"When I start a painting, I
can't tell you what it will be like in the end," says Chicago-born artist
Roswita Szyszka. For years a commercial artist in
her native city, she turned to fine art after she moved with her husband and
two boys to the vicinity of Woodstock, New York, in 1986.
The most distinctive feature
of Szyszka's art is a mirrorlike dualism in which a figure, usually with closed
eyes, appears in the same pose twice in the same canvas, or a man and woman
form two halves of a whole. Around and over them swirls a complex, prismlike
webbing of shaded lines - "linear extensions," as the artist calls them, of
forms in the background. These lines, she says, "make the figures one with the
entire cosmos of the painting." The mingling of realistic and abstract elements
is another kind of dualism present in Szyszka's work - one that reflects her
love of both figurative and abstract art.
Psychologists could have a
field day with Szyszka's imagery. Jungians might see the interplay between
persona and ego (and sometimes the shadow), and the coming together of various
kinds of opposites. Yet, although the artists calls her painting "therapy
without a psychiatrist," and acknowledges that her work expresses different
aspects of herself, her distinctive imagery had quite a practical origin. Bored
to distraction in a class in which the model maintained the same pose in
repeated sessions, Szyszka decided to see what would happen if she flipped her
canvas upside down and painted an almost mirror image.
What happened was she found
herself as an artist. Turning her canvas opened up a whole new world. She has
discovered that background objects, no longer recognizable, become intriguing
abstractions whose lines, when carried on through the painting, take on a life
of their own. With layers of thin paint, she adds subtle gradations, creating
an effect reminiscent of stained glass - a technique that imparts both depth
Creating one of these
paintings is a highly intuitive process that puts Szyszka in tune with her
inner reality and that of her models - and draws the viewer into his own
interior world as well.