Polish-born Kasia Domanska’s hyperrealist images depict a colorful world of bright blue skies, flowers and bikinis. Plastik talked to the New York-based artist about fact and fiction, beauty and the things that move her …
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In the last few decades, it was mainly abstract and conceptual art that set the norm. Yet painting in general and hyperrealism in particular have made a strong comeback over the last decade. Why is that, you think?
“Fortunately, we live in a time where pluralism is becoming more common. This applies to art as well. Thanks to the media, and the universality of knowledge, we are able to compare different cultures, learn from history and draw the best conclusions. Freedom reigns. Everyone can choose something for him or herself and not cling on to some imposed form of expression. For me, adherence to standards and following something deemed fashionable, has always been a sign of lacking one’s own opinion, of being a sheep, which follows the herd regardless of the direction in which the herd is going. I believe, everyone should follow their own penchant. But of course, I do realize that some people need advisers, who tell them what they should like. From there come the "norms", which, of course, change over time.”
Some people believe fiction and reality are opposites like black and white. What do you think?
“I’d rather say they are like mutually complementary colors such as yellow and blue, which perfectly harmonize with each other. Without fiction, development would not be possible. Thanks to fiction, we are able to create a new reality. Reality is imagination born anew.”
Could you tell us a bit more about how you work?
“I retain nice moments or dreams that are associated with joy, harmony, beauty in the broadest sense of the word. It is the beauty of our thoughts and the power of our minds in creating reality. I play with reflections and simple associations, images related with care-free relaxation, full of harmony. I'm looking for places where I can capture the atmosphere and light, which is what I care about. Then I make hundreds of photos, which form a kind of sketchbook. I choose the ones that reflect the atmosphere that I want to convey. Sometimes I change the composition. Then I paint on canvas using the traditional technique of oil painting.”
Why paint if you can just take a photograph? Or, to put it differently, what does painting add to the image?
“Painting is something completely different than photography. It is unique and unrepeatable. Oil painting is a living work. It exudes a completely different energy than photography. It has the living aura of the artist who made it by hand. It is the subject of natural elements, as it is made of linseed oil, natural dyes, linen, etc. etc. Speaking in today's language it can be considered “eco.” In addition, an oil painting can survive for thousands years. Regarding photography, we cannot be so sure.”
In your latest Summer series, we enter a seemingly carefree world of sunshine, bright colors and beautiful people. And yet there is something cold and distant about these images. Could it be that under the happy shiny surface hides an element of loneliness? Does that reflect a certain world view?
“In the paintings the world has been presented from the position of the observer, who gives himself to contemplation, while around him unfolds a different scene, full of life. The calm of the situation allows for a carefree dipping in dreams, which is difficult in other circumstances, such as the rush of daily life. When we dream, it is always about just us and our thoughts, which can be a kind of loneliness. Yet such an interpretation belongs to everyone individually, because the only thing we can influence is the way we think.”
You paint a lot of natural elements, such as leaves, flowers, sky and water. Is there a special reason for that? Or you just love nature, which sounds like a perfectly good reason to me ...
“I just love nature. Without it, I cannot imagine life. Without contact with nature, I feel like I’m in prison. People strive for being in touch with nature. If they do not have it in abundance every day, they create it around themselves as a substitute to live in harmony. They want to be in contact with the elements. They create swimming pools, fountains, ornamental flowers in decorations. They build glass houses to see the sky and surround themselves with plants. Symbols of nature are everywhere.”
If tomorrow you could buy any three paintings in the world, while money and availability are not an issue, which ones would you acquire?
“The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli, but cleaned of the centuries-old, brown dirt. The original work has vivid and bright colors. Annunciation by Leonardo da Vinci and A Bigger Splash by David Hockney.”
Have you always wanted to be a painter?
“Yes, apart from a short episode, as a little girl, when I wanted to be a ballerina. I went to ballet school and danced in The Grand Theatre.”
If you were not a painter, what would you like to be?
“A scientist. To be able to create fascinating things and make life easier for people.”
What may we expect from Kasia Domanska in 2013?
“We will see.”
INTERVIEWED BY: PETER SPEETJENS