Justyna Dawidowicz Pours Fragmented Landscapes Into Being


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Justyna Dawidowicz is a contemporary landscape artist based in Ottawa. Her latest series “Fragmented Landscapes” utilizes ink pouring, while drawing upon elements of her background in painting realism.

By Chris Penrose

The Artist’s Process 

Through her process, her paintings emerge as topographies and landscapes drawn from her sub-conscious. “When I’m in the studio, I’m not looking at photos. I don’t even have a plan of how the painting is going to turn out”, explains Justyna, “I’m very observant when I’m in nature”, she adds, “I look at all of the details and somehow it gets filtered out through my brain.”

This result is a series that explores, “the relationship between the land and the human, the tension between human efforts to tame and control nature and nature’s persistent regeneration to reclaim its territory.”

From her earliest years, Justyna spent a great deal of her life immersed in nature. As a child, she was surrounded by the lakes, rivers, mountains and forests of the south-east corner of Poland. During her high school and university years, she lived in Montreal and enjoyed the personality of the terrain in Quebec. In present day, She spends most of the year in Ottawa, but takes off to Vancouver Island for 4-6 weeks each summer with her family.

While her sensitivity and attention to the natural environment informs her work, it was her time in New York that birthed her current practice. Her husband was doing his post-doc at Columbia, and Justyna and their son joined him, looking at the opportunity to live in Brooklyn as an adventure.

Justyna used a previous experience working in art therapy with patients dealing with mental health issues, to land a position in New York working in the oncology department of a hospital where she developed and delivered art projects to patients and their families. A big part of her role was getting people to let go of the idea of the end product, and just enjoy the process. A sentiment that slowly began to filter into her work.

Finding Peace in the Bustle

In parallel, Justyna was finding the noise and busyness of New York to be overwhelming to her senses, stirring up feelings of anxiety. One evening while attending a Mom’s group at her son’s school,  there was a session on the art of ink pouring.

After that experience, Justyna bought more ink. Lots of ink. She brought it back to her studio in the Brooklyn Navy Yard and – slowly – a new phase in her practice began to take form. She found the pouring to be both a temporary antidote to the city’s invasion of her senses and the beginning of a new stage in her artistic process.

Looking back, she is aware of how much her work has evolved: “When I moved to Brooklyn, my work was quite different. I was doing portraits and some landscapes – it was a mixture of traditional and contemporary art.” What Justyna discovered when she added the pouring to her process was that the ink had a life of its’ own, and what she was honing in on was how to interact with that ‘life’ through her practice.

In terms of meaning, “Fragmented Landscapes” is an exploration of the relationship between idyllic and untouched environments and the nightmarish scale of the destruction that has come at the hands of human-kind. Yet, it is also the culmination of Justyna’s years of pursuing technical perfection funnelled into a level of artistic freedom that she has long been encouraging in others, and has now found for herself.

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