No 2 (94) 2013
April - June

„The Rite of Spring” According to Puzynowska

Róża Puzynowska-Roza has pursued a different aim than Katarzyna Kozyra who interpreter "The Rite of Spring" in her installation in 2002. Puzynowska has reached into forgotten tradition of an official portrait of an artist.

Janusz Miliszkiewicz

A journalist, feature writer. He specializes in art market, private collections and museums. He advocates the rebirth of portraits made to order tradition.

Janusz Miliszkiewicz

SHE HAS PAINTED A SERIES OF OIL PORTRAITS depicting the Warsaw Great Theater Polish National Ballet artists who dance in "The Rite of Spring" by Igor Stravinsky in the reconstructed choreography by Wacław Niżyński. On May 29th 1913 the Paris Theatre des Champs-Elysees presented a premiere of "The Right of Spring" choreographed by Niżyński. This date has been considered the beginning of modern music and a breakthrough of the ballet art. On the one hundredth anniversary of the event the capital Great Theater is to present the dancers' portraits painted by Puzynowska.

This has been a private initiative of the painter. Puzynowska has painted fourteen full silhouette portraits in glaze technique (210x95 cm or 210x187cm).Out of these, eleven are polymorphous figures, showing the same dancer in different movement stages. An attempt at art synthesis, like a portrait, has been an ever present challenge for a painter. Puzynowska has painted dancing and music. In the poster for the "Wozzeck" opera by Berg, Jan Lenica has portrayed music by means of repetitive lines. In 1962 Jan Tomaszewski brilliantly showed music with lines on the poster for the 17th Chopin Festival in Duszniki Zdrój. It is worth comparing how Janina Kraupe has painted music.

The ballet subtitle is "Pictures from Pagan Russia". It describes barbaric rituals where the spring coming used to be celebrated with offering of a human life sacrifice. The music by Stravinsky does not contain classic dance elements, instead he has focused on rhythm. A cruel scene where a Chosen Girl loses her life, accompanied by wild rhythm, caused a scandal. The alternating palette of the portraits - intensifying and fading - organizes the rhythm. Further, the pictures render the rhythm by means of repetitive long braids of the dancers, their outstretched arms, tapes entwined around their legs.

First the artist has watched a number of Times "The Rite of Spring" performance and recordings. Then she has selected the most dramatic scenes. She held several meetings with the dancers and tried to get close to them. She requested them to take off their costumes and to perform the selected scenes nearly nude, with only some make-up accessories on. She was taking photographs. In short, this was an initial stage to paint the portraits.

I have asked what is a good portrait like? - Nakedness helps! A stronger link is being tied between myself and my model. The model gets less isolated, leaving his safety zone. He turns defenseless. It is easier for me to get deeper inside his inner self. It is more difficult for him to pretend (to take up a role of someone else), and more difficult for me to win his trust. Posing for a portrait is about pure rendition. When I look at a naked model, this is as though I were looking at a black square against a white background. I have an impression that he is unique. What is a good portrait like? This is a good picture that leaves a long lasting mark in a viewer - the artist explains.

Magdalena Ciechowicz, the Polish National Ballet first solo dancer - who had a part of the Chosen One in "The Rite of Spring" - earlier cooperated with Katarzyna Kozyra during the work on "The Rite of Spring" video installation and the "Twarze/ Faces" project. Adam Kozak, a solo dancer playing one of the Young: "Róża has created an impression of movement in this picture. There is life in my eyes, and she shows my soul. A dancer's career is very short. At least this picture will stay after I am gone, since ars longa, vita brevis.

Róża Puzynowska-Roza, "The Rite of Spring", the Theater Museum, Warsaw, May - June 2013.