St. Agatha with breast cut off - 2015 / 54x27 cm / Oil on panel
Kle Mens (Klementyna Stępniewska, b. 1985) Warsaw-based visual artist, working in different media (painting, objects, video art). Winner of the main prize at the XII edition of the Geppert Competition (2016), the most prestigious contest for young painters in Poland. Kle Mens graduated from the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts in 2014 under the direction of Jarosław Modzelewski and Igor Przybylski.
Kle Mens's father died a tragic death, and her mother suffered from schizophrenia and became a devotee. Her childhood and teenage years were spent away from her peers, in Catholic communities. Kneeling on the cold church floor for hours on end.
The tenth, twelfth, fourteenth hour of work passes, but Kle Mens continues to paint. She hasn't prayed before bedtime in years, but when she holds a paintbrush she falls into a trance. Her self-portrait paintings depict her as Catholic saints and female martyrs. Kle Mens uses an original technique - dozens of translucent layers of paint are spread on bare wood, each painting taking many months to complete.
Kle Mens no longer believes in God, but she longs for the holistic image of the world, encompassing the whole of reality. She refers to Catholic motifs in a personal way, searching for existential, feminist, sexual and political contexts. She associates female martyrs with the situation of women in nationalist Poland, on the other hand, however - they are also images of her love of herself.
The work of Kle Mens is an exercise in postsecular artistic practice.