan-biological elements, symbolic and sensual at the same time. As in ancient mythology, half human, half divine creatures p[populate this world, and they have strong links with structured still life or studies of real life objects. They are images completely deprived of unnecessary external similarity.

  "Angels", a motif recently favored by the artist, are more like winged demons, carnal and subject to emotions, closer to Assyrian myths to Christianity. Her recent works strike with variety of matter end color combined with synthetic form, with a desire to find a sign, a pictogram. The easily perfectible uncompromising attitude of those austere composition, created by restless wide movements of her brush are softened by subtlety and the choice of color. Compared to her earlier works, with their contrasts, sharp, even harsh at times, the art of Maja Sochaniewicz tends to nuances, enriched by silver and gold tones.

 Looking at her paintings, we have a feeling of facing universal order, primary and primitive in its nature, pagan in a way, where the same spiritual element exist in a plant, an animal and a human being, and the half divine element is equally hard to extract from the human nature as it is hard to draw a line between what is part of humans, plants and animals. Therefore, the photographs Maja Sochaniewicz included in this catalog cannot be viewed just as a poetic joke, but also as camouflaged sort of artistic credo.

  In 1979 I wrote about the art of Maria Sochaniewicz - "Her artistic temperament has clearly expressionist features. The psychological atmosphere of violent and hot emotions hardens in wide movements of her brush, in the sharp contrasts of 'barbarian colors'. In her art nothing is feminine, sweet, delicate, tasteful. She is attracted by the kitsch of a small town market combined with barbarian abundance and dark atmosphere of passion, derived from Flaubert's 'Salambo'. The line of her drawings is harsh, artistic matter is dense, brush movements of varied fractural treatment are well defined up to the limits of brutality" - that is I wrote about Maja Sochaniewicz in 1987.

 Years later we saw each other in her Brooklyn apartment, which she also used as a studio. I had already seen her works from the past few years in the USA. What is a continuation of what she used to do in Warsaw, and what is new in her art?

 She started from well defined figuration, interior scenes with female figures. Than plants and animal turned to be the main subject. The following stylistic changes consequently resulted from earlier periods. It is also the case now. The artist almost give up realistic painting in favor of abstract compositions, with noticeable fascination, also present in her earlier works, with the world of plants and animals as their basis.

 In the mid - 80's Maja Sochaniewicz created her own beastly world, teasing the viewers imagination: magic snakes, exotic fish, cats with refined movements. She also liked to paint tropical rapacious flowers, demonic angels, mysterious shapes of pyramids. A snake, one of her favorite motifs , has now become a silver and gold winding strand and fish have become glittering strips. At one of her exhibitions she presented a painting that brings about associations with some indefinite primitive forms of biological life. Compared to her earlier works, you can observe less rigid structure of forms , which now create rich matter, visually 'leaking' out of the frame. This way painting become an image of a larger part of symbolic universe. In earlier times, looking at Maja Sochaniewicz's paintings you had a feeling of facing universal order, pagan in its nature, where the same spiritual element is present in a plant, an animal and human being. This universal unity is now expressed by the unifying, pulsating matter of her paintings.

  Her artistic temperament has always had clear expressionist values. She has been attracted by its uncompromising ideas of composition and pure strong colors: the momentum of artistic gesture. She may be called the pioneer of 'Neue Wilde' trend in Poland.

 Neo - expressionism, visible in the monumental female figures from the series called "Victory", which began her artistic career, was fully developed during in times of her contact with West Berlin, where at the beginning of the 80's she started to present her works. She came to the United States as an artist with clear vision of her art and fashionable art (I mean basically the galleries in SOHO that impose specific models) inspires herby its unique variety of shapes and colors, ugliness and beauty, like New York itself. In a new environment, however, I still see her as a distant sister of pagan fairies with a touch of Witkacy's demons. She still makes strange paint mixtures: she mixed varnish with ink and acrylic paints, she puts color pigments and shiny brocades on metal foils. This kind of experiments, so popular in the United States, where there are no taboos as to techniques, in Poland have always unusual. Perhaps the fact that Maja Sochaniewicz began to express herself by using forms close to abstraction, not quite defined, is a result of her reaction to the Œcomplexity of reality¹ that surrounds her in New York. Her recent experiments aim at abstract forms that are in constant movement. The reappearing motif of a school of fish in moving water has a symbolic meaning.

  In the interview the artist emphasized that to her it is extremely important to portray in her art the aura of mystery and understatement. Therefore, she is mesmerized by silent and impenetrable lives of fish and snakes. For the same reason she is fascinated by the shape of pyramid. She does not accepted in her art what is straight and obvious, mechanical or logical. Painting is an element like the ocean, which she loves to observe. The Painting of Maria Sochaniewicz is constantly saturated with Pan-biologism an sensuality.

Kinga Kawalerowicz
Nowy Dziennik Polish Publishing, (excerpt), 1990



Solo Exhibitions

Group Exhibitions



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Private Collections

Anthology: Work on Paper, Mixed Media