Dagmar Cyrulla

Melbourne-based artist Dagmar Cyrulla constructs contemporary narratives that raise ontological questions about what it is to be human in a virtual world. Her upcoming exhibition ‘I am’ features figurative paintings created over one year that challenge our position within the world’s connectedness, specifically referencing gender equality and the #metoo movement.


Painting intimate vignettes of women absorbed in their own home rituals, the artist allows her protagonists to be wholly themselves – unencumbered by any external gaze or the strictures of society. Oblivious to the viewer, they are part of an elusive private narrative of which the viewer only glimpses a single moment. Cyrulla reflects, ‘I like to capture them as they reflect on themselves and their world unperturbed by the viewer’s gaze. Their posture tells a story too, they all have a certain strength but without losing their femininity or their vulnerability. These women become characters in a story’.

Despite the fleshy, palpable humanness of Cyrulla’s figures, there is a hint of technological intrusion in these quiet domestic scenes, emblemised by the ubiquitous mobile phone. The nakedness of the female form is buttressed by the small devices, melding together the natural with the technological in a way that both confronts and reassures the viewer about the vicissitudes of contemporary communication. Cyrulla reflects on this paradox of technology – that it nurtures both community and isolation: ‘The telephone in my paintings reiterates the disconnect, but at the same time the connectedness of relationships.’ In paintings such as Modern Muse (2018), a classically-composed reclining nude gripping a mobile phone precipitates notions of (dis)engagement in a digital world – an idea upturned in the work Simpler Times (2018) as a woman slowly pulls up her socks, her contented concentration a stark contrast to the indifferent gaze usually found peering at a screen.

Rendered with gestural brushstrokes and an empathetic eye, Cyrulla’s muses ultimately reinstate the human in an increasingly dehumanised world. As we peek into their internal worlds, we are confronted with the pervasiveness of technology – not on a grand scale but on an intimate, human level.

I Am | Dagmar Cyrulla
13 October – 6 November 2018
Wagner Contemporary, Sydney


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