Short Artist Statement
Creating art is for Aleksandra Szewczuk a process of entering into herself, cleansing the mind and focusing on being here and now. For several years Szewczuk has practiced the therapeutic method of mindfulness, which she began, also used during the creative process. Szewczuk works are expressive abstractions of her inner life. The artist paint by scanning what happens at a certain time, not only inside herself, but also by recording everything from the outside world. Szewczuk realize that a man is built on his past and that it also influences what she record in her paintings. Painting is more for Szewczuk attempting to release the mind “from everything” that surrounds it, what is in it, what blocks it by listening to what is happening in the present moment. Thanks to this, art acts on Szewczuk therapeutically, while the recipient of her works has the opportunity to look inside himself through his reception at a given moment of his own reality.
Aleksandra Szewczuk is a Polish artist working in the current of abstract expressionist color field painting. Based in Sopot, Poland. Born in 1982 in Gdynia, graduated in 2008 as a Master of Visual Arts at the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdansk. One of the first graduate students in the studio of professor Jerzy Ostrogórski. Participates in national and foreign exhibitions. Her works belong to private collections in Warsaw, Cracow, Sopot, Poznań, New York, Sydney, Montreal, Dusseldorf, Stockholm, Rome, Lisboa, London and in the collections of the National Sate Gallery in Sopot.
Tworzenie obrazów jest dla mnie procesem wejścia w siebie, oczyszczenia umysłu i skupieniem się na byciu tu i teraz. Tworząc obraz daję się wchłonąć procesowi twórczemu. Podczas procesu twórczego stosuję metodę terapeutyczną Mindfullness. Moje prace są ekspresyjnymi abstrakcjami. Maluję skanując to co dzieje się w danym momencie nie tylko wewnątrz mnie, ale również rejestruję bodźce docierające do mnie ze świata zewnętrznego. Interesuje mnie wnętrze człowieka i zagrożenia jakie tworzy dla siebie, świata i innych. Mam świadomość tego, że człowiek jest zbudowany z różnych czasów jego życia. Malowanie jest dla mnie podejmowaniem prób wyzwalania umysłu ze wszystkiego co go osacza, co w nim jest, co go blokuje poprzez wsłuchanie się w to co dzieje się w obecnej chwili. Dzięki temu sztuka działa na mnie terapeutycznie. Odbiorca moich prac ma możliwość przyjrzenia się samemu sobie poprzez ich odbiór w danym momencie swojej własnej rzeczywistości.
Aleksandra Szewczuk, sopocka artystka działająca w nurcie abstrakcji ekspresjonistycznej colorfield painting. Urodzona w 1982 roku w Gdyni, absolwentka malarstwa z 2008 roku na gdańskiej ASP. Jedna z pierwszych dyplomantek w pracowni profesora Jerzego Ostrogórskiego. Bierze udział w wystawach w kraju i za granicą. Jej prace znajdują się w kolekcjach prywatnych między innymi w Warszawie, w Krakowie, Poznaniu, w Sopocie, Nowym Jorku, Sydney, Montréalu, w Düsseldorfie, Sztokholmie, Lizbonie, w Rzymie, w Londynie oraz w zbiorach Państwowej Galerii Sztuki w Sopocie.
The Limit(s) of Color.
The experience of color in the WORKS of Aleksandra Szewczuk
By definition, color is a sensation of the visual sense caused by electromagnetic radiation. In this sense, color is simply a physical phenomenon. But color also has its psychological significance. It is linked to direct human physiological activity, which in turn depends on temperament as well as on the momentary mood of homo sapiens. Warm and saturated colors not only improve the mood, but also have a motivating effect. Cool colors help with concentration, calm the passions – but they can also have a demotivating effect. Color is a structural and at the same time extremely emotional element of a painting. It has almost always been an element of extraordinary importance in art. It determined individuality, breakthrough, novelty, strength, uniqueness, revolution. On the one hand, it carried emotions, had hidden content, and was a symbol’ on the other hand, it was “only” an element that built the image.
Color has also always been utilitarian; it introduced a certain systematics to an image, testified to its aesthetics and at the same time connected its hidden meaning with its psychological function. It is color that often attracts, intrigues and does not let us forget. It is common to speak of the “strength and power” of color, of its “magic and charm”. Color can build up and at the same time practically annihilate an image. It has within it as much demiurgy as it does destructive element. It can be like a passion that allows you to be born but can also kill you. However, focusing on color in one’s work, “only” on the configuration of color structures, is still not only attractive, but above all extremely inspiring.
Aleksandra Szewczuk is an artist who has “bet” on color in her work. As she herself says, “I reject rules in order to create favourable conditions for myself, the only rule is that there are no rules”. “For me, painting is an attempt to liberate my mind ‘from everything’ that surrounds it, that is in it, that blocks it”. “I don’t think too much about what I’m going to create, I don’t design – I go into the picture with my whole self, here and now, putting everything else aside. My aim is color, composition and painting itself. As a result, art has a therapeutic effect on me”.
And that could pretty much be the end of the discussion. She herself perfectly defined what color is, not only in her art, but also in her life. It is a sincere declaration that clearly and precisely defines her art.
The artist loves color; she knows its creative and purifying power. But at the same time she has a respect for composition. It is these qualities that position her as a worthy continuator of Abstract Expressionism – color field painting. And she is really extremely convincing in this. Her color has a real impact also in the material sense, as she paints on raw, unprimed canvas. The color thus becomes even more perceptible, also in its haptic sense.
The painting of colorful planes is characterised by the calm construction of the canvas, where flat patches of color are intended to bring out another dimension of the emotional impact of color.
Aleksandra Szewczuk understands and feels this perfectly. She combines the spontaneity of her painting gesture with her belief in the power of inspiration from the subconscious. This is because she uses the technique of mindfulness in her creative process.
Her colors have the power of subtlety and compositional sophistication; they arise by themselves; they are autonomous entities in which only the here and now is important. She uses almost the entire color palette, avoids strong contrast, but is able to draw the boundaries of neighbouring colors brilliantly. There is a strange remembering in all this, a kind of painting to the limit, to the ultimate limit of color perception. There is a rejection of the outside world with its disturbing impulses, there is a rejection of the past, of life stories and disturbing questions about the future.
By “painting” the canvas with flat patches of color, the artist simultaneously gives them spatiality and allows the viewer the freedom not only of interpretation, but above all of feeling.
The therapeutic value of her canvases, which she emphasises, includes the free feelings of the viewer of her art. Everyone can “create” their own story of sensitivity to these colors. Everyone can immerse themselves in them, feel their literalness, their materiality. But everyone can also measure themselves by the feelings that the artist’s color structures evoke in them. There is strength combined with subtlety, the grace of color space with the unconditionality of the boundary between one color and another.
By painting her color fields, she does not tell any particular story; this experience of color seems intuitive, created here and now but nevertheless containing an aspect of spirit.
Colors have always meant something; they have always symbolised something. Even if attempts were made to strip them of content, the emotionality always remained. Aleksandra Szewczuk also understands and feels this perfectly. Her blues and cobalts are calming, eye-catching, and they allow the spirit to capture our imagination. Her reds (either just marked by a small patch or taking possession of the image) are intriguing and stimulating. Her greenery combined with grey brings respite and allows you to relax. Her purple smells a little melancholy. Her yellow activates, dynamises and prompts action.
The artist handles the meaning of color with great skill. This knowledge allows her to paint the canvas with impetus, expertise and astonishing skill. It is an intuitive passion, an almost magical submission to the power of color and its causality on canvas. And this is not easy at all, because the power of color can sometimes almost “kill” the structure of an image.
In the power of color, Aleksandra Szewczuk also boldly faces the “tradition” of color field painting. She “frees” color from the servile function of shapes, gives it independence and a kind of “immateriality”. In a way, she continues the tradition of the greatest artists in this movement – from Ad Reinhardt to the one and only Mark Rothko.
The artist conventionally sets color boundaries on her canvases. The asymmetry of colors does not jeopardise the balance of the composition and the sometimes translucent dark field even creates a glowing effect. Painted with firm but slow brushstrokes, they gain an air of transparency. It is an intuitive yet conscious and coloristically consistent composition of the space of paintings.
The colors in Aleksandra Szewczuk’s paintings have their own weight on the one hand (when they are firmly set in the space of the canvas, they “cut” its surface vertically or horizontally and try to mark the limits of their colorfulness) and on the other hand – sometimes they seem to be almost monochromatic planes of pure manifestation of light.
The artist creates her works in series. It is a conscious consequence of reaching the “bottom” of the meaning of pure color space. But she is not entirely constant in this continuity, as each of these canvases can live a life of its own. It is the color of each one that gives it the boundaries of its individual life and allows it to be treated individually.
Color field painting guru Mark Rothko believed that “a picture lives by companionship, expanding and quickening in the eyes of the sensitive observer. It dies by the same token. It is therefore risky to send it out into the world. How often it must be impaired by the eyes of the unfeeling and the cruelty of the impotent who could extend their affliction universally!”
So let us bravely experience the colors of Aleksandra Szewczuk’s paintings but let us look at them with a sensitive eye, an open heart and a wise soul. Let these colors delight us with their tangibility and at the same time teach us respect and a wise distance from the stories told in the paintings. Let them allow us to experience the magic of a color symbol and at the same time “sink” into the obviousness of the color structures. May they be a respite and contemplation for us. Let these colorful fields completely fill our field of vision. Let them make us reach out and immerse ourselves in the materiality of immaterial color. Let them emit their colorful light, which we will carry under our eyelids for a long time to come.
Selected Group Exhibitions:
2022 „Battements” group exhibition with Andre Fournelle and Artbeats Artists Collective, CNE Quebec, Canada
2020 Final Exhibition of The Nationwide Competition named by Leon Wyczółkowski, BWA Bydgoszcz (catalog)
2019 Final XIII Triennial of Small Painting Forms in Toruń (catalog)
2019 Final III Pomeranian Art Triennial, State Gallery in Sopot (catalog)
2008 „Diplomas”, Akademia Sztuk Pięknych, Gdańsk (catalog)
2008 „3 ARTS” Park Technologiczny, Gdynia
2006 „Art Picnic”, Oliwa, Gdańsk
2005 „Scenography and Spatial Forms”, Pałac Opatów, Gdańsk (catalog)
2022 „Battements” group exhibition with Andre Fournelle, Baku, Karine Demers, MAJ Fortier, Malgosia Bajkowska, Mathieu Laca, Miville et Sebastian Gaudette, art curator Antoine Veilleux
Selected Solo Exhibitions:
2022 I am, I feel, I see, Duo Exhibition with Maria Krupa at El Gallery, Elbląg
2022 „Borders”, State Gallery (PGS), Sopot (catalog)
2021 COSMA Gallery, Sopot
2020 „Nice Destruction”, ŻAK Gallery, Gdańsk
2019 „I am, I feel, I see” – Hair Bazaar Studio, Poznań
2019 Circle of Everything, Sopot, Dwie Zmiany
2018 „Infiltration”, Pracownia Galeria KIT, Sopot
2017 „Objects and Paintings” Sztuka Wyboru, Gdańsk
2010 „Mamalowanie”, Gdańsk
Scholarships, Prizes and other Projects
2022 Art Scholarship of Mayor of Sopot Jacek Karnowski
2022 Art Scholarship ZAIKS
2020 Gdynia Falochron Kultury for the project „Prints from Art”
2019 Illustrations for animated films for the Polish Ecological Club
2017 Illustrations for 3 animated films for the Plastic Free Baltic project
2013 Art Scholarship of the Mayor of Sopot Jacek Karnowski
2012 Honorable mentions at the National Art Contest by Jeremy Przybora
2011 Drawings to interactive installation How to educate a ruler by Piotr Wyrzykowski based on the „The 48 Laws of Power” by Robert Greene
2010 Stage design & Costumes for the performance SOLARIS for Malta Festival
2008 Illustrations for an animated film titled “Walk to the Library” for WiMBP in Gdansk made together with Łukasz Kaczmarek
2008 Diploma in painting „Ekrany Pustki” defense in the studio of professor Jerzy Ostrogórski – Master Degree
2009 Costumes design collaboration for the film „Polonia Sopot”
2006 Costumes design with Katarzyna Zawistowska to performance „Piaskownica”, Teatr Wybrzeże
2006 Participation in the Master Workshops of Zofia de Ines as part of the Festival „Events”, Tczew
2021-2022 Illustrator and cartoon workshops for children in the city library Koc I book WiMBP in Sopot
2022 Author’s painting workshops under the title I create carried out with the Museum of the City of Sopot and the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage with young people from the Special School No. 5 in Sopot
2021 Workshops of the State Art Gallery in Sopot
2020 Assistant to Józef Wilkoń during his workshops for children at the Fathers and Children Festival
2016-2020 Repeated participation in the Literary Standby, a nationwide action promoting reading among children organised throughout Poland by the Czas Dzieci foundation
Workshops of the State Art Gallery in Sopot
Author’s illustrator workshop at the Sopot Literary Festival
Author’s workshop at the Progesteron Festival
Christmas workshops for the City of Sopot
Illustrator workshops for the popular bookshop Ambelucja in Sopot
Workshops for Zakamarki publishing house
Workshops for the Museum of the City of Sopot
Workshops for the State Art Gallery in Sopot