“Art is a basic component of human nature”
by Emily Jaeger, Features Editor
Agnieszka Gzyl is a Polish artist whose original technique, applying silicone to canvas, speaks to the observer’s senses of sight and touch. With a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture, she completed her Master of Fine Arts at the Academy of Fine Arts of Władysław Strzemiński in Łódź. Agnieszka has participated in numerous international exhibitions, the most recent in Budapest. Later this year she will move to the United States to further her art career.
Agnieszka Gzyl, whose works, ones of silicone caulking rather than paint on canvas, were featured in the June issue, doesn’t exactly know how she decided to begin painting with silicone. She also realizes this is might seem great disappointment for any interviewer or curator of her work:
Unfortunately, I do not know where, when, and or why I have got such an idea. I do not remember the moment when construction silicon appeared as an interesting material to paint with. I am an architect, and I head many interior design projects. Naturally, you would think I would observe how the workers use silicone finishing a bathroom, for example, and realize that it would be a good artistic medium, but it was not like that at all. It also annoys me that I can’t remember my moment of discovery at all. Maybe it was the miracle?”
While Gzyl doesn’t remember her initial foray into painting with silicone, her interest in painting stems from an epiphany while driving. After observing stunning views from the car window, she was suddenly moved by a strong desire to paint the scenery. “But I did nothing,” Gzyl admits, “I was was scared that I wouldn’t be able to paint at all. Months passed and my desire to paint grew everyday, but also my fear.” Finally, Gzyl decided to take a few classes so that she could learn how to paint in the company of others—to conquer their fears together. The classes turned into the beginning of her career as a visual artist: “I quickly realized that painting has always been my path.”
As her painting developed, she began to experiment with silicone—determining the exact chemical manipulations to “tame” it. The result of Gzyl’s experiments is a medium that not only appears extremely tactile on canvas, but is resilient enough for viewers to touch: “a child’s development is shaped by the experiences that s/he has with the outside world primarily through the senses of sight and touch. Drawing attention to these senses increases the child’s understanding of how to communicate and build relationships with each other.”
Ranging from figurative to abstract, Gzyl’s tactile paintings are often inspired by both political themes and her experiences growing up in Poland. For example, her series Behind the Wall and the painting “Behind The Hidden Wall” were inspired by her memories of the fall of the Berlin Wall and lifting of the Iron Curtain. The figurative painting “Exposure” references the female form as empowerment to women: “It encourages women to expose themselves to the world: to come out from the shadows and show themselves, rather than pretending to be someone else in order to compete with the men.”
In addition to the discovering of her unique medium, one of the most influential experiences on her artistic career has been travel: meeting artists internationally through different shows and exhibitions. Encouragement from a large cohort of talented peers bolstered her own confidence in her work. Her travels and explorations of art abroad also led her to view art as a fundamental human language: “From my travels I understood that one of the most important things about art is that it is a basic component of human nature and each culture.”
Juggling a blossoming career in architecture with her creative arts, Gzyl has continued to advance her silicone art and is pursuing a PhD in Fine Arts as well. Her paintings leave the viewer reaching for more: how will she continue to evolve this new field of painting? Following her intuitions (she never sketches ahead of time), Gzyl claims that she trusts the silicone to lead the way in each painting, combined with her emotions and recollections: “I never know which direction ‘she’ [the silicone] will lead my hand. That is amazing feeling.”
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