Lavora e
   mangia (wg Weegee)

Witold Stelmachniewicz

   artwork date


oil on canvas, 55 x 55 cm

Lavora e mangia (after Weegee)
The image was based on a photo by an American photographer Weegee (owned by Arthur Fellig), who in the 1930s and 1940s documented the reality of New York City in a very thorough way. The most spectacular shots were taken at night using the characteristic light of a magnesia lamp. These nocturnal themes are mainly car accidents, fires, gangsters' settlements, but also ordinary scenes from the lives of New Yorkers. The photo I used shows a couple, where a woman is feeding a hot dog to a man, at the same time looking in the opposite direction, being interested in showing the film, because Weegee captured this moment in the cinema. I painted this picture during the first lockdown this spring. Being in isolation for several weeks, keeping in touch with others only on the phone and thanks to video broadcasts via an application on my computer, I found in Weegee's photographs an alternative reality that was taken from me almost overnight. But I decided to paint not some spectacular motif, e.g. a gangster, but this seemingly innocent scene with eating a hot dog. This picture became a reflection on spending time (remote) and free time in the same conditions of one's own home. A circumstance that made it possible to diversify the monotony was the preparation or ordering of meals. Eating became not only a necessity, but a kind of ritual, a tasty interaction when the Internet crashed and work became impossible. The title refers to an Italian saying (and is quoted in the original) - work and eat.