Tag Archives: studying art

More or less ‘incognita’?

Well, l cannot avoid this question now -not after almost four years of studying art and over two years of writing the blog with the ‘unknown’ promise in its title… How ‘known’ my land has become – to me and to others who – just due to my appearance within the ‘art-world’ – have been gracing me with their attention and often a friendship in here and in the ‘real’ life?

As l stated introducing the blog, and with some inevitable degree of audacity in all those happy beginnings – this writing of mine has been devoted to an exploration of an ‘unknown’ – ‘Terra lncognita’ of the contemporary art and my own personal expression. So – more or less ‘incognita’? Or – shall l rather ask – have l failed better or worse?

Some of my long-followers may already have an answer and l won’t blame them for that – where has the drive of the ‘old good times’ gone? And – the author’s ability of abandoning the site seems to be the only thing that got ‘better’ with time…

Right – cannot or won’t defend myself here. Not because of my apparently innate self-indulgence which had made this adventure possible at all, but cos – believe it or not – l’ve been trying to display some sort of integrity all the way through. Hence , never this very virtual profile has appeared better (hopefully not ‘worse’) than my actual experience had been-  day to day – enfolding the world as seen by the ‘painter’s’ eyes… Mirroring all the tides of emotions and the intellectual gain, as well as meaningfully keeping silent throughout the toughest bits…

But – to return to the dilemma – is it all more or less known/unknown right now? How do l feel about embarking the ‘professional’ board? These and many other questions need to be  addressed within the next few months in a way that nothing/nobody could have ever been able to teach me to deal with…

Am l afraid? Perhaps more than my sensibility and sentience can admit for the sake of my own well-being. Yet – in all that fear l’m still lucky to have all those beautiful individuals who will stay be me… and l’m still able to write it down in here… how truly and undeservedly lucky one can get…

Studying Art (17) – Why do you paint?

I’ve been challenged with this innocent question recently, and though I came up with an immediate answer at that moment ‘of truth’, I still keep pondering over it now, as if looking for a deeper, fuller view…

Why do you paint? Why do I paint?

My photographs say most of what I want to convey, my writing could explain the rest… I enjoy constructing installations, and I’ve got a truly creative time exploring all the new media available… Yet, I’ve been coming back to painting like a prodigal son, despite,  or – perhaps – because of everything, that has been given and taken away from me, due to my pursuit of this particular way… That ‘everything’, which I find almost beyond any description…

I remember being praised for that ‘loyalty’ to the medium, and my answer – quick, almost sub-conscious, was:
– Well, we cannot escape ourselves, can we?…
And then I added:
– In forty years time, I will probably still be painting…

Strange, how sure I was about it at that time, having only few studies in paint executed and still being largely ignorant about the most basic things…

I’m far from crafting any cryptic messages about the mystical connections between a painter and his materials, between his psyche and that angelic ‘monster’ – the painting, which always proves to be stronger than its creator… There is something true about it and those, who paint can grasp it… Yet, there is much more…

Painting has got that power to create, and abolish, entire worlds… just now… And the responsibility for that is a part of an adventure… Just like the all  pain involved into it…

That was my ‘raw’,  intuitive answer to the title-question. I meant by that, that each time I take a paint-loaded brush to live a mark on canvas I’m in a charge of an universe, which is out there, waiting to be created in me, and – through me – in an artwork…

It can take a minute or years; it can cost nothing or life and health; it can result in generation-changing discoveries and it may end up in a private despair only… Yet – there is that creative, never-ending, always profound challenge no other artistic medium, I know, can offer to a searching mind and courageous spirit… The challenge to capture the essence of life and death, humanity and divinity, what has ever existed and what is possible yet…

Painting is my Theory of Everything – it aims at explaining and linking all the matter of my consciousness (and unconscious) into an independent, evocative system – a Cosmos taming and denying Chaos .

Painting is the projection of my humanity, it’s a story of a human being… No other medium (except maybe music) appears to be so close to the human nervous system – I paint with my nerves, I paint with my blood and cells… I paint as a living being – living organism to create another living organisms – self-sufficient microcosms.

I paint to save and to be saved…

And you – Why do YOU paint?


Art Diary (9) – The Sublime

What these images have in common? Is there any sensible link between C.D. Friedrich’s “Wanderer”, the Cosmos, Barrack Obama’s image and Andreas Gursky’s photo (the last image) of the stock exchange? What would be that feeling, that intangible sensation of ours, or maybe even their own – those propositions’ intrinsic quality, which keeps us utterly speechless pondering over the infinity of the Space, which leaves us completely ‘knocked down’ facing Friedrich’s vision of the Nature, which makes us truly enthusiastic and ‘bowing’ to the charisma present in people (the new US president is the ‘fresh’ example); which leads us on a verge of an absolute confusion scanning the artificial universe of the stock exchange?

Philosophers and art critics called it “The Sublime” and, quite predictably, they made a whole, complex and disputable aesthetic concept out of this elusive spiritual phenomenon, this metaphysical ‘slap on the face’ that we feel entering unchartered, unknown and frightening (yet always in a pleasure-giving way) territory. Would it be the Romantics’ wilderness or the contemporary jungle of the financial markets or the true power of the human character reaching to its heights – its far more than just ‘beautiful’ – ‘beautiful’ can be a humble flower in your garden… Sometimes you cannot even call it ‘beautiful’, at least not in a classical meaning of the word… But it is ‘sublime’ – it’s intense, powerful, vast, superhuman – it both terrifies you and cast a spell upon you, it never ‘asks’ to be followed, it simply launches a rocket straight to your soul – but the answer is yours – be overpowered or reject it.

My humble belief as for now is that the new, re-thought and skilfully presented Sublime can have a redeeming power over the contemporary art. Maybe this is the time, when we could and should dare to reach to the depths of the human spirit again, the way our great grand-grandfathers from 18th century did?… Obviously, the simple return is impossible – not ‘after the Holocaust’, not after the death of god and not after the traditional philosophy had bankrupted as a ‘rescue’ to the overwhelming confusion of the existence. But to create that experience of being ‘uncompromisingly alive’, of being struck like by the lightening by the world, by another human being again – to invent, to design and to make it inhabitable anew… That would be something – wouldn’t it?

This is my intuition for today. I will give it some more thought in the future…

Studying Art – Diary (7)

First year of a truly personal work (and 2nd of BA Fine Art degree) has just finished – I mean, in an ‘official’ meaning of the word, since anyone lucky enough and doomed enough, who is even mildly familiar with art studying, accepts as a matter of fact the perpetual, omnipresent nature of it. In a sense, there is no escape from art once it gets into one’s blood for good…

Art is a formidable force, it arises out of blue and from nowhere and takes an individual’s life in her passionate, jealous possession. She knows no moral scruples nor ontological doubts, you devote her all and entirely – the most personal and painful, purely golden or even the ugliest or most ridiculous aspects of your being – or she calls you a coward, a cheat and refuses to deal with you on a serious basis. One has to have a considerable personal maturity and strength of character and well-established relationship with the world around, and even with the loved ones, to not to get devoured by that absolutely irresistible, life-giving and life-transforming energy.

I am Art – it’s always, always on my mind;
not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure for myself,
but as my own being.
Oh – be with me always – take any form – drive me mad!
Only do not leave me in an abyss where I couldn’t be able to find you!
I couldn’t be able to live without my life!
I couldn’t be able to live without my soul!

Let this paraphrase of my favourite parts of the Wuthering Heights be a sort of my personal confession for today – 18 May 2008 – just after the tough ‘baptism’ of this ‘junior’ period. As weird and self-teasing as it sounds it speaks my spirit out better than any intellectualised essay-like nonsense.

My dear friends, and by that I mean everyone, who has shared hers/his time with me silently, in a dialog, in laugh and tears, or maybe in thoughts, who has been and is there to make my journey – our journey less lonely – thank you again and again. Telling you all this not because I’m an emotional sort of a girl who gets ‘high spirits’ easily – as most of you know – but because art has taught me anew to appreciate the most important thins in their importance, the most beautiful in their beauty, the most necessary in their necessity. It’s still a difficult battle and it’s not going to be easy for the next, lets say – fifty years, but at least I made (hope we all made) an important step forward.

‘Forward’ – that’s the key-word: in our times, when even science and technology makes no longer any optimistic prognoses in terms of general, positive ‘progress’ of the human world – art is all about life-affirmative ‘moving on’. Like Nature – it transforms its own decay and even death into a new beginning, its evolution is both linear and magically circular – it’s got the power over fleeting time, yet it respectfully responds to its needs. Lets move forward – my friends – always forward and always on a move.

Enjoy your summer. I’m going to paint my garden with oils…

Studying Art – Diary 5

0.jpgLast week has been critical in many terms. I’ve been struggling with a terrible flu, mostly trying to ignore it in my fashion and carrying on as usual… And I’ve decided to go to Paris in April with a group of students and tutors (I just can’t wait!)… Finally, battling on a field of painting (and art – generally) I think, I finally understood something important, something that would hopefully shape my future artistic way both in a practice and reflection.

Hence today, still feeling those quite overwhelming efforts of last few days and those moments of ‘enlightenment’ I would like to record a handful of thoughts… The reason I am writing them here instead in my ‘private’ diary is, as always what concerns this site, my hope that I would make somebody out there, maybe you, to feel less alone… Despite all my cynicism and, sometimes, just punishable lack of care towards people I remain a hopelessly ‘humanistic’ soul, wanting to help others in their struggle of being that incredibly ridiculous creature – ‘a human being’ (hope, it doesn’t sound too ‘good’ to not to be ironic):

* No matter what you do, you’ve got probably one and only chance to ‘invent’ yourself , to speak out whom you are and why – what are you made of, what’s your story, to have the courage to be yourself NO MATTER what, who, where – and this very ‘chance’, this very moment is now – only NOW, tomorrow, in an hour or even in a second – will be too late…

* Don’t leave the better ‘bits’ of yourself, deep thoughts, smiles and compassion for ‘more worthy’ people, for your friends or family only, don’t hide it ‘for later’, ‘for better occasion’… Be generous with that, always – it goes without saying when ‘giving birth’ to art is involved – grow your heart, mind and dreams big and bigger, as big as you can afford physically and psychologically. It’s a difficult, sometimes painful way but the only one if you want to move on as a human, a man, a woman, a member of any community.

* You have to be able and willing to transcend yourself on a daily basis – it’s especially important for a practicing artist. To feel too safe, familiar, comfortable in your little ‘garden’ of painting, drawing etc. – expressionistic, melancholic and dark, ‘showy’ and bright, only rebellious and ‘fighting’ – and whatever it is – means only that you’ve ceased your progress… You look at your flowers in a vase enjoying how beautiful they are, but they are already dead and what you see is only their final blooming dance… Don’t bother with so called ‘style’, it’s one of those ‘magic’ wands critics had invented to appear less helpless when they approach an artwork. If there is anything like that it’s only the ‘style’ of your personality, of you being you and the ‘style’ of today, tomorrow you can be miles away… even if you continue to produce similar works (because your current existential condition is pretty much the same, because you are designing a series) you should have awareness that, at their inner level they should be generated from ever-changing and challenging stimulants…

* In art there is many contrastive and self-negating elements, ever-lasting challenging tensions and irrational, sometimes just hilarious ‘truths’ that, without being able to accept and eventually – to love them all you will never find yourself a ‘legitimate’ and possessing any power ‘citizen’ of this strange world. Just few of them discovered while painting a canvas this week:

– you don’t have to paint ‘dark’, ‘moody’, ‘dirty’ paintings to say ‘dark’ things – as a matter of fact – a bright or even appearing as cheerful work can convey those ‘dark’ ideas much more convincingly, the whole ‘trick’ is to use your picture-space and colour wisely by, for example, placing a ‘black dot’ in a focal point

– really big canvases can be very intimate (as far as I remember, Rothko made that discovery before me), they hang there ‘unclothed’ because of their ‘exhibitionist’ scale and just invite you to get inside them, to become a part of a story they try to tell, their embrace is tender, seductive, sometimes violent, always a sort of a relation – forming encounter

colour does have a power, it really does (as an example, my crimson and reds were glowing so intensely that I failed to notice for hours that air around me was almost freezing) – yet to get it out of it you need to know all it weaknesses and limitations and – more importantly – you cannot avoid them at all costs when painting, you have to learn to employ them in a process of ‘turning’ your colour on… As an example: quite a number of layers – layers of ‘bleached’, ‘weak’ or even ‘dirt-ish’, very often contrastive colour take to make your final layer looking ‘alive’ – the powerful colour gets its life from all that struggle being fought ‘inside’ it by all those much less powerful (or just very ‘weak’) shades, tints and variations of hues…

And, more general remark, you must never be afraid of colour – it’s there for you, use it with all the bravery and boldness that you can afford , it’s much more easier than you think to ‘kill’ the ‘loudness’ of it and you can do this at each stage when painting, but it’s much more difficult to make ‘sing’ a ‘weeping’ with colours painting. And be prepared for a lot of mixing when you want to paint a convincing ‘low-key’ or monochrome paintings, those are really difficult – less colour you want to show, more paint you will have to use in order to produce unusual, working greys, darks and neutrals.

Hope it helps, my words of sympathy to all of you battling with challenges that only art can be responsible for… That’s why probably we want to bother at all and we are ready to do this for years and years…

Studying Art – Diary (3)

It’s amazing and disconcerting in a way how many influences one may be powered by.

At the moment (the end of November 2007) I find myself being inspired by:

  • Blue … this goes without saying (and I think I owe blue a separate post) – by Blue I mean: a colour, a limitless variations/tones/shades of a hue, a symbol for freedom, infinity, mystery, spirituality, immortality, power, melancholy and renditions of the symbols – butterflies, sea, sky, cosmos etc.; characteristics – ambiguity, transparency, potential cold – ness and air-ness.
  • Modern Architecture – there are some buildings and even cities out there that look like a set for a science – fiction movie. I find architecture in its designs – vision and use of materials being remarkably ahead of our times. Ok – we’ve got those intimidating digital, mechanical and scientific innovations but we still live in a brick/concrete box-like environment (and we’ll be living like this for decades and centuries – unless somebody will hang all the “developers” who transform our area into a “posh-y” but nasty concentration camps of identical houses). So there are some ingenious structures – they don’t have a cosy feeling but have power to inspire:

Fritz Lang’s Metropolis is another influence linked to this theme.

  • Outsider Art – called also rough, raw, brute, intuitive, extraordinary, visionary – all art created outside the art establishment (art institutions and societies). Too often marginalised and reduced to work produced in mental asylums and by mentally tormented people. It embraces also different sorts of primitive/naive or folk art, graffiti or… art produced by children. I met with a sort of inattention while mentioning this kind of influence in my college but for me the raw art is probably the only honestly motivated art created today. It’s got freshness and originality, purity and freedom often unattainable for the proper art. Maybe it’s because the brute artist doesn’t really care (or – does he?) about the whole net of ridiculous phenomena like reception, fame, money, concepts, sponsors, exhibitions etc. etc.

  • Kate Bush – music and video work. Her Cloudbusting is especially compelling – it’s thoughtfully irrational, and wisely emotional . I just keep on listening/watching:

  • Scientific drawings by Anatoly Fomenko
  • Photography – I simply adore images by Magnum photographers. These images have the Catharsis quality (in an original Aristotle’s meaning – as a spiritual purification by experience of pity and awe – because human drama we watch makes us more conscious of our own human condition; because it could happen to us too) :

Studying Art – Diary (2)

For the first time in my life I posed for another person. And although it were pretty simple poses, some quick, some longer, some studies of hands, some portraits I found this experience quite revealing and formative.

I suppose the whole trick rests on the inversion of roles – quite suddenly from a subject you are becoming an object, from a creator – merely a pretext for creation, from an observer and researcher (especially when you made life-drawings yourself) – an insider, someone inhabiting the experience and – if observing – having an inward, intimate view of the situation.

So the main reactions I have had were:

– surprise that I’ve never thought about myself as an object – thing, article, item, device… (not in terms of substance since this obviously remains unchangeable but the purpose) and a sort of a humble feeling as a result (very didactic in my case)

– enhanced awareness of my own body and detailed analysis of it; I probably spend too much time on self-reflection yet I don’t remember to study myself (and not only  the physique) with such an insight and with a kind of a new, fresh approach

– intense and very mixed reception of the drawings (products of that session) – this was the most illuminating part of the whole adventure, on the one hand I had discovered that the other man doesn’t see me in a way I see and perceive myself – that sounds like a pure truism, but I still remember that confusion Why do I appear this way? Are they really my legs, hands, movements? It seemed like there was somebody else inside me, whose rendition my draughtsman had caught. On the other hand – I achieved some degree of an acceptation of how Katarzyna Skonieczna may be interpreted and that there is more than one or two genuine, believable versions of myself.

I would recommend being a model, posing, sitting – even for a brief period of time for anyone studying art.

It’s that rare occasion (within fine art at least – we can hardly swamp places with our still-life in order to see how it’s to be one) when standing on a scene instead of just analysing it from the viewers’ side has a potential of transforming us into a better viewer and a better actor at the same time.

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