Interview by Javier Melian www.chrom-art.org co-founder for www.thepalettepages.com
I met Kris Cieslak on Thursday 11st September, in the opening of “A Conscious Identity”, the new group exhibition he is taking part in and curating at Espacio Gallery, London. Espacio Gallery is run by the artists themselves, with focus on the creative process above the business side of things. The result is an exciting space full of art eye candy and amicable people who are all passion and no pitch. As with Kris’s own work, the focus of “A Conscious Identity” is people, from a point of view of the artist; how the artist see the human subject. He has surrounded himself with very talented peers to show the good, the bad and the ugly, and emotions that range from abstract mysticism to very explicit lust.
Kris focuses in human feelings and interpersonal relations, and the strive for physical and spiritual perfection. Although cutting edge, his work is not extreme in any sense. Instead it is very sleek and aesthetically balanced, like a good piece of architecture or engineering. There is order and proportion, and method. With the use of his trademark style of black and white stripes he achieves the illusion of a three-dimensional space and gentle up and down and sideways movement. The outcome is truly innovative, no wonder he is very sought after by international collectors.
A highly successful artist in his native Poland, Kris is now based in London but frequently travels to the continent to exhibit in Paris, Rome, Milan and Warsaw.
Self-taught or art school?
Hard to answer this one as I was drawing, painting and sculpting all my life but my parents never really agreed to me studying art so I started with finances and banking. I left after 2 years telling my parents nothing and went to study art at the Schola Posnaniensis – University of Art -in Poznań, Poland with my main subject – Unique Object. During these first years I had exhibitions of my early works and went to Paris (for the first time in my life) with my first projects of the “Woman cycle”, the first cycle created in my own style – that is how I discovered Stripeism.
If you could own one work of art what would it be?
Do I really need to pick just one? I think I would prefer to own one piece from each artist I love and admire.
Hmm.. I think it would be Pablo Picasso’s Guernica. No other painting shocked me, scared me, amazed me, impressed me or made me think like this one! I’ve always loved and admired Picasso and until today I remember seeing Guernica in Reina Sofia Museum for the first time. I was always very idealistic – against wars, loving peace, since my childhood dreaming about a world without borders. Guernica is against everything I despise and for everything I dream of!
How would you describe your style?
Informally I call it stripeism – informally because that name was created by my artist friends. I am using mostly black and white stripes to define the human body – my artwork is always about the people – I focus primarily on the constant striving for perfection, both physical and spiritual, beauty of the body, eroticism and capturing the variety of emotions hidden in every human being without unnecessary moralising or pomposity.
Where are your favourite places to view art?
Right now my favourite one is here, Espacio Gallery in Shoreditch, London – many brilliant shows, plenty of talented artists who love art and who do not treat it as a business. Every time I am there I can feel true passion for art.
I generally prefer smaller and less popular galleries without curators, who sometimes forget that they should serve art and not the opposite. But the exception is my beloved Centre Pompidou where I have spent most of my time while living in Paris. I could actually feel art coming from every pipe in that amazing building.
Who are your favourite artists and why?
These questions are always the most difficult ones as it is very hard to pick the best ones from such a variety of talented artists.But without offending anyone, I can definitely say that the ones who gave me most were and remain Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol – both created something new and both were strong enough to continue painting in their own style, demonstrating that in the art world there are no rules and the only limitations are the borders of our own imagination!I am also amazed with many of the artists I have met here in London – Carlos de Lins, Sal Jones, Eleanor Buffam, Santiago Bitti-Alcón, Renee Rilexie, Becky Beckett -who I can also proudly call friends. Each one of us has a different style, but I feel that we complement each other’s thoughts and very often feel the same, working as a one mind.
What or who inspires your art?
I do not want to sound obvious but it is always people. Their emotions, inner and outer beauty, passions and desires, memories and dreams. All my life I have loved to focus on people, sharing my thoughts and ideas with them, hoping that it will bring more good to our existence, using the universal language of art.
Where’s your studio and what’s it like?
Previously in Warsaw, my studio was a large 3 room apartment on the 16th floor. It was always open to guests which was very inspiring. My friends didn’t call it a studio but the Art Club!
In Paris my studio was my small bedroom in a friend’s house, but the size didn’t bother me at all – in fact, quite the opposite – I was feeling like a decadent artist- so free, crazy and always inspired.
Here in London my studio is my house where I live -painting in the bedroom, living-room or even in the garden! Big spaces which allow me to experiment and search for new ways to express myself. And in London there is nothing easier than to find inspiration. The streets are always full of friendly and open minded people. I am currently thinking about renting a studio with my artist friends, to be surrounded by their beautiful minds all the time.
Do you have any studio rituals?
I like to paint naked (laughs), I like to feel free when I am painting so the fewer clothes the better, but I am not sure if this is a ritual or just a comfortable way of working! I try to avoid rituals and not get used to anything too much so that I am always capable of change. Hopefully for the better.
What are you working on currently?
I am always working on something. I am currently trying to stop being very neat on my paintings, allowing myself to be more ‘messy’ – which is the complete opposite to my life.
I am also preparing works for the “From Dada to Fluxus” exhibition, opening 16th March 2015 in Espacio Gallery and finishing my last paintings for my solo exhibition in Home House,
Where can we buy your art?
Through James Nicholls Investment Art at http://jn-investment-art.com/
or in the following galleries:
Espacio Gallery, Shoreditch, London
Home House, Marble Arch, London
Catharine Miller Gallery, Earls Court, London
Emmediarte Gallery, Milan
Lavignes-Bastille Gallery, Paris
or directly from my home studio in North London and of course via my website: http://www.krzysztofcieslak.pl/
What are your ambitions?
To bring peace and love to all human kind (laughs).
I still believe in my ideals and even if I only manage to change one person for the better, I will be very happy. But hopefully with time I will be able to exhibit my artwork in some of the most important galleries and museums in the world, trying to show via my artwork that the most important thing we have in our lives are our emotions, the ability to admire beauty, the ability to learn from each other and to change. We should create – not destroy!