Scratching the Surface -Marzena Jagiello’s Paintings

Yamim Noraim

Marzena Jagiello Yamim Noraim

Cracow based painter Marzena Jagiello has painted for over twenty years, forging her way through the shackles of martial law, enduring the entrenched sexism of the art world all the while making collages of paint, paper and pencil that maintain a deeply personal view of the world, translating into a distinctively purist surface. It is this resilience and determination that allows such unapologetically beautiful work.

That Marzena is not at the beginning of her practice is abundantly clear. There is a looseness that only comes with self-assurance and practice. Marzena has a way with abstraction, her brushwork, gestural drips and crooked inscriptions form a constellation of nothingness and iconic marks, a lattice of deeply subjective meaning, a place of secret writing, laid open and bare on paper, canvas and old newsprint.

Yamim Noraim is drawn in oil pastel, acrylic, and oil paint; bearing also marks of brushes and stains. Marzena notes the work was “Inspired by a man in prayer, wrapped in his tallis with a shofar…days of anguish, days of repentance, terrible days…Made up of transparent layers, and the artist reveals that of all her work –this was the longest project so far.She had finished the painting, but unsatisfied turned it the wall, when suddenly she felt ready to finalize the piece, adding a last touch in two days.

When asked how it is to be a woman artist in present day Poland, Marzena remarks she has refused a dichotomy that she sees as false, useless even. She remembers, “throughout the years my studio was in the house, next to the kitchen. When I would bring my children to school, I would wonder how to construct the composition of the painting waiting in the studio.”Women artists have remarked to me that they often feel a kind of pressure to assure a separation of art or creativity from the role of motherhood, as if life-giving and care is some sort of liminal activity. The irony is not lost on any of us…

Reconciliation, a refusal and breaking of such hierarchies, may render your mosaic into pieces, and alienate you from those who hold the reins of “taste” and status…

But perhaps the reconstruction will be magnificent…





Marzena begins with the search of an interesting surface, whether it is canvas, or perhaps discarded fabric, cardboard, paper or newspaper. The artist tells me that her work is informed by a search for something she describes as “real truth.”

A calligraphic brushwork creates passages of pigment, exposed canvas, or paper, all re-traced or written over by gestural marks. This resplendent surface serves as a deeply personal meditation on the making of art, identity, and religious curiosity. The delicacy and complexity of this layering reflects Marzena’s training in weaving, a knitted togetherness of signs that represent a world of spiritual contemplation and meaning.


Drzewo oliwne-katalog

Olive Tree

Planned or unplanned all of the works have a chaotic but beautifully parsed out chaos. The painting Olive Tree has an immediacy that reflects the moment in which it was made. In our discussion, Marzena shares that the process was an intuitive one. She had to rush to complete the work before window on this visionary period closed.



Marzena Jagiello cloth painting.jpg

Learn more about the artist @ behance, Sztuko Branie, Krakow + BWA Kielce



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