Interview

“Men playing war on a carpet” In conversation with the painter Anna GrzymałaHer figurative painting is based on classic compositions. However, the figures which she portrays in her paintings possess contemporary attributes.

Anna Grzymała is a fifth-year student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, studying under prof. Jarosław Modzelewski and working on her graduate art project under the tutelage of prof. Jan Mioduszewski. Grzymała is a member of an art group Dwie Osoby and her works were exhibited, for instance, in Karrot, Państwomiasto, Hydrozagadka and Kaplica Gallery. The editors of Contemporary Lynx recognized her artistic practice in the competition Nowy Obraz/ Nowe Spojrzenie organized by Magdalena Abakanowicz University of the Arts in Poznań. In the same competition, the artist was awarded special prizes by the editors of NN6T and the company Royal Talents. Recently, she’s been also announced a winner of the prestigious Hestia Artistic Journey Competition.

Anna Grzymała
Anna Grzymała

Grzymała’s figurative painting is based on classic compositions known from art history. However, the figures which she portrays in her paintings possess contemporary attributes. Her works touch upon current events. A good example would be the piece titled “Mężczyźni bawią się w wojnę na dywanie” (“Men playing war on a carpet”) that offers an astute commentary on today’s world and emerging fundamentalist movements. The characters are bulky, ungainly, barely fitting into the frame. In another of her paintings “W Krainie” (“In a Land”), we can view the loathed policemen battering the creatures of a fairyland. Her painting could be described as oneiric realism or magical documentary. Grzymała takes notice of the absurd of contemporary world, portraying its most pressing issues in a poetic manner and through her unique repertoire of symbols.

Sylwia Krasoń: What has changed in your life after you received all these awards? 

Anna Grzymała: I think I felt appreciated and gained more confidence as an artist. I’m under the impression that I’m becoming a part of the art world, which is terribly exciting. As a result, more and more opportunities come my way.

SK: Can you recall the moment you knew you wanted to be an artist?

AG: I can’t really remember the exact moment. It’s not like I made a conscious decision to become an artist. It’s all very fluid. I still have no idea who I want to be when I grow up. When I was little, I went to art classes, but it was never my greatest passion. I started drawing and painting quite late, even attended a course to prepare for entrance exams at the academy. The choice was rather random. I realized how much I enjoyed making art only when I was working on my portfolio.

Dwie Osoby, Endless Fun
Dwie Osoby, Endless Fun

SK: How did you start your journey at the art academy? Why did you decide to study art?

AG: I made a decision based on intuition. It was very late when I made up my mind to take entrance exams for painting. At some point, the push came to shove and it was either that or a nursing school. I was sure I wasn’t going to get accepted at the Academy of Fine Arts. When I found out that I did get in, I was so happy and surprised that I didn’t even check the results at the Medical University of Warsaw (WUM).

SK: You practice easel painting, opting for large-scale canvas. What made you choose this traditional art medium in the age when new media, video and performance enjoy such an immense popularity among young artists?

AG: I make the type of art I love looking at myself. Viewing paintings at exhibitions is my favorite artistic experience because it always moves and inspires me the most. So, naturally, doing paintings myself brings me great delight every single time. It’s an amazing experience. I embraced this medium since I find it the most interesting and pleasurable.

SK: Your figurative paintings are based on classic compositions known from art history, and yet, the portrayed characters tell stories about contemporary events. What kind of message do you wish to convey in your art?

AG: My painting could be described as oneiric realism or magical documentary. I observe the problems faced by today’s world and portray. In my opinion, its most pressing issues in a symbolic and poetic fashion. Currently, I’m working on a collection of illustrated modern fables that highlights the eeriness, irrationality and ludicrousness of our experience. Through this work, I want to show viewers that maybe it doesn’t have to be that way and immerse them in the poetic fantasy world of symbols and paintings. I wish to give them a bit of a fright, point out the problems, violence, all dark and scary yet fascinating aspects of our reality, even to inspire them to make the world a better place, and, last but not least, to give them hope that everything is going to be alright, which I feel is what we all need.

Anna Grzymała, Playing at War
Anna Grzymała, Men playing war on a carpet

SK: You’re also a member of the art duo Dwie Osoby (Two Persons). Could you please tell us something more about this joint project?

AG: The origin of Dwie Osoby goes back to the strict lockdown in Spain. My friend, Julia Woronowicz, was supposed to visit me for a week, but in the end we both got stuck in a small town for three months due to the twists and turns more or less related the coronavirus outbreak. We could all barely leave the house. Drawing and painting together was our way of coping with an uncertain situation outside our window. We did everything together, so, at some point, we also started sharing canvases and doing paintings. We spoke a lot about competition in the art world, fierce protection of one’s ideas so they don’t get stolen, about radically individual approach to art practice instilled in students of the academy. It turned out that we can create some amazing things while sharing inspirations, thoughts and experiences, and each of us grows and learns much more than she ever could if she was working alone.

SK: Do you have any advice for young people who want to study art at the academy?

AG:

First of all, I want to tell them to filter out the professors’ feedback, don’t let it bother them too much. They also should never lose sight of their own individual style and sensibility regardless of what they’re going to hear.

What else? One of the coolest things at the fine arts academy is the fact that you have access to professional studios at all departments, so you should take advantage of that and develop a variety of skills.

SK: Who are your favorite artists? Who inspires you the most?

AG: Paul Gaugin, Henry Darger, Hieronymus Bosch, Miriam Cahn, Radek Szlaga, Marek Rachwalik, Marceli Adamczyk, Aleksandra Waliszewska, Dominika Kowynia, Mateusz Sarzyński, Rychu Peja, Zdechły Osa.

SK: Thank you for the conversation.

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About The Author

Sylwia
Krasoń

Founder of Contemporary Lynx (2013). Editor-in-chief of the Contemporary Lynx in print and online. The art historian with a Master of Arts degree in Arts Policy & Management (the University of London, Birkbeck College) and Master of Arts in History of Art (Jagiellonian University in Cracow).

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