After I’ve finished my work on the first part of “Anastasia”, comic book written by Magdalena Lankosz, my head was still filled up with pictures of Old Hollywood. All the glamour, youth, beauty but also solitude, sadness was still there – waiting to be painted on canvas.
“L.A.Woman” exhibition, curated by Janina Górka-Czarnecka and Dominika Czarnecka at the Gallery of Art Artemis in Cracow presents a choice of paintings inspired by Golden Era of Hollywood and vibrant light of Los Angeles.
The exhibition was accompanied by a catalogue with a preface written by Magdalena Lankosz, who lived in Los Angeles and worked for many years as a reporter specialised in a film industry:
The adventure in Los Angeles began with a search for History with capital H. After all, every place must be marked by History. The continuity would give me, a reporter from Europe, a feeling of peace. But I found no History in this city that existed a mere 150 years. Instead of that, I was attacked from beneath every stone, from behind every doorway with millions of stories – histories with small h. Who did not with whom, how and where. Gossip, legend, elliptical statement, the police chronicle and the indescreet society column in the City of Angels have taken on the taste and importance of a chronicle, testimony and story of the greatest import.
At the beginning of the last century, it was all restless spirits – gold seekers, thieves and dreamers – who flocked to California. All of those who chafed at the corset of norms and principles. They came to reinvent themselves and they invented something that captured the hearts of people all over the planet. In a decade, they built the film industry and made it the fifth-largest sector in the American economy. The only one that was not affected by the Great Depression. It turned out that the pursuit of invention is an instinct stronger than fear of the world coming to an end.
In Los Angeles, nothing is completely real, but neither is it totaly unreal. This city is a potential existence waiting to be filled in with a story. Self creation has been made into an art form there. Inventing oneself has become the highest form of existence. The Old Continent voted “post truth” as the word of the year for 2016. The City of Angels has built its foundations from little bricks of post-truth.
It was a fascination with the fact that in Hollywood, the borders are blurred between fiction and reality not only on the screen, and every life there is only a potential story, that gave birth to a comic strip entitled Anastasia, the script to which I wrote for Joanna Karpowicz. In it, we tell the story of a girl who comes to LA in the times when Hollywood is at its most powerfull and dark. The great screen stars, treated by audiences as deities walking about the Earth, are blank sheets of paper for producers to cover with writing and use at will.
We were fascinated with a world in which CVs are invented over a glass of wine, and marriages are contracted to promote a film. We sought the tracks of those whom the city’s vampire had devoured, and those whom it gave eternal life. We looked through hundreds of photos. And it did not cease to fascinate us what is hidden behind the smiles of the people they present. Perhaps the most overwhelming loneliness in the world, about which Jim Morisson sang in “LA Woman”.
In her pictures, Joanna Karpowicz utilizes the narrative potential of the City of Angels. She looks beneath the top layer of the story to get at the one that emerges from beneath of it. She captures the ordinary extraordinainess of Los Angeles, its charm, its paradoxes. Does she arrive at the truth about this place? She arrives at something more important. To an awareness that in this strange place, truth is of no significance. What counts is a good story. Each of Joanna’s pictures is a good story. She and the City of Angels are made for each other.