Retrospective SHOW I
"In her painting..."

 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 '70s 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, and 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 is saturated with Pan-biological elements, symbolic and sensual at the same time. As in ancient mythology, half human, half divine creatures populate this world, and they have strong links with structured still life or studies of real life objects. They areimages 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.

Kinga Kawalerowicz
Retrospective SHOW I, Gallery of Critics, Warsaw, 1984

Retrospective Show III

"In the beginning were women.
They were powerful, imperious and mad.
They were vital, sensual, inspired. They were devilish female angels.
They were like the Mantis seducing males with physical beauty.
They dominated men and nature, negligent of their surroundings, negligent of every one and everything except carnal love, the only value that life offered them.  The women from Maria Sochaniewicz's paintings, Victoria, Azteca, Nefretete, Primavera, heroines in many embodiments, have yielded to a force they initially underestimated. They have been defeated by time which has slowly, imperceptibly transformed their monumental figures into frail shapes. Deprived of their main asset, their breathtaking bodies, they have lost absolute primacy in the world. At their creators instance, they have been forced to accept an inferior position, among men, plants and animals. Degraded to a rank of barely discernible, nonchalant traces of the brush, they have merged with the surrounding matter and their partners, and have hidden behind screens painted up with serpents.  What has remained in the foreground is nature, as rapacious, disturbing, sensual and at the same time severe and unyielding as once the women.  For four years now, Maria Sochaniewicz's canvases an drawings have been filled with reptiles, fish and leaves. Despite their well-defined forms, they are intriguingly sensual and mysterious. Though almost free of stylization, they seem synthetic as well as decorative.  And yet, their natural shapes are as straight forward as their painted transposition.The disturbing, vibrating bodies of the fish and serpents, and almost animal like plants correspond in a strange way to the anthropomorphic silhouettes in Sochaniewicz's other works executed at the same time...  Maria evidently avoids producing uniform images. She oscillates between subtlety, expression and decorativeness, almost bordering on kitsch. She surprise the viewer with the material used for the groundwork of her paintings; at times, she is tired of two dimensions, and arranges a chosen area in the house or at the gallery by means of additional elements. She makes experiments with various materials, combining paint with fabric, brocade with mirrors.  All these qualities, and especially her consistent attraction to figuration, resulting from energetic strokes of the brush, and up to an easily definable style, Maria's oeuvre fits in with the Neue Wilde Malerei, so popular for the last few years. But, Maria started to paint like this many years ago. So, wouldn't it be more justified to call her a harbinger of expressive figuration?

 Fortunately, Sochaniewicz claims no titles, makes light of nominal questions and simply paints what she finds emotionally fascinating, evidently concerned with the ambiguity of apparently unequivocal forms.

Monika Malkowska
Retrospective Show III, November, 1987

Retrospective SHOW I
Majka Sochaniewicz. I like her painting..."

 " Majka Sochaniewicz. I like her painting and this is the reason why I am writing this introduction to her catalog. In fact I should have married her long ago, but now we are both past such nonsense - she paints, I write introductions.

 Delicate Mary and her cycle of hard solid pictures. The variety of women she paints. This lack of consistency is only superficial, in fact there is a very feminine consistency underlying all her painting. An original, overdrawn style bordering on the primitive and caricature. And what seems obvious to me is her conscious departure from the primitive, although at first reading we detect here a strong affinity to glass painting.

  Of major importance here is the background. The artist does not use a normal perspective, her perspective is imposed by certain hierarchies, some imperative values. And the foreground, those overdrawn pictures of women, seem to be a series of self - portraits. The same person created ever a new by her environment, shown a various cultural contexts.

 The excellent brothel scenes. For it is the environment that forms women - and not only those from the canvasses of Majka..."

Andrzej Pastuszek
Introduction for catalog for exhibition in Nowy Swiat Gallery
Warsaw, 1980 (excerpt)




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Anthology: Work on Paper, Mixed Media