The Polish artist Ewelina Kołakowska grew up in the north-west coastal town of Świnoujście, and when she was fifteen made the decision, supported by her parents, to study at the Constantina Brancusi art school in Szczecin, 100 km away. After four years studying art and graphic design, in 2013 she gained a place at the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, where she specialised in art conservation, which alongside her interest in exploring lithography, intaglio and other print techniques led her to develop her own style, working almost entirely in monochrome.
She continues to explore a world of light and darkness, conscious and unconscious, clearly drawing on her own experiences of relationship, intimacy, and the interplay of internal and external forces. She has been exhibiting since 2010, recent exhibitions in Toruń including ‘Darkness Visible’ (2016), ‘Body: Chaos of Desires and Anger (2017), and ‘Bodyscape’ (2018).
In a recent interview for the Academia Copernicana website, Ewelina Kołakowska emphasised that ‘You have to be brave and believe in yourself, striving to make your dreams come true at all costs. We can cut the diamond that each of us carries inside ourself. We just need to find it, and then turn it into a jewel.’
Her replies to further questions tell us more about her approach to her work:
Who is your greatest artistic inspiration?
I would say it’s my ambition and willingness to cross my own borders. I demand a lot from myself, I often hear that it is too much. But I always repeat in my mind the words of John Paul II: ‘You must demand of yourself, even if others do not require you to’. When it comes to the inspiration of other artists, I am fascinated by Gerhard Richter, Otto Dix, Hans Bellmer and Franciszek Starowieyski, but I am not trying to imitate their work. The inspiration for me is their consistent work and constant searching.
Your works are bold, sensual, but also often very dark. They touch what is closest to human existence. What has shaped your artistic path?
The creative act is a record of passing feelings and emotions, which I can lose at any moment, or want to get rid of in order to cleanse myself of the rush of negative energy. Who we are and what we want to convey shapes our experiences. They are often negative, traumatic. It depends on us whether they will make us sad or result in something creative.
Do you have any specific rituals related to your artistic work?
I start my day (and sometimes night) in my studio with hot, black coffee. It is difficult for me to define the moment when the creative process begins. The impulse can be a memory, an event, or a longing. Images and events run through my mind all the time. I remember looks, gestures, but most of all touch. When I create, I cannot imagine this process in the company of anyone else. Absolute loneliness is essential.
Ewelina Kołakowska’s Instagram page, where she shows her most recent work, can be found here.