At the end of your artist statement, you write about your work “Those reassuring, peaceful scenes serve as a protective barrier from escalating cruelty around the world and a visibly growing lack of empathy in society.” Do you believe that, besides being a protective barrier, paintings and art in general can actually bring healing to the world and even change it?

Visual arts can bring healing and understanding of some severe issues worldwide. Art is our language to express them and give tools to the viewers to acknowledge what has to be changed. An excellent example is an art by the fantastic contemporary painter Kehinde Wiley. His large portraits of young black men, his models found in urban landscapes worldwide – such as Mumbai, Senegal, Dakar and Rio de Janeiro give them power by capturing them in poses of heroes. The artist is not afraid to point out a complicated socio-political history relevant to the world. Wiley’s figurative paintings and sculptures “quote historical sources and position young black men within the field of power.” His contemporary portraits bring complex issues that many would prefer not to acknowledge.

Only some artists talk about political and social issues. Still, the artists can show what is essential in life even by creating peaceful, dreamlike scenes inspired by our friends or our experiences and memories. For me, they are other people, love, friendship, kindness, and empathy.

Lovers, 2021
Oil on canvas, 100 x 100 cm

Besides Visual Arts, you also studied art education and worked as an art tutor. Could you tell me a bit more about that?

I run art classes specifically for adults who wish to learn about painting techniques or practice their skills. I like to work with people individually. Every person has different needs in the creative process and often has to develop their own rhythm and style. My two groups are adults, mostly women, who treat painting classes as art therapy. Some of them are beginners, but most have been attending and exploring watercolour and other techniques with me for about 5-6 years. Few more advanced artists like to practice and enjoy the social aspect of the classes, which is very important. During those sessions, I give them valuable tips and advice regarding painting techniques and their unique style development.

My approach is to make them feel appreciated; I listen to what they say and encourage them to challenge themselves. We build a relationship and trust, and we discuss their problems and challenges while painting. I organise exhibitions for my groups in local places like community centres, hubs and cafes twice a year. On this occasion, they feel special, and their art is appreciated by the local community. It makes me so happy to see them relaxed and fulfilled.

Now, let’s talk about your most recent series “My Paradise”.

In the recent series My Paradise, I explore leisure, self-awareness, ease, and relationship between two people representing diverse backgrounds and cultures. Often they are couples like those captured in ‘Under the Blue Sky’ painting, a young Greek woman and her boyfriend, an English black man, who sometimes are challenged as a mixed-race couple. Or a Polish woman and her English -Jamaican husband from ‘Together’ painting who shared their stories about raising their two boys and adapting to both cultures. In the painting ‘Serene’, I portray a gay couple lucky to be accepted by their families and society. As a sister to my twin, who is a lesbian is not always the case.

Those people are my inspiration, and I want to capture their most accurate portrait through my paintings’ colours and composition.

Together, 2022
Oil on canvas, 100 x 100 cm
In Garden of Eden, 2022
Oil on canvas, 100 x 100 cm

In those new paintings, I also convey a stillness. A moment where the subjects are simply being and free of responsibility. However, this sits in contrast to the bright, energetic palette. I want the viewer to be drawn in by the often dynamic compositions, the lure of the colours and then notice the stillness set within that.

Any advice for emerging artists that you’d like to share?

Listen to yourself and trust your intuition. Believe in your skills, be honest with yourself, experiment and have fun while making art. When you discover this particular subject or technique that will help you express your feelings and emotions and make you feel happy, explore it even more. Be consistent in your language, but find ways to learn more and evolve. Refrain from comparing your art to other established artists – everyone is different, and there is no mistake or wrong approach in the creative process.

In Red, 2022
Oil on canvas, 120 x 100 cm

Any emerging artists you’d like to recommend?

I would like to recommend my friends: Ted Wong, an abstract artist  from San Francisco, Celin Ali, artist from London, Gisella Stapleton, Daniel Freaker, and Tim Fowler, UK based contemporary figurative painter.

What are your hopes for the future?

Like many other artists, my hopes for the future are to connect with established art galleries to exhibit more in different countries and gain some recognition from art collectors and dealers. Of course, I also have a list of my favourite galleries here in London, and I would like to showcase my work with them. First, I will build up my achievements and exhibit new paintings at the more critical Art Fairs and in other European cities like Paris or Berlin. My biggest goal is to exhibit in New York. I’ve never been there and would love to visit this fabulous big city. Most importantly to experience my solo show in the USA.

Joanna Pilarczyk in her studio in London, UK

Artwork Photographs courtesy of Joanna Pilarczyk / Written by Joanna Pilarczyk & Nina Seidel / Edited by Nina Seidel
© Copyright 2022 Suboart Magazine. All rights reserved.


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