Interview with Laura La Wasilewska

This month we asked young Polish artist Laura La Wasilewska a few questions about her work as a painter in times when contemporary art defines itself beyond this classical media. Or as the artist herself says: "I have no doubts and worries. Some years ago my family was warning me against the lack of interest, and some part of the artistic surrounding was observing me with disbelief whether anybody could be interested in my art, let alone buy my paintings. Today my works are in private collections of famous people in Poland."

What makes you excited about a topic?

I am keen on meeting new people and emotions, which I love to include in my pictures and drawings. I build relationships with people, which helps me to discover their true personality and their unique faces. Every one of my models is different and exceptional. For me as an artist it means I keep high standards. Painting portraits I try to enter people's insides and souls, find out what they hide not only from the world around them but also from themselves. While I am painting the portrait the brain of the person just being painted is in fact my brain. Both worlds are confronted the very moment the portrait is shown. Then I am happy when this particular experience causes positive surprise on both sides. The person being painted and the artists have the chance to touch immortality due to the piece of art, “Non omnis moriar,” as Horace said.

Do you have any inspiring role models?

I find installations, video­ art, and other types of modern art funny, they make me laugh. They are like games in which I, as a viewer, feel like one of the pawns. When I cannot find stimuli in them any more, when I get impatient, I just quit. I am really sure the relation between different epochs is crucial, and that is why I respect the old type of art. If there had been no yesterday, there would be no today. I love traditional art and it is the source of my inspiration. Old pictures are authentic, they hide mystery and present real emotions. Old pictures are universal and, that is why, might be a mirror for us. It is so even though we live in the world of computers and internet. Yet emotions are the same all the time. It also might be said about human relations, which are based on jealousy, sincerity, lying, love and trust. And this is art itself that serves as a metaphor for the human attitudes, no matter what epoch.

What made you want to become an artist?

I was ten years old when I was fascinated by the history of art. I was reading artists biographies, monographs. I was visiting art galleries, museums, auction houses. I was drawing a lot. I think I might have been born with a pencil in my hand, as my grandparents and parents are talented. Yet, whether to be an artist or not it was my own decision.

I am the only one in my family who graduated from art school, namely from the European Art Academy in Warsaw in 2010, the Painting Department run by Professor Antoni Fałat together with the extra specialization in drawing with Professor Barbara Szubińska. I achieved an MA degree with Izabela Galicka, PhD, as a degree advisor. I was also studying under the direction of Professor Franciszek Starowieyski and Professor Wiktor Zin.

I am aware of the long way in front of me, the final shape of my work, the way from my idea till the signature on the picture is a very complicated process. When you are an artist you have to rely on your personal discipline, on the discipline of your emotions. It teaches you humility, but at the same time, it is the madness of being somewhere between reality and mysticism which are in the process of creating. I feel I am privileged, yet in some difficult moments the burden is difficult to describe.

When was the last time that your artistic view has changed?

Obviously I am prone to changes, but they are evolutionary, not revolutionary. New tasks stimulate me in a natural way to change and be more aware while I am taking part in the process of creating.

What is your favourite media?

Drawing­ pastel on gray paper, a feather, ink on paper. Drawing is the base for all my artistic activities and projects. It is an integral part of a picture. A line, together with a colourful stain, describes emotions, identifies details, gives a place for understatements. No wonder, a piece of art is mysterious.

How do online platforms influence the way you expose your work?

Surely Tumblr. Some years ago it was replaced by Facebook. I advertise all my individual and collective exhibitions, projects on my fun page called Laura La Wasilewska. There I also publish my interviews to journals which deal with art, I inform about radio broadcasts and TV programs in which I take part. I have to admit that due to internet sites more and more people are interested in my work. I receive a lot of mail from people I do not know who want to be in touch with me as they like my painting.

What are your current fascinations?

I am always interested in a human being... I feel the hunger to know more, to meet the most important which, I am sure, is to come in future. It will not happen by chance. I have to work on new projects, I have to work to improve myself, to achieve harmony in life and art. I am looking for simple truths about life. I also think we should every day prove that we are just good people. I have this feeling of unknown fascinations sleeping in me and waiting for a proper moment to flourish. I am not sure whether it will be a slow ripening or will be awoken by a sudden impulse. We are different every day, we do not know ourselves well.

I have just received an invitation to take part in the collective exhibition “12 Islands Lucky” (CNAP Galeria de Arte, by invitation artist and art curator Mariola Landowska) in Lisbon. What's more, my staying there will be sponsored... I am very interested what results my staying will bring. New fascinations...?!

What are you passionate about besides your artistic work?

Yes. I am interested in writing reviews, observing the art market in Poland and all over the world. I like being an art curator. I like organizing and initiating artistic projects with people from different backgrounds, like photographers, writers, composers or restorers.

What was the best advice you have ever given to others?

You should accept yourself, you should live in agreement with yourself, love the world, create with passion. Then you will find your way to people who will understand your art.