Karina Brzostowski

Well travelled artist Karina Brzostowski’s latest series ‘Secret Garden’ is an introspective project that captures her relationship with her surroundings during lockdown. Karina has intuitively pushed boundaries to paint how she sees things through the lens of her emotions. She enjoys traveling, listening to music while she paints, visiting galleries and museums and hopes to create a physical space which allows her to keep on experimenting.

Where are you from and when did you start your art practice?

When I was three years old my family and I escaped communist Poland after receiving political asylum in France.  It was there, in 2001, that I completed my studies and finalized my art degree. Being without proper roots, I developed a joy for traveling, so after living in the UK for many years I decided to relocate to Dubai where I now live with my partner.

I started my art practice pretty early! I remember when I was seven years old, I had a sketchbook where I would draw my favorite cartoon heroes. It was a little treasure for me. As a teenager, I used to do life drawings of my friends. My love for art became more serious in high school, where I decided to enroll for art lessons and history of art. I was definitely hooked!

How do you describe your vision for your work?

My work tends to capture a moment in time, a place, a feeling or a memory. It also reflects the relationship I have with myself and my surroundings. A theme central to my work is the idea of perception which is heavily influenced by expectations, experiences and moods. How I feel affects what I see and as a consequence what and how I paint.

At the moment, I am working on my Secret Gardens project. It’s a personal response to the lockdown.

Secret Garden with Mirror, acrylic on canvas, 50.8 x 61 cm
What are your artistic/creative inspirations?

I can’t work without music, it’s the fuel that keeps me going and allows me to lose track of time. It puts me in a bubble, in a kind of meditative state that encourages me to take risks and follow the flow.

My travels also really inspire me as it’s the change that really can push me out of my comfort zone and bring me closer to life, show me more diversity and open up different horizons.  It triggers ideas and gives me this urge to express them on a canvas.

I often visit museums like the Georges Pompidou in Paris and Tate Modern in London.

It’s like a pilgrimage to me, I need to physically see the masterpieces. It’s a whole experience where I can react and feel the paintings. 

Secret Garden 3, acrylic on paper, 45.7 x 61 cm
Tell me about your process.

Nowadays I take my own reference photographs. These are usually of places or things that I find inspiring. I search for composition, lines, contrasts, diversity in shapes. Very often, the pictures I take aren’t necessarily good photographs but they are just meant to be a starting point, a support that I transform afterwards in the painting. I also do colour studies but it’s very often intuitive depending of my mood! After selecting one of my pictures, I start sketching roughly on the canvas with charcoal before applying paint.

I treat it nearly like a puzzle trying to find the best combination to express my feelings. It’s a projection but also a search for harmony in a painting.

Secret Garden 4, acrylics on paper, 45.7 x 61 cm

Do you think your work has a message? How is it received?

When creating my Secret Garden series, it was lockdown. I used bright and unusual colors as a way to force the viewer to look more intently and rediscover places differently. It became a call to open up, become more aware of our environment and how we interpret our surroundings. I wanted to make what is around us more visible, more blissful, to keep us positive and hopeful regarding the future.

The idea of Secret Garden was also related to what happens in our dreams, our creativity and to the hidden sides of our psyche. It’s a place of our inhibitions and secrets, a personal landscape that we all have. The lockdown was a good time to look inside and get closer to our inner selves.

These works can be seen as a hymn to my own femininity as a female painter and a way to connect with the outside world to make my experience visible.

This project has been received very positively so far and with increasing exposure. It’s really motivating and always pleasantly surprising to see people connecting with my work.

Secret Garden 5, acrylic on paper, 45.7 x 61 cm

What do you like about the artistic community of today? What do you dislike?

At university I was part of a group of artists which I miss greatly. The artist’s life can be quite isolating so it’s important for me to share ideas and opinions with fellow artistic friends. I find that sharing my thoughts and ideas helps to make them grow and multiply! My dream would have been to live during the Paris School or the New York School when artists were meeting in cafés to exchange ideas about their art. 

Nowadays, even more with the pandemic, the web is a fantastic way to connect with people and an art platform like Frontrunner helps hugely to create contacts and share artistic projects. 

What is safe and/or dangerous in terms of experimentation?

Experimentation is key. This is where creativity lies. The unknown, the happy accidents, the mistakes are all part of the process. I am quite instinctive, and I like to follow my gut feeling. However, it can be hard to know when a painting is finished, so I often put it aside for a while before taking any other step. After a few hours or days, I usually make up my mind!

What is one lesson you’ve learned in your artistic career that you would pass on to an artist who is just starting out?

Just paint, paint, paint! When I practice, ideas are popping in and it makes me more obsessed about it. I even dream about paintings!

“Push” is some advice I received from a theater teacher years ago. It can apply to all arts. You can “push’’ an idea, to make it more different, more visible and more unique. It’s about developing something to its maximum and make it more present.

Secret Garden 6, acrylics on canvas, 50.8 x 61 cm

Where would you like to see your work in 3 years? What goals do you have for your practice?

A lot of positive things have happened in recent months and I am really excited about the progression in my practice. Long may it continue!

I want to feel more confident about my capabilities as a painter and create bigger, grander pieces.  It would be a dream to work in a studio of my own design so I could experiment more and keep developing my art. 

Are there other emerging artists you can recommend?

I love the works from Katarina Janeckova, Rusudan Khizanishvili, Charoula Nikolaidou, or Daisy Parris.

FRONTRUNNER social site: @karina
Website: https://www.saatchiart.com/karinabrzostowski
Instagram: @mademoiselle.karina.b

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