Self Portrait (Beheaded)

2015
Grogged stoneware clay, Glazed ceramic
32.4 x 20.5 x 16 cm

Paulina Michnowska’s work is often imbued with comically dry undertones and droll satire. Self Portrait (Beheaded) is a work made in response to a recent trip that the artist made to the Cathedral de Seville in Spain. On this visit Michnowska saw a sculpture depicting the decapitated head of St. John the Baptist. According to the symbolic gospels, Herod who was governor of Galilee under the Roman Empire, had imprisoned John the Baptist because he reproved Herod for divorcing his wife (Phasaelis) and unlawfully taking Hernias, the wife of his brother Herod Phillip I. On Herod’s birthday, Herodias’ daughter danced before the King and his guests. Her dancing pleased Herod so much that in his drunkeness he promised to give her anything she desired, up to half of his kingdom. When the daughter asked her mother what she should request, she was told to ask for the head of John the Baptist on a platter. Although Herod was appalled by the request, he reluctantly agreed and had John executed in the prison. Michnowska has recreated this work using herself as the subject of the beheading, replicating certain aspects of the composition and its visual imagery.

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About The Artist

Paulina Michnowska employs a range of media that includes film, painting, ceramics and collage work. Her primary interest lies in the process itself, where she can physically explore different materials and their singular characteristics. Using an assortment of collected imagery from books, photographs, newspaper cuttings and ancient sculptural artefacts, she selects, edits, and melds the materials into a language of her own. There is an anarchic, rebellious visual energy that surges violently between grotesque and the delicate. Her recent works are perhaps a reaction against the beginnings of her artistic training at Plastyk Academy (Poland), where in the town of Kielce she worked three days a week for five years, painstakingly copying old master paintings in meticulous detail.

Paulina Michnowska

Born: 1984

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