Edward Hopper / Tate Publishing

I have been captured by Edward Hopper ability to paint emotional scenes the moment I have seen his works and I have been held captive since.  "Most of Hopper's characters are so immersed in thought that they seem unaware of their surroundings. They are posed in dramatic scenes of distraction, absorbed in private thought and sober musing (...)". " His paintings do not refer to to specific places, but are "types" of places - projections of his imagination, his interior vision "; generic interiors. 

Contrary to this thecharacters in my paintings are not contained in any interiors,they are placed in moment in time.  

Radical lighting effects (like Rembrandt)

Xavier Mellery "The Stairway c.1889

Xavier Mellery "The Stairway c.1889

Stairway at 48 rue de Lille 1906

Stairway at 48 rue de Lille 1906


solitary figure

solitary vs loneliness

touchable loneliness

solitary in a group (in relationship)

Hopper's melancholic gaze

masterpieces of narrative understatement

Eduard Manet Bar at the Folies 1882

Eduard Manet Bar at the Folies 1882

Automat 1927

Automat 1927

It is often observed that Hopper painted many pictures of disaffected, inert couples - the motif should be seen as yet another aspect of both the ancient humour and the clinical pathology of Melancholia, which, as Freud put it, causes the "loss of the capacity of love".

In the classical understanding of Melancholia, this loss is the price paid for the solitary and inward life of the thinker.

Edward Hopper - unlike myself - was above all a painter of rooms - interior spaces within which one or two characters, naked or clothed, female or male, sit or stand (no interaction between them). In these rooms the window is most important feature. It lets the sunlight into the room but also casts dark shadows. it provides a view of outside world (the city, the countryside or close to the ocean)  - no outside world for me (because if there’s no inside there’s no outside).

There is something somehow uncanny about Hopper's paintings of rooms, whether they are private or public spaces. the characters seems isolated, and yet some kind of relationship is developing, positive, negative, or yet, undecided. 

 then there are interiors without characters


Break through at 45 with sold out watercolour exhibition

"Moda w getcie warszawskim" ("The fashion in Warsaw ghetto", online).

The most haunting material regarding fashion I have come across in my recent research was the interview with Polish academic and journalist Karolina Sulej who tries to shed more light on aspect of fashion in such extreme oppressive environments as Jewish ghettos in Poland during WWII. She is acknowledging that in the big wheel of history, women who still wanted to dress up nicely and smiled despite the horror that surrounded them are not being a space in collective memory and narrative. She’s searching for individual stories, unpublished photos that convey that image. In the newspaper printed in ghetto she found a column about fashion that starts with words : “Even if the war was to last 100 years, even if the world was turned upside down - nothing is going to change us, women, the better half of humanity”. The war was marginalized as unimportant period in the fashion history. The women resisted chaos and suffering through their “female frivolity”. Cultivating everyday rituals and looking after the presence helped to survive in hell. Sulej reclaims these female patterns of behaviour as important resilience and survival tool.

eea5126529809efeb65c3c11448ed9674812aec2 (1).jpeg

Women in ghetto, Kutno, 1940.

Photographer: Hugo Jaeger.

Karolina Sulej in her PhD takes the step further and researches garment right in the heart of horror - in the concentration camp in Auschwitz. She came across the journal of Auschwitz survivor Maria Jezierska titled “The fashion in Auschwitz”. This material was uncovered for 70 years, because no one dared to search for such phrase before. There are also other sources, as such diaries of Seweryna Szmaglewska, Janina Bauman, Alina Margolis , Mary Breg , where we can find memories related to fashion and the need to look beautiful against the odds. The main point of Sulej’s research is to give a space the voice of women from ghettos and concentration camps, their own voice not the official one, politically correct, condemning the horrors of war.

Fashion was important to women in these places. The survivors use actual word “fashion” in their memoires. The survivor profesor Anna Pawełczyńska said that together with her girlfriends in the concentration camp in Auschwitz they sat and looked at the smoke from the crematorium imaging that women just burned are going to heaven in beautiful and colorful dresses. We need to hear these voices, we need to hear these stories.