Artist Statement

Artist Statement

I’m an artist who hates artist statements and finds them very pretentious, so it’s been very hard to write one. I’ve tried many times over the years. I believe work should speak for itself, however I do understand the importance of giving context. Below is an artist statement about my inspirations and thought process behind my work as it evolved over time:

Unlike many, I believe that traditional art forms like painting still have the potential for aesthetic and conceptual innovation. To say that visual art and painting have innovated as much as possible is to stop just at the beginning of truly pushing the medium. My greatest inspirations in fine art have been the impressionists and artists from the 20th century, who I feel were some of the greatest catalysts in visual art.

Inspirations

I am inspired by Claude Monet and early works by Paul Signac for their observations in color, light, atmosphere, mood, and the way the human eye sees.

Claude Monet
Claude Monet
Paul Signac
Paul Signac

I am inspired by Van Gogh for his stylized use of color and brush strokes, for his personal expression and use of intuition. I am inspired by Thom Thompson’s treks in the Canadian landscape and how he portrays nature as its own persona while progressing plein air painting techniques and the light and color techniques first developed by impressionists.

Artist Statement by Karolina Szablewska
Artist Statement by Karolina Szablewska
The infamous Charizard drawn by Ken Sugimori, the designer of the original 151 Pokemon.

I am inspired by American Western art, which was the original influence on cinematography, for its storytelling, composition, and lighting. Likewise, I am inspired by Japanese art, both traditional and manga styles, for storytelling and use of line and simplified forms. A few of the anime & manga influences I grew up with: Pokemon, Tsubasa Chronicle, Digimon, Yu-gi-oh! and then the many amazing films by Studio Ghibli.

Lastly, I’m inspired by Alex Colville for his ability to create a unique emptiness in mood through his use of texture and shape.

All these contemporary painters and illustrators demonstrate that the painting has much potential to progress further, and has greatly accelerated past dull, staged portraiture and overworked, contrived landscapes or images to describe religious scriptures.

Artist Statement by Karolina Szablewska
Thom Thompson
Artist Statement by Karolina Szablewska
Alex Coville

Color & The Role of Black

For my art practice, color is perhaps the single most important tool in conveying emotion or thought. I like to work with the most subtle variations in light, texture, shape, line, and color and I like the viewer to spend time with the image, to inspire introspection. One of my ongoing aesthetic explorations is the use of color in linework, as opposed to relying on the black line. I question the impact of black lines and black as a color when conveying a feeling in relation to the colors around it as its role is usually taken for granted (eg. lineart is by default black). I see this as building on where the impressionists have left-off, expanding on their observations. My favorite color changes year to year, and I believe that’s how strong we can connect with color to succinctly portray ourselves.

Art as a Document & Subject Matter

I see art as a communication tool just like writing, where aesthetic principles are like words. As the artist, I am the medium for the words to pass through into a artifact. I believe art encompasses all emotions, thoughts, and subjects, and so should never censor as such in order to only be decorative, safe, and pleasing because that is dishonest to the human experience and nature. No one is always happy, or sad, and life isn’t always peaceful and kind. Nature is often brutal and morbid. Life is also full of danger and eroticism. There is a beauty found in documenting the darker side of life and the mind next to finding the joys, and I see my overall artistic practice as a documentary process. For this reason, I prefer to swing back and forth in this dynamic of light & dark subject matter.

The dark and surreal imagery of my art is influenced by haunting personal memories, intense emotions, taboos, and metaphoric dreams. I’m strongly inspired by Carl Jung psychology and his investigation into the role of dreams in our lives.

Some of my viewers tell me my art put into images darker thoughts and feelings they couldn’t begin to put into words. I value such a real connection with my viewers and being able to make my viewer feel real and whole. I admire the work of Zdzisław Beksiński  for his ability to do this on behalf of Polish citizens post WWII destruction. Despite him denying this was part of his works, his surreal imagery brought out the painfully bleak dread and remnants of death in the collective Polish psyche through its symbolism. I think there is much more potential in surrealism to convey thought and feeling than simply adding funky, weird elements that defy expectations of mundane sensory reality. Even Alex Coville’s paintings, though not “officially” surrealist, step away from expected reality just subtly enough that it engages the subconscious.

Artist Statement by Karolina Szablewska
Zdzisław Beksiński 

Finding Order in Chaos

I love being lost in a book, a film, or music, and in searching for wisdom and beauty in nature. Imagery meditation is a tool incredibly important to my personal life and artistic exploration. I really enjoy finding order in chaos, which reflects the process of my work. For me, my work also feels like a meditation on a particular subject, or fleeting moment, or mood. In some of my work, I try convey that seemingly impossible sense of peace one experiences through meditation. I don’t use meditation imagery as a divine ascension or self-actualization nor connection with imaginary gods, but more like a sense of finding balance. I am interested in exploring the portrayal of liminal space through art.

Although it may appear I cannot create dynamic, graphical compositions, it’s usually an intentional aesthetic choice. I use square compositions or even thirds, vignettes to pull move the eye smoothly through an image back to the center focus, a subject near center or on center focus because it creates a sense of order in the chaos of visual information and diminishes tension. I give my subjects fairly neutral expressions because a piece is more about the overall atmosphere of the scene rather than the viewer projecting themselves onto the main subject, more like an omnipresent eye.

Summary of Artist Statement

All this combined, I make art that is inspired by the holistic presentation of life and nature as filtered through my personal experience, documenting beauty and chaos found in our environment, our nature and minds. I’m working from where contemporary 20th century Eastern and Western artists, like the impressionists and surrealists, left off in the visual arts. I am exploring conveying mood and atmosphere through the significance of color in a mixed media art practice.

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