Ewa Bloch 



February 20 – April 11, 2015

opening reception: Friday, February 20, 6-8 pm




Artist/Educator Ewa Bloch’s Oil Drenched Landscapes Investigate the American Dream

In an instant, find yourself swallowed whole by an infinite pool of viscous black ink.

Reflecting on a 30 year journey, Bloch’s observations as an artist, Polish-born American, and woman, are delivered unapologetically in her upcoming multi-media installation, Vanity.

Running from February 20 – April 11, 2015, Ewa Bloch’s Vanity premiers recent works which tell the stories of ambiguous, yet conventional characters. Immersive environments, ranging from 64” x 64” to a 108” x 48” tryptic, offer a depiction of city life that is equal parts reflexive as it is outwardly focused. Bloch’s world-scapes present a dreamlike cloud, which according to the artist, represents our innermost thoughts. Though pitch black, the dark puddles and veiny splotches are meant to be read neutrally. These unintentional Rorschach-like blots serve as representations of the mind’s eye. On the other hand, posed atop towering canvases small male and female figures stand out, intended to represent our physical self.

It is in this gesture that the artist offers her first question: How are the landscapes that we paint in our mind constructed? Are they controlled? Premeditated? Or are they built out of chance? Vanity takes as its entry point this central question, while simultaneously asserting that these ink blotches have been meticulously laid down by the artist’s hand. This question, though, about control, submission and choice, is borne out of an interest in provocation and exploring societal norms.

Clothed characters seemingly capitulate beneath sea-like clouds: in organic shapes which Bloch has carefully and intentionally plotted. Here, barefoot characters are not shoeless, but suggest a carefree attempt to go against the grain. Shoes on the other hand constrain modern-day geishas evoking concerns of beauty, confidence and success. Distrust towards media’s portrayal of the “American dream” inspires much of Bloch’s work, not only in the studio, but in the classroom as well.

Working with students on Chicago’s far south and west sides, Bloch encourages teenagers to think more deeply about how they see themselves. She calls into question the impact of advertising and fashion, asking the youth to reflect on their decisions.

“I’m looking at these girls and think ‘I can use this class to help these young women empower themselves’. But then, they leave the classroom and return to the outside world of contradictions: the idealized lifestyles and “American idols” they are surrounded by every day.” -Ewa Bloch

Yet, Bloch offers optimism in the glamorous yellow and pink backdrops. If the black space serves as a symbol of our thoughts, then it is, in effect, within our control to shape the ink’s contours. While the Vanity series is drawn out of Bloch’s personal experiences, the exhibition as a whole offers a conversation that is timely, relevant and all-inclusive. While still-images chronicle the artist’s early ambitions to achieve the “American Dream”, the works on display articulate a far more universal experience.


Written by Jess Kaswiner


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