Back when she lived in her native Krakow, Dominika Berger had a recurring dream: in the morning, she would wake up and get ready to start the day, but she couldn’t open her eyes. “It was disturbing, she says, but not too distressing”. After graduating in Fine Arts, she settled in Barcelona to pursue a doctorate on face and identity. The dream seemed to have disappeared. She left all her painting tools and everything she had painted so far in Krakow: “I think it’s very healthy to start over like this after finishing one’s studies”. However, when he began to paint in Barcelona, large faces appeared – her own one – with her eyes closed. The drawn face, by dint of having been reworked and punished, becomes a nearly abstract work. The sealed eyelids block the entrance to a universe from which, however, one can perceive the tensions, the uneasiness, the nostalgia or the strange balance that the observer wants to find there.

This intersection between figurative and abstract painting is one of the most emphasized characteristics of Dominika Berger’s painting. Even she herself assures that she enjoys this intermediate position: “The starting point is drawing, a very large and classical drawing. I dedicate many hours to drawing, and then comes a real struggle in which I work on the canvas and come back to it many times, I add paint, I remove it, I injure the painting.” Often, she believes that she has lost the work forever and she despairs: “From that sadness, which is anger and needs to be truthful, the best is born, the good work, the one I like afterwards”.

From her years of education in Krakow she is grateful for the discipline and the hours dedicated to the technique of drawing. She assures that all of that contributes to her experience and grounding, as well as the climate and the character of the people of a country, Poland, which he considers “quite dense and grim: people become depressed, with a painful awareness that they have to live; but they also read more and talk more”. However, she now enjoys the light in her art studio near the Plaça d’Espanya. After applying “to all the painting contests in Catalonia that she knew of”, she caught the interest of the gallery owner Raimond Maragall, who brought her in contact with the Ignacio de Lassaletta gallery. Among the awards and recognitions she has received, in 2014 she was awarded the Medal of Honour of the BMW Painting Prize, which she received from the hands of Queen Sofia.

Seventeen years after coming to Barcelona for her doctorate, she no longer thinks she will return to Krakow, although she visits the city frequently, with her two children. Eventually, she associated the images of her obsessive faces with the recurring dream she used to have in Krakow. And now, when she is aware that her works “also reflect the passage of time and an evolution”, she wonders what those faces would see with their eyes open.

Sònia Hernández