Beata Zuba. Permeating Mountains

12.08.2023 - 22.10.2023

Opening: 11.08.2023, 18.00

Curators: Anna Król, Beata Zuba Exhibition design: Anna Król
Mountains are indeed sculptures in space, in the landscape, naturally shaped, and this is probably why it is so difficult to paint them, to transpose them onto the flat surface of a canvas and create a pictorial illusion of them. The challenge has continued to be taken up since always, as long back as art has existed, in both Western and Far Eastern traditions. In European art, mountains were initially a compositional element, serving as distant misty backgrounds for early modern portraits and genre scenes. It was not until the Romantic era that they were freed of these duties, and became an autonomous subject in art, saturated with meanings. Beautiful, menacing, mysterious and monumental, they came to occupy a unique position, becoming a space of spiritual exaltation and contemplation, and also a forum for disputes with the world and with God, while serving as a symbol of freedom, a sign of forfeited independence. 

The large-format works of Beata Zuba shown in the exhibition Permeating Mountains at the Europe–Far East Gallery tend to focus our attention, our gaze on a fragment of high mountain ranges. Painted, or actually sculpted in paint, the rocky massifs seem to burst the canvas. Cobalt blue, grey, asphalt black, or glistening white, they appear to be compulsive notes, as in Wróblewski’s case, not so much of the routes she has traversed in the mountains as of impressions, emotions, and fears experienced by the artist who has painted them. She seems to be painting the same mountain over and over again, abstracted from the space around her. She models various versions of it in terms of light and colours, using an almost stenographic method to attain the desired forms and shapes, their essence.

Even though Zuba often asserts that she is not painting a specific peak but only the generic Mountain, we almost automatically retrieve familiar massifs from our personal memory. The mythical Eiger, Niesen and Breithorn come up to our eyelids – the same summits whose evocative visions can be found in the works of the Swiss painter Ferdinand Hodler (1853–1918), ‘sculptural’ and expressive. They seem an apt visual context for the painter from Kraków, next to the recently discovered, previously unknown small alpine landscapes by Élisabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun (1755–1842), especially those depicting solitary massifs. There is a similar power and visual determination in them. Beata Zuba’s paintings are dominated by the sign of the Mountain, the Mountain that becomes the axis mundi.


A native Cracovian, she graduated from the Faculty of Painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków, receiving her university diploma from the studio of Professors Leszek Misiak and Teresa Kotkowska-Rzepecka, and her diploma supplement from Professor Zbigniew Bajek’s 1st Interdisciplinary Studio. She has also completed a course of study at the Teachers College, writing her thesis on art therapy: ‘Interpreting ourselves through colour’.  

Beata Zuba is involved in painting, drawing, and photography. An active member of the Association of Polish Artists and Designers (ZPAP), Kraków Chapter and the Psychiatry and Art Association, she received a grant ‘For the Promotion of Polish Culture in the World’ from the Adam Mickiewicz Institute and a scholarship from the Nishieda Foundation in 2021. In 2023, she was granted a stipend by the Minister of Culture and National Heritage. She has been shortlisted for the Eibisch Prize and in the Zakopane Municipal Art Gallery’s painting competition ‘My Zakopane’. An avid art educator, she has prepared a series of lectures entitled What Does a Painter See Beyond the Picture? for the Villa Decius Institute of Culture and held painting workshops for the Villa Decius Association, in addition to guided tours of museums for the attendees, for which she has been nominated for the Personality of the Year award by the local newspapers Gazeta Krakowska and Dziennik Polski

She has had 17 solo shows and participated in a number of group exhibitions at home and abroad (notably: Krka Gallery, Ljubljana, Slovenia; MGS Częstochowa; Galeria CENTRUM NCK and Palace of Art, Kraków; CSW Elektrownia, Radom; Pomeranian Dukes’ Castle Gallery, Szczecin). In 2021, after being invited to Japan by the Nishieda Foundation, she showed her works in the exhibition Mountain: Wonder and Fear at the Zuiun-an gallery in Kyoto and at the Tatsuno Art Scene festival. The artist has presented her projects at international conferences, both in Poland (e.g. Museum of Modern Art MOCAK in Kraków) and abroad (International Congress of Art Therapy in Toulouse).

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