An insightful look into the life of the pop portrait painter, through an online interview with the artist
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I learned 5 years of secondary artistic school in Naleczow, Poland, shortly after I moved to Antwerp, Belgium where I had my first exhibitions. After 20 years I returned to Pulawy, Poland. Recently I gave up cooperation with my galleries and went independent, trying to earn my living selling works directly to collectors.
How would you describe your practice?
My favourite question! I paint on heavily primed panels, I recommend gesso "Campus by Raphael" but do not use it on canvas - it is lacking elasticity after drying and thick layer can crack.
On a sketch I apply a thin layers of acrylic ultramarine mixed with burnt umber and water. Let it dry about 24 hours. Next day I remove the paint with a dishwashing sponge (obviously I remove it from highlights only, leaving it in shadows. I repeat the process 4- 5 times until the tones are at right values. Now having blurred, slightly pale image I add all the details and deeper shadows with thin brush. It's most time-consuming part. To save time I usually work with several pieces simultaneously , often leaving them unfinished at certain stage for months, other times I finish (smaller pieces) within a week.
How has your practice changed over time?
I experiment regularly, recently. For example, I'm working on an idea to create my own models for my portraits. I always painted from photos (that I took myself) of real people.
Now, the idea is, to draw freely my own features, like shape of eyes, nose, lips, propositions and so on.
To figure out lighting and shadows I use purpose-made head sculpture that I crafted in clay myself. I light it in my atelier, so I can control softness, direction of light, shadows and angle of viewing to create convincingly realistic portrait of a non-existent person with features that I find intriguing, unique or otherwise interesting.
What does your work aim to say?
If anything, I try to convey certain mood, or atmosphere.
Some works may have seemingly symbolic elements, but these are left free for interpretation.
How has the pandemic influenced the way you work?
Not that I noticed, perhaps more time spent in atelier instead of the pub.
Do you have a common routine or ritual before you paint?
How long have you been a working artist?
First successful solo exhibition was in 2000, don't remember exactly, but within two or three years after that I became full-time painter.
Does the place you live influence your art?
Belgium is very artistic, and art aware country, plenty of high quality art museum, galleries, and shows.
Where do you get ideas for your art?
I try to have my own ideas, although some influence from other artists, old or living is inevitable.