Ariel Mlynarzewicz (1964 - )

Autoretrato polaco (1985)
Polish self-portrait

Etching and aquatint on paper
height: 56cm
width: 38cm

Donated by Ariel Mlynarzewicz 1996


Portraits and self-portraits are common in the different graphic and pictorial techniques used by Ariel Mlynarzewicz. He represents himself, his family and his mentors in his art. The self-portrait could be one of Mlynarzewicz’s “expressive obsessions” as Raúl Santana refers to them. According to this critic, the artist’s style, which has strong expressionist roots, reinforces an “authentic assault on anatomy” which results in “powerful subjectifications”. The Polish self-portrait is a clear example of this dynamic where the image tends towards disintegration.

The different elements that make up the face in the self-portrait look superimposed; it is a multifaceted face. Perception is superimposed on the reality from which it departs, the reality of corporeality. As a result, the symbolic comes before representation and fluidity comes before stillness.

Mlynarzewicz is the grandchild of Polish Jews who immigrated to Argentina seeking a more pleasant destiny. Ariel refused to change his surname to an artistic name that would be easier to pronounce in Spanish, a gesture which assumes and holds on to his roots. In this sense, the artist represents many Argentines of his generation and their situation, those whose parents, grandparents or great-grandparents were immigrants. This generation carries with it the history of a reconstructed identity, of an adopted country, and of a powerful story of what they left behind in their countries of origin; a story which is often silenced. The choice of the the gentilic adjective Polish that accompanies the noun self-portrait in the title demonstrates that that nationality continues to form part of a familial emotional DNA.

Text by Dulce María Dalbosco

Translated by Max Turner and Sebastian Bustamante-Brauning

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