The Aesthetica Art Prize celebrates the work of emerging and established artists from around the world, championing excellence in art across a range of media. Olga Woszczyna was longlisted with her work Entity III, which is influenced by contemporary architecture and goldsmithing. She is inspired by cities with their variety of cultural and design influences and the art of jewellery. We speak to Woszczyna about her practice.
A: You studied animation at post-graduate level. What inspired you to integrate natural elements into your work?
OW: In my authorial animated film, Meteoria, I confronted fragments of cosmological text with abstract painting and experiments with matter and texture under camera. Also when using 3D digital media, I was drawn, in particular, to the potential of combing freely textures within a virtual model, which are hardly compatible in real life. For that purpose I photographed metal, rust, concrete, stone but also wood, dust, lichen, mud, along with other, original, surfaces. It finally, turned into an art practice itself. The Entity series, the collage of gold and wood, to some extent, is derived from that habit of collecting the tangible and unique material.
A: As you work with natural materials in your practice, how do you strike the balance between using the natural items and placing them within the man-made, social construct of a gallery?
OW: I search for natural items of exceptional feel, a roughness and cosiness at the same time. I trap them in painting and photography. Within that ‘still’ and ‘flat’ image, I compress the thought. A sense of distance is created, the lighting and their condition will stay as they are. I like the idea of bringing another reality inside a space. I am interested how one’s mind switches from one sensation to another. An essence of the forest in gallery interior gives the concentration on the matter and strong resonance.
A: How has being longlisted in the Aesthetica Art Prize supported your career, and how has your work developed since?
OW: It has been a levelling up experience, and I am very happy to have had that opportunity to share my work with a wider audience. I appreciate the elegant style of Asthetica, which immediately sets the work within a good context. I think that being longlisted may as well help my practice in general to be noticed more. Since then I have been continuing concepts concerning the fabric of the forest, but what is mostly being developed at the studio now, is on the opposite polar: a medium scale and larger format of oil on canvas, a series of cityscapes. I paint places I have visited, fragments of cities that are charged for me with a distinct atmosphere.
A: Your practice draws heavily on the art of goldsmithing. What is it about this discipline that inspired you?
OW: I appreciate the amount of detail and precision that is usually accumulated within that small physical element, the quality of the material, the idea of personal, wearable and desirable item. I had an occasion to learn some basics of the craft being only for a short time in the private goldsmiths studio of Marek Nieniewski. I am particularly influenced by the Polish artistic jewellery of a few years ago: the stunning approach in combining the precious with the rough. It was a revelation to me and had a meaning beyond the material itself.
A: Entity III, juxtaposes sharp and rugged forms against a smooth and sinuous golden background; how did you decide on the composition of the piece, and what message do you wish to send to the viewer?
OW: I found an extremely attractive shape when I was walking in the forest. I was totally enchanted by the view, it was created by natural destructive forces, and the result had been frozen in time. The smooth background of the painting was primarily to allow the sight to calm, and focus on the timber. Choosing metal was influenced by practices seen in architecture and goldsmithing, though it came to me intuitively and immediately.
Entity series was made in a distinct time for myself. It is an intimate, and existential piece. There is a tension of contradiction, a sense of holiness and misery in it. When I gained some distance to my work I noticed the gold looks ancient and painted over wood. Instead of modern design, wood and gold here became more from an ancient temple. I realised it referred to an icon in fact. Unpredicted, but, very special then, was to see this ‘icon’ screened at Aesthetica Prize exhibition, in the York’s medieval church.
The Aesthetica Art Prize is currently open for entries. To enter, visit www.aestheticamagazine.com/art-prize
1. Olga Woszczyna, Entity III