An interview with the artist Katarzyna Przezwanska.
Born in 1984, lives and works in Warsaw. She studied Painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. In her artistic practice, she often refers to nature and architecture. She combines both of these fields in an effort to improve the quality of human life, trying to make art useful.
She is inspired by both vernacular architecture and the 20th-century classics as well as geological phenomena and vegetative processes.
Przezwańska is the author of architectural interventions, installations, and paintings, where she often uses natural materials: rocks, minerals, and plants.
Untitled, 2017 ostrich egg, chameleon nail powder, lacquer, metal, wood for Robert Świerczyńsk
Untitled, 2017 chicken egg, acrylic, nail polish, lacquer, holographic nail powder for Robert Świerczyński
What was your path in life?
I was born and grew up in Warsaw.
I got into the painting department on Fine Art Academy in Warsaw and after a while, it disappointed me badly. After the third year of studying, I was so depressed with it, that I decided to move to London with my boyfriend with no specific plan. I was working as an usher in the theatre and doing some graphic design internship.
After nine months we earned a lot of money and we went traveling for 3 months. It was a great trip, during which I’ve seen a lot (for instance we were following Le Corbusier buildings like some crazy psycho fans) and it was probably the most influential part of my education. After that, I came back to Warsaw and decided to finish studies. I was also thinking of studying architecture. But then it turned up that most things that I want, I can do within the „art area” anyway, so I stayed in there.
What is your art mainly about?
I have several paths in my work: I work in large scale in public space and in the same time I work in very small scale with sculptures, which may seem not so consistent at first glance.
But it is all the same and is connected by themes like vitality, color (also as something neglected in high culture), nature, human touch, sensuality, usefulness, being constructive instead of critical.
I like my works to be simple, straightforward and as little hermetic as possible, understandable also for people outside the art world. Even that they have the theoretical background, in its reception I want them to be also sensual, immediate, non-intellectual.
What’s your relationship to nature in what you create?
It’s something that is present all around and is at hand - there are stones lying on the streets, or some buildings are made of them, or in the backyard garden of my flat, there are wine tendrils grasping things, or eggs in the kitchen. Or recently I was using beans. Or things I’ve found on holiday. So those are things from my surrounding. Why would I sculpt something when I can find it being perfect and almost ready? When it comes to working with color I also often use „quotation” from places when I felt good – like being by the river or in the forest. It’s the same with raw, „real” materials, like rocks.
The theoretical approach to it is also important. That for example brought me to make the work called „Early Polishness” which was my kind of diorama and was a recreation of a tropical landscape of Warsaw as it was 200 million years ago (made in collaboration with paleobotanist from Warsaw University). It was also my kind of answer to the political situation in Poland and the rise of the national right-wing movement and use of Polish signs and emblems.
And what do your eggs stand for?
I work with artificiality mostly to emphasize the natural features of an object.
How do you work with space before integrating your art with it?
It depends on work and on space. Initially, I was working often with space itself. At the moment, I’m working more with independent objects, where it’s not important that much. I’m not a huge fan of white cube space, so I like to highlight an object by putting it on a color background. Or bring wood or stone.
And your stones? Do they represent something in your life?
With stones it’s similar like with eggs – they’re very basic. It’s a simple, common, cheap, easily available and attractive thing, straight from the Earth. I think humans
have an atavistic attraction for stones. I like to imagine how stone was something that was alive once, and what it was going through for the span of million years. They are here much much longer then I am, so it brings a good perspective. And I like to think that one day I will become one.
And the one who makes your heart beat faster?
My dog Lufka. Every day in the morning. I like to watch her when I give her food and she’s eating everything so fast, that she’s shaking. Then I know everything is fine. but I guess it doesn’t make my heart beat faster, but slower – it makes me happy.
A movie, a song, a piece of art.
It changes all the time, I get stuck on songs. On movies not so much, but I did have a favorite one – it was „The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” by Jacques Demy. (I have a weakness for musicals as a genre).
What do you carry always with you to keep the bad energy away?
There’s no such thing. Or maybe painted nails.
Can you leave us with the last thing you saw which blew your mind?
A lot of things blow my mind. Recently I was working with crab claws – preparing it to use it in sculpture and I loved it’s a mechanism.
Untitled, 2016 eggs, polyurethane, woodfort Robert Głowacki
Untitled, 2016 eggs, polyurethane, wood for Robert Głowack