The Homo Viator notion in the literal translation from Latin means the man - a pilgrim, a passenger, a wanderer. In the Middle Ages this figure also symbolized a human fate, whereas groups of pilgrims always headed for the Holy Land in order to experience the sacred, to be absolved of sins, to cope with the fear of damnation.
In Gabriel Marcel's philosophy homo viator is a wanderer travelling into the depth of their own ego, seeking freedom and truth, the sense of existence and love. It always happens that the personal - not to say - intimate experience is open towards "someone else and felt by someone else", whereas it is authenticity which is the measure of valuable experience. In Joanna's images the Wanderer mentioned above is a slender figure usually dressed in graphite black clothes, looking ahead, straightened. There is often a black suitcase nearby - the artist's favourite object - stage prop. The man that stands turned back to the viewer and stares at the city of many towers piling up in front of him and above him, sometimes at a Gothic castle, a maze or a chessboard.
Sometimes a simultaneously graphically charming motive is a dice, a snail growing enormous or simply an empty room. What is strange here is the fact that, despite the mysterious figure is a unique trademark of the artist identifying the majority of works and confirming their identity, nobody has paid attention to him so far. After all it is a crucial figure. Isn't it the author's alter ego? We might consider to what extent it is created consciously, and to what extent intuitively... Indeed I happened to ask the artist to what extent drawings or graphics are "designed" in advance, to what extent they spontaneously "flow" in ink on paper. I have not got a definite reply up till now.
Joanna loves travelling. It takes hours to listen to the "secrets" of her journeys and enthusiastic remarks concerning the architecture, paintings, smells of Spain, Italy or Greece. The images created during or after her travels are frames - reminiscences "from the road".
She notices and contemplates things surrounding her. She is conscious of their beauty, she can see their relationships with people, she emphasizes their symbolic functions locating them in a little bit mysterious contexts suggesting dreams. The mood of uniqueness is reinforced by surprising combinations of things deprived of their everyday context and frames with the disturbed perspective. The motive of a journey so characteristic of all this creation achieves full materiality in the so called poetic objects e.g. suitcases filled with "transient objects" such as houses, books, bird cages made by the artist. As well as the figures of Navigators - Travellers dressed in black, with (certainly) black tiny suitcases standing beside them.
This microcosmic world of portable things is tremendously moving and deeply lyric. Taken out from the depths of the subconscious, it reveals the Freudian need for having an alternative world, it is an evidence for the escape perhaps into...a New Journey? "I am a separate state" - Witold Gombrowicz said emphasizing his personal, intellectual autonomy. Joanna's entire artistic work - fine arts, drama, poetry - proves that she is fully integrated. She creates artistic objects which have great power of expression and what is more which are fully autonomous and ambiguous, inviting us to take part in the neverending journey.
Looking at Joanna Domańska's works for the first time we are amazed by her exceptionally careful way of drawing. The elaborate precision of shapes, woven like weaver's thread, determines their extraordinary character. At the same time colour, precisely selected gradations of blues and greys, plays a significant role. It helps build images of rare expression referring to our memory and imagination. Colour and drawing, applied subtly and clearly, make brilliant compositions whose apparent simplicity hides an intriguing study of empty spaces, objects, rhytms and books. This marvellous plastic rigour and order is present in her latest works which can be contemplated at the exhibition Alchemy of Journey.
The recurring and deeply moving images make Joanna Wiszniewska-Domańska be a creative heiress of the most interesting trends of surrealistic poetics and metaphysics. This approach attracted attention of Eugenio Granell Foundation which is concerned with presenting the important strategies of surrealism as well as the significant artistic creations included by this trend. It enables us to admire for the first time in our country the works of this exceptional artist. We have already written about this precise iconography referring to the heritage of surrealism and about the fact that Joanna Domańska created her own language of visual expression. The images show figures with their backs turned on us, forms of enlarged shapes, suitcases, trunks and cages, mazes and flying fish, existing next to one another for no apparent reason, in the abandoned space dominated by huge clouds. There is no doubt that, by means of these elements, the Polish artist creates her own personal world of drawings, graphics and artistic books.
All these components form the same scene which has no recognizable narrative plot, and simultaneously they are connected by the permanent element of their presence, and most of all, by their common intriguing spirit. No wonder that those who admire Joanna Wiszniewska-Domańska's works emphasise their metaphorical character and their unusual poetics. The first "reading" of her works evokes the feeling of explicit difference.
The review of the exhibition in Eugenio Granell Museum and Foundation printed in Spanish artistic magazine "El Punto de las Artes" 8-14. 04. 2000 (p. 23).