Agnieszka Andruszkiewicz – an artist and a designer. Born in Głowno, lives and creates in Łódź. She graduated from the Tadeusz Makowski High School of Fine Arts in Łódź and Institute of Paper and Printing of Lodz University of Technology (Master of Engineering). She took her Ph.D. in the field of design at the Jan Matejko Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków in 2017. She taught her authorial class at Academy of Arts in Szczecin in a laboratory of paper and packaging.
Agnieszka is creating very beautiful forms of paper, both flat and three-dimensional. She is using different paper types: tissue paper, wax paper, brown unbleached paper. She’s also forming herself handmade paper, coloured in mass. She is using it to create new qualities. We went to her studio to get a glimpse of her world and ask a few questions about her inspirations and creative process. Come with us!
How did your journey with art begin? What made you dedicate yourself to this field?
My journey with art started from natural curiosity, I like new things. This field helps me with understanding the surrounding world. Thanks to it, I can focus more and organise things in my head. I simply need it.
Why did you choose paper as a medium? In what way does it change the thinking about art?
At first, I was in an art high school in Łódź, those were the cool times, but then I wasn’t working with paper yet. As part of my diploma project, I made a copy of the sculpture of Michelangelo’s Dying Slave. It was a large sculpture, it stood over 2 metres. As far as I know, it is now displayed in the building of the board of education in Łódź. Then, I started studies at the Lodz University of Technology in the field of Paper and Printing. During the time I was there, I was able to get to know paper and became fond of it. Initially, more technologically. Since then, paper has fascinated me. I don’t know if I chose this medium consciously. I guess it all just came out that way.
How is this medium changing my thinking about art?
I’m getting into relation with paper, carton, cardboard to play with it, without any fireworks. It is definitely a more intimate art. I like to stay in my own world and do what helps me to recharge my batteries and gather my thoughts.
Paper as a medium is stepping into the world of art seriously and is taking its own territory. Artists have banded together as IAPMA (International Association of Hand Papermakers and Paper Artists) and they are organising exhibitions and conferences. Thanks to that they influence the meaning of paper as a form of art. What is more, paper is publicly available material that is easy to form which results in a growing number of supporters.
What artist inspires you the most? Who do you armire?
I admire courageous people, following their own path and also those who are searching for new unexplored lands and are curious about the world. These are people who have the ability of observation and ask crucial questions. I follow the Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow MOCAK and there’s for example, one exhibition showing outstanding poets or thinkers in different creative roles. At MOCAK I was very impressed by the exhibition of photographs by Roman Ingarden. In my opinion, this shows that if you are creative, it does not matter what the “label” of the profession or discipline you work in states. Everything is fluid, open and permeating. This is exactly what I admire.
What is your favourite work of art?
I don’t have my favourite work of art, I’m still looking for it. For instance, currently I’m admiring new works of Neri Oxman that are being exhibited at MoMA. She’s a designer, I like her fresh view on the so-called “ecology of materials”. She combines organic design, science and new digital technologies with the aim of searching for innovative possibilities of creating, manufacturing or even construction in the future. Her works are representing a new philosophy of design and creating a world around us.
What is your favourite museum or art gallery?
I have a fondness for the Museum of Papermaking in Duszniki-Zdrój – it’s the paper’s home. I like to think that in that people who work there have passion for paper, that they are taking care of it, and of its condition. I’m keen on museums of modern art, I’m following the MoMA in New York on social media. I’m interested in every phenomena associated with contemporary art. I’m keeping an eye on this with interest and curiosity. However, the closest to me is Art Museum MS1 and MS2. When I was studying at the art high school, we used to go to classes at MS1. We were familiarizing ourselves there with what exactly is avant-garde art. It was a really important experience for me, which shaped me as an artist.
How does Łódź influence you as an artist? Have you got your favourite places in Łódź, which were the source of inspiration for you?
Art Museums MS1 and MS2 are my beloved places. It’s a space to discover new, different world. There are a lot of inspirations and memories related to Kobro and Strzemiński. It is the most important place for me in the Łódź’s art scene.
How would you describe your process of art making? Is it more like a regular, daily work or quite the opposite: jumping into creative working caused by sudden inspiration?
My process means thinking and making an attempt to understand, and extract from paper its beauty, potential and also mystery. I take into my hands some tissue paper and it assumes a shape it wants. I need this process and when this happens I feel then that something important is happening inside me. Everything that I try to do, comes from my need and it just happens. I also have something from an engineer – I design forms from paper; constructions of packages without gluing, paper flip-flops or hand fans. My process is rather analytical thinking and daily work, constant attempts and improvement of what is already here. It requires patience and persistence.
What do you think is your biggest success?
I’ve never thought about my work in the context of success. What exactly is a success? What I appreciate and consider my relations with people, with my students with whom I have contact all the time, very important. This gives me joy – working with them and playing with paper of course.
What advice would you give to beginner artists or what was the best advice that you got as an artist?
The very word “artist” sounds kind of weird for me. Who is an artist? I’m a Master of Science in Paper Technology and also Ph.D. of art in the discipline of design art – these are the categories I can be associated with. I have an artistic mind but also an analytical mind, which makes me very happy. To young people, I would say that they should do what they want and how they want. They shouldn’t get caught up in any system.
Which of your works do you like best?
This question I can’t answer clearly In my works I like things that surprise me. I enjoy the moment when I stay in front of them, I look and they wink at me. Moments like this make me happy.
What gives you the most pleasure in your work, and what is the hardest for you in being an artist?
I enjoy the action when I take paper into my hand. For example, this unbleached grey paper and I try to build a relationship with it, understand what it wants , and what it is. I am primarily a teacher and I share my passion with students. I show them different faces of paper, which is now my hero.
What are you currently working on?
Currently I’m working on a big project based on unbleached paper produced by company called Mondi Świecie. It will be a blooming paper meadow at a certain city hall. The aim of the project will be to work together in creating a blooming space in one area, to feel the power and strength of the collective. It will be a large project with the educational part with multi-level and multi-stage activities. I’m already happy about that.
What are your plans for the nearest future?
The plan is to have eyes open and look, search for cool things and play with them. Paper is also changing. Whenever I look at it, it never stops to amaze me. Recently I saw a student’s project of manufactured material from banana peels or toilet paper manufactured from bamboo and that’s cool. Paper from elephant excrements, silk paper and the most beautiful in the world Japanese tissue are also becoming more and more beautiful. I like all of them and I guess it’s possible to do everything with them. Also Japanese aesthetic is very close to me.
I think this is the direction I will follow with my ideas and realizations. Next year, at a large international paper conference, I will have the opportunity to present works made of paper produced in Poland, and this is a challenge. How to present a wavy paperboard that expresses Japanese aesthetics?
What does art mean to you?
It is a search, it is an attempt to answer difficult questions. It is finding new worlds, new perspectives of seeing and thinking. It is the pursuit of the yet mystery.
What are new challenges for art in the modern world? What is the role of an artist nowadays?
The challenge is being true in one’s work. The role of an artist is independence and freedom. Not entering any systems, schemes of which there are so many now.
We invite you to look at the artist’s blog, where she shares her passion and experiences: Mokra robota (Wet work) »
Project Artophilia pays a visit to artists from Łódź was produced thanks to the co-financing from Łódź city budget.