Interview with Mateusz Twardoch
Mateusz Twardoch was born in 1987, and a majority of his artistic activity is based in Warsaw, Poland. Through his dreams and symbols he goes from very personal feelings to a complete piece of work.
Could you please introduce yourself and tell us how you started in the arts? and your first experience in art making?
With a musician, as a father, and a make-up artist as a mother, art was always a close friend in our home. However, in this case, the most important person, was my grandfather - painter, illustrator, and a great mind. He ignited the spark of creativity in me, taught fundamentals of drawing and basics of perceiving the world, as a place full of colors and shapes. Very quickly I fell in love with greek mythology, which was very amplifying. Thanks to this reading, I learned that every good story leaves you with some knowledge at the end. I took art lessons in a local community centre at the age of 10 or 11. I did an enormous amount of drawings and pastels, picturing still life and geometric sculptures. Now I would consider it to be my first experience in art making, but back then it was a constant struggle, inner fight between boredom and joy, hard lessons of patience and first impulses of pride. Still have some of those works.
How would you describe yourself and your artwork?
I think I’m just a guy, flesh and bones, with a mind connected with my work. It's kind of a paradox, because I’m truly not important in here as a person, I’m a mean needed for a creation of other worlds, for other people, to make them stop for a second, and think about their thrills, longings, wishes and fears. And that’s what makes me, or rather my life, important in my eyes. We are two, but one, an engine, and a facade. It’s a bit pompous statement, but it makes the fear of dying lesser.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
It started with dreams and my fascination with surrealism. The idea of composing unreal things using everyday, familiar components, in unfamiliar and bizzare way. Same passion goes with symbols and their connection with a subconsciousness, how they are a result of common associations in our minds. In my perspective you can relate both, dreams and symbols, with magic, or with psychoanalysis, and this undefined balance brings a narrative tension I care about. There are, of course, many other things, like my fears, emotions, reactions to beauty, or to pop culture. Inspiration is such an ephemeral, and elusive, but also powerful thing, that it may come from everything. Once, I saw a sick, bald bear, and I thought “how unexpectedly terrifying creature, like not from this world”, and that was it. I just had to create the right composition for it. Other time it was the right flexure of a body, or brilliant song heard under a neon light. Out of nowhere you feel, like you are in love, and you try to hold on on that feeling, build a construct of your vision on it.
What emotions do you hope the viewers experience when looking at your art?
All of them. The truth is, I don’t hope for specific emotions. I like to think of my artworks as a guidelines, or a kind of a guideposts. You can look at them, and think they’re dark or depressing, where somebody else will see peace and tranquility. My friend once told me, he came to my exhibition, and left after few minutes, because he felt uneasy to the point he couldn’t stand it. And I don’t think it’s something bad. I believe he came to art exhibition to feel something, and he did. Maybe after that he asked himself why he felt how he felt. But this is his experience, and his alone. I’m driven by emotions when I paint, of course, but those impulses are mine and for me, to begin with some story. It’s very likely the viewers will feel the same, or at least they’ll stay in the same aura, but more and more often, I’m surprised with
unique receptions, a way different then my intention. And once again, I’m perfectly fine with that. It’s my goal to be honest. Symbols and shapes, are never exact, but there is high chance we’ll receive them in similar way. But not always, and those differences are the beauty of the whole thing. It’s like a Rorschach test, but in here I tell you about myself to hear more about you.
When do you know that an artwork is finished ?
When I push myself to the point, where I can’t look at it in the evening, and I don’t want to change anything in it in the morning.
What has been the most exciting moment in your art career so far?
My last painting. Being serious, I know it’s not exactly a “moment”, but a whole last year was pretty exciting. I co-worked with great people, finished very important series after three years of work, and organised an exhibition of it. But to be honest, I hope the most exciting moment in my art career is somewhere ahead, and if I’m lucky, it’ll be there until I’m dead.
How long does it take to produce one work?
It depends. What do you call a production process, how do you define it? If you think about first thought about a painting, this base, inspiration, as a beginning, it can grow for years or for minutes. After that, when it’s complete in the head, there is time for research, looking for related to it side-inspirations, materials, frequently conversations with a model, taking sketches for a composition. That also can take from one evening to couple of months. But when everything is on set, it takes averagely something like 50 hours of pure painting.
What exciting projects are you working on right now? Can you share some of the future plans for your artworks?
Now I’m focusing on some private commissions, but after that I want to start new series, dedicated to one, amazing model. Just to trace a direction I want to go with it, I can say, I think and research a lot about mythological transformations, inner beauty and beasts we fight.
Do you have any upcoming events or exhibitions we should know about?
Everything is leading to that, I’ll exhibit my work in New York next year. I’ll also gladly take part in pop culture festivals in here, Poland, where I was invited for couple of last years. But right now, all I want is to focus on my work, try to reach a new level.