Elle peignait ses cheveux noirs (Katarzyna S.) , 100 x 140 x 3 acrylic on linen [Poznań-Skoki 2021]

“Et pendant un long jour assise à son miroir
Elle peignait ses cheveux d’or Je croyais voir
Ses patientes mains calmer un incendie…”

(Louis Aragon, Elsa au miroir)

The portrait of Kasia S. combing her black curls has a rather inconspicuous title: Elle peignait ses cheveux noirs, which means “She combed her black hair”. A connoisseur of Louis Aragon’s poetry may be able to spot a transformed line from one of the many lyric poems the French poet dedicated to his wife and muse, Elsa. However, the choice of such a title was mainly determined by the word homonymy and ambiguity hidden in it. The simple sentence in the title can also be translated as “She painted her black hair”. A philological curiosity which will perhaps hold the viewer’s attention for a while…

One more glance at the painting and the nagging question will return and remain unanswered: What is Katarzyna thinking about when combing her curls? Just about curls?