Tomasz Zjawiony – painter, designer, lives and creates in Łódź. He graduated from the Strzemiński Academy of Art in Łódź. He defended his diploma in the Residential Interior Design Studio in 2018. He currently, studies painting at the Jan Matejko Academy of Fine Arts. He took part in a lot of collective exhibitions and competitions. He was also nominated for the Prime Time Award at the exhibition of The Best Graduate Works of The Strzemiński Academy of Art in Łódź 2018. He is a laureate of numerous awards, among others: Rector’s Award at Academy of Art in Łódź in the 35th Władysław Strzemiński’s Fine Arts Competition in 2018 for cycle of five paintings; Grand Prix in 2nd Polish National Painting Biennial of Architectural Landscape in Bisztynek in 2018 for cycle of three paintings; He is a laureate of the first prize in competition for internet users for the most interesting artist during 44th Bielska Jesień 2019.
His studio is illuminated in flashes of sunlight. Tomek is a man of few words. He doesn’t say too much nor too less. He carefully chooses his words and seeks meaning. Calmness is present throughout the whole talk. We listen to him telling us about his creative process, mindfulness and concentration, how distracting is the view behind the window, when he paints. He works with all the blinds down, listening to classical music – he escapes to the inside. He searches for what is unnamed, to put it on canvas. Time spent with him is a good time. We invite you to take prat in an intriguing interview with Tomek….
What was the beginning of your journey with art? What made you dedicate yourself to this field?
I have been interested in art for as long as I can remember. Since I was a child, I felt and I knew that I wanted to pursue this, it was obvious for me. Later, however, I had various life turbulences – but I am now at the point where I was intuitively then. Painting has always been fascinating for me. Once during the trip to the theatre one painting got stuck in my mind. I didn’t even pay attention to what exhibition it was in. This one particular picture was the most important for me, it showed a man in some deformed pose. I was maybe eight years old at that time. The play didn’t intrigue me, I don’t even remember it, but this situation with the exhibition I remember very clearly.
Why did you choose this medium? In what way does it change the thinking about art?
At the beginning I painted with everything that I could. I even reached for watercolors, which seemed too delicate a medium for me. I worked for a long time also with acrylics. Towards the end of my work with acrylics I bought a huge supply of them and I still have it somewhere. Now I paint only with oil because of their charm. Oil paints are noble, they give a lot of possibilities to work on and they don’t dry too quickly, which is crucial for me. Usually, I work on a painting for a period of time or put it aside for two days. Oil paints work best with this system. I also work expressively and I like the effects of oils then.
What artist inspires you the most? Who do you admire?
Teresa Pągowska and Francis Bacon. I like their painting because of the pure transmission of emotions, although I’m not inspired by their works. In Bacon’s case it was an interesting, creative process and subordinating life to art, being here and there, winning and losing in the casino, and transferring everything into painting. In the works of Teresa Pągowska, I really like the emotionality and the freedom she embraced in her works.
What is your favourite work of art?
I don’t know, I don’t think I have one. I rarely focus on just one work. Sometimes I start looking for something, I like something, but it is difficult for me to focus on that one specific work. Currently, I like what Adrian Ghenie is doing, especially his cycle Pie Fight Study, some of his paintings are interpretations of Van Gogh’s works.
What is your favourite museum or art gallery?
Center Georges Pompidou. It is the Museum of Modern Art in Paris. It is located in an interesting, timeless building, at the same time quite perverse for an art gallery. The museum has enormous collections from all over the world. In Poland, however, I really like the Raster Gallery in Warsaw – the interior of the gallery maintains its atmosphere, not much has been changed there for years and that’s cool, I like their choices when it comes to artists too. I appreciate the Silesian Museum in Katowice as well – great architecture in line with the surroundings. One of the best museums in my opinion, also because of its collections.
How does Łódź influence you as an artist? Have you got your favourite places in Łódź, which were the source of inspiration for you?
It is not difficult to notice that Łódź was and probably still is an inspiration for me. There are several of my paintings that are strongly Łódź-based. I like Bałuty and Polesie, but also Łódź Górna, where I lived some time ago. I used to like OFF Piotrkowska, I liked concerts at the Dom Club. Now OFF has changed and I rarely go there. I have been interested in Bałuty for years, it is a bit of a “Łódź underground”. I’m also interested in the area of the Łódź Fabryczna railway station, streets: Włókiennicza, Wólczańska, Abramowskiego etc. You can see a lot there.
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?
I’m not really a traditional painter. I do weird things that I don’t know the purpose of, but I do them anyway. I have to go out somewhere, do something constantly, and the paintings are a record of all these experiences. For me, the painting process is not about making a product. I don’t think about painting or finishing a specific work. For me, a painting transmits a story that goes beyond its framework. I think this is my additional form of communication and dialogue.
Sometimes I go to another city for completely no reason. I stay there for a few days, theoretically I should be doing something, at least sketching, and I’m not doing anything but observing. I do research and then I come back. A process that I do not know where it came from and what for. Recently I was in Krakow. I sat down at the Main Square, and a guy sat next to me, a retired professional footballer from the days of communism – it turns out that it used to be fun to be a footballer.
What do you think is your biggest success?
Independence, autonomy. I work a lot and organize everything on the daily basis. This possibility of self-organization and freedom helps me a lot.
What advice would you give to beginner artists or what was the best advice that you got as an artist?
To work and be consistent. I got one piece of advice from the great sculptor Wanda Czełkowska, who I had the pleasure to meet thanks to my friend Ewa. We were invited to her enormous studio, great space, huge hall filled with her personality, habits and amazing works. The advice was: go through life, don’t try to escape but rather seek your individual expression.
Which of your works do you like best?
What gives you the most pleasure in your work, and what is the hardest for you in being an artist?
The creative process itself, which is interesting all the time, because you never know what will come into being. I don’t focus only on painting, then again mainly on it. I am also doing installation art now. The hardest part is earning money for monthly bills and fees that aren’t always covered by selling paintings.
What are you currently working on?
On socially engaged topics.
What are your plans for the nearest future?
I don’t plan even for the nearest future. I work on what comes at a given moment. It often results from where I look and what I search for. I’m planning to develop an installation project. I hope I will find a space in which I could put it, in large format.
What does art mean to you?
A form of communication and expression on various topics. Sometimes I want the painting to scream, but it’s difficult. That is why I think and work with other media. I’m always interested in how the viewers will react to art. It is a fascinating way – art allows you to reach a wider audience.
What are the new challenges for art in the modern world? What is the role of an artist nowadays?
Probably not much has changed, The best situation is when art catches one’s eye and triggers certain experiences to happen. Currently, there is a lot of pressure on artists to speak through their work about the issue of the climate crisis. I don’t know if this is good. In art, it is important to do what you feel, not what you need to do.
Project Artophilia pays a visit to artists from Łódź was produced thanks to the co-financing from Łódź city budget.