Natalia Załuska: I would like to refer back to what Anne d’Harnoncourt once said in an interview: understanding art comes from looking at it and nothing can replace that. I feel loyal to this statement. I understand that we are settled in a tradition that is already in motion and we can not separate ourselves from the past or present. For me it would even be devastating. An exhibition, or a piece of architecture can be very inspiring and provoking. These are influences I always try to gather and welcome them. I allow them to motivate me, also to re-think my own point of view. Minimalism as an art historical movement is certainly one of the most important points of reference for my work. Considering my artistic practice spatiality remains the main topic in my paintings..
VDC: In many works the concept of “overlap” seems to be relevant. Other works are more essential. How conscious is this result?
NZ: Over the last couple of years, I’ve developed my working method – use of cardboard as a an elementary component in my paintings. The idea to work with this material and collage came from my interest for the surface of the painting, depth and space. The layers of cardboard of various shapes, sizes and thickness began recently to play a more and more important role.
I was even a little surprised to notice how eager I work with these materials and how complex my paintings began to be. Now I can really say that I not only paint them but rather construct them, build them. In my black paintings I often go further, I cut the surface, destroy its flatness.
I’m playing off the surface and its results in the use of layers, overlaps, elements that are covered or exposed. There are still some works that are very smooth and reduced, where one single element has a leading function.
VDC: In almost every work there seems to be something “hidden” that can’t help but come out. Is it unintentional?
NZ: Those small, how you called it “hidden“ elements are something that I incorporate in my paintings. I tend to to break the simplicity and clearness, spoil the surface with those items.
VDC: How important is the “unexpected” in your work? How strong is the response between what you mentally plan and the final result?
NZ: My working process is well thought-out, it’s very considered. I think an abstract painting needs a strong structure, a setup, but I do not work with previously pre-planned ideas. When I begin to work on canvas I always start with compositions, the most important lines and divisions. Afterwards my steps are more and more detailed.
The working process can be very dynamic, very intense. I often react to what’s happening on canvas and accept the inspiration from that as well. In my work, I am alternating between small and large formats and it is different to work on each of those scales. My large paintings are technically more demanding, and take a huge effort. Making them I have to decide very precisely what my next step should be. It is like a playing chess, it takes a lot of time. Doing the small paintings I can afford to work more intuitively. For me it is interesting to learn from those diverse experiences.
VDC: If one looks at your works deeply, one realizes that the technique is probably very complex. Could you tell me something about that?
NZ: Well, I have to confess that the materials I use are pretty low tech. I work with basic materials: canvas on frames, cardboard, acrylic or glossy paint, various colors and so on..
Of course the more complicated issue is how I use them, how I combine them. For this reason I have developed my own method.
I see painting as an open practice that must not be limited to oil on canvas – it felt completely natural for me to hunt for some other materials, to incorporate them into my working system.
VDC: Black, white, a little spot of blue. Tell me something more about this kind of choice.
NZ: I wanted to have a color that corresponded well with my general idea of painting, reduction and simplicity, that fits with shapes and modules, which my works are made from. I have chosen the white color as the most suitable. Soon afterwards I employed black as an opposite, antipode to the white. The more I work with those two tones, the more involved they seem to me. In my newest paintings you can find a lot a small gradations of different white colors, also I set some accents with other tones.
My black-blue paintings are almost another subject. They intrigue me, fascinate me too. I think these are the most intimate paintings I’ve done so far.
VDC: Which media do you principally use?
NZ: My background is in painting. Occasionally I work with drawings as well.
NZ: I graduated from the Jagiellonian University of Cracow, afterwards from the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. Certainly in Vienna I have gained the most relevant experience, and I developed the framework of my current artistic practice. I can not say that the city itself influenced me in a very direct way. I try to collect influences from many different sources, and it can be even more valuable if you get out for a while from what you know, such as your daily surroundings.
Vienna is the place where I belong right now. Contact with colleagues and like-minded artists, my studio and the Christine König Galerie which is my main gallery is extremely important to me. Those things create a secure basis for my further work.
VDC: Tell me something about your recent projects and your upcoming exhibition.
NZ: The last year was indeed very intense for me. I had a solo project in a New Positions section during Art Cologne, solo show in the Berlin gallery Jochen Hempel and in Warsaw gallery Le Guern. I was also invited to the exhibition curated by Adam Budak in the Elba Benitez Gallery in Madrid – The Sky is Blue in Some Other Way: A Diagram of a Possible Misreading, as well as the exhibition Bildbaumeister curated by Agela Stief, that took place in Vienna and Linz.
I have some upcoming shows: the first of which is a solo project in Munich at Gallery Klüser 2, which will open on March 10th. And In November I have another solo show at Chrstine König Gallery. I’m looking forward to both.
Natalia Załuska was born in Cracow in 1984, she lives and works in Vienna.
Images 1, 2 , 3 : Courtesy Gallery Jochen Hempel, Berlin / Photos 1, 2, 3 : Uwe Walter
Images 4, 5, 6, 7 : Courtesy Christine König Gallery, Vienna / Photo 6: Elsa Okazaki