Frame 61

Katarzyna Adamek-Chase

Frame 61
Katarzyna Adamek-Chase

About/background: In my early years I had a lot of exhibitions in nursery school.  But seriously, there was a point in my teenage years, when I was totally consumed with practicing classical music at music school (middle school).  But while I was preparing for my final performance exams I started drawing again to relax after hours and hours of practicing cello. I got so consumed by it that I quickly realised that I had been ignoring a hugely important part of myself and that, in fact, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else except for this. I was about 13 at the time. I’ve been fully emerged in my visual world ever since. 

I went to Art High School in order to get intimate with the fundamentals of the visual arts; to try all possible techniques, to experiment, but also to learn, absorb, and get a solid foundation.  I was obsessed with gaining more knowledge about art.  I studied realistic and figurative art, sculpture, installation and analogue photography. After High School I was accepted to the Academy of fine Arts in Krakow where I was more focused on drawing, painting, traditional graphics and single cell animation. I also had a chance to study at the University of Valencia in the Art Department. There I especially enjoyed movimiento (drawing models while they dance). Generally this was an important time for me to search, observe forms and find the right tools for me. Ever since I finished studying art I’ve been interested in more abstract forms of expression; I have been searching for my own techniques and my very own visual language. 

Structures/nature: Generally there has been a pronounced tension in opposing elements of life for a long time – not just in my life but generally; I observe life and I like to process it in my canvases.  I appreciate the struggle of the two types of structures – ones created by humans juxtaposed with natural ones.  People, animals, plants hidden within the structure of a city…. organic life framed by steel, glass and plastic.  This very rich, complex and layered structure can be fascinating and beautiful or repulsive and chaotic. 

An influence on my perception could be the fact that I love nature, yet I can’t manage to leave the city. I guess this is a common condition of contemporary humans. 

Ruins are the most fascinating visualisation of the struggle between the human world and natural world; old abandoned buildings “repossessed” by a natural environment; or ancient ruins – like the ones I saw in the jungles of Guatemala.  I don’t perceive them as destroyed objects but rather like a new organism marching to the beat of its own drum; it seems the creations of humans are warmly embraced by nature.

Starting new works: I start with an overall plan in my head, sometimes I do sketches of the main composition, but generally I can “see it”, imagine it, even “dream” it. Often it jumps out of the white surface of the canvas when I stare at it for a certain period of time; before I even make my first brush stroke. And I follow this instinctive vision. The picture usually becomes different than how I imagined it but I don’t want to force it too much.  I’m happy if it’s close to what I wanted, but actually I learn more when it’s not what I wanted. 

Since I started using this method, I treat my sketchbook more like a diary. When I travel I always have one. I also carry one small notebook with me all the time so I can note down some ideas quickly. When I have a blockade, which happens sometimes, my sketchbooks are good sources of ideas that are ready to develope. 

Every time I travel it inspires a new picture or series. Memories and new experiences of different light, tastes and smells creates some ferment and leads to new ideas. Also, just travelling by car, train or plane makes me fall into a kind of trance, and that’s when new pictures take seed. 

Lines/marks/repetitive works: There was a moment in my life when I needed to focus, calm down; I had an urgent need to spend hours and hours just following lines, wherever they led me. To let my hand do whatever it wanted, just let it go, almost on its own. One line was the result of another.  And it was quite a meditative experience yet at the same time it became somehow an illustration of time for me.  I was meditating on nature and the passing of time; was formally inspired by naturally occurring patterns such as the internal structures of trees, coral reefs, the earth; layers that grow with time, very very slowly. I coded these reflections into my process; endless repetitive marks of time in nature;  endless engraved lines preserved in black wax. Besides being an interesting experience, it was a completely different technique than I usually use; the opposite of the spontaneous process I have grown accustomed to.


Titles: Generally I don’t pay much attention to titles.  Sometimes I don’t give any or I just give one that helps to identify one picture from another.  Although, there are certain places or moments in time which inspire specific works.  In this case, I make one of these the title; it could be a geographical name, a calendar date, a number or a feeling wrapped up in one word. 

While working I have many expressions and words washing over me that could probably be interesting titles – I note them down but I hardly ever use them because I don’t want to suggest too much with a title.  I prefer the viewer to have their own connotations when they look at it.

Art Heroes/Heroines: Since my teenage years I’ve collected albums of art and artists that I worship. And of course my fascinations used to change year in and year out.  There are a lot of artists whose work I admired so it is difficult to mention them all.  But it is fair to say that I was significantly influenced by Polish artists of the 20 century.  There are also certain artists who I tend to go back to with the same amount of reverence, and then there are those who I’ve rediscovered anew.  For example, I was absolutely mesmerised by Kiefer’s works, whose exhibition I saw a few years ago at the Royal Academy in London.  Also, Richter’s work and his artistic progression impressed me very much.  

Currently my heroes change even more often as there is quick and easy access to artists works’ online.  I am amazed by new artists almost every week. I still prefer to travel and visit museums though, to “confront” art in the flesh and “hunt” for new “heroes”.

Studio/routine: I found out that it is necessary to have a proper studio space to work efficiently. I currently have a very nice studio with large windows which give a lot of light in the afternoons.  I don’t have a very strict routine but I do try to go there everyday; sometimes during the day, sometime at night and sometimes only for a few hours. My days greatly differ from one another but I usually work better in the afternoons, evenings or late at night when I finally find my mental space opening up.  During the day I can’t really focus that much, even if I’m locked away in the studio. 

Generally I work on several picture at a time. They could be completely different, but jumping from one to another actually helps me focus on all of them better.  Also, there are phases during intense work on a series when there is a mess and total chaos for weeks or months on end – well, it appears to be chaos to someone who walks into my studio, but it is not for me; it reflects my ways of thinking, combining, and creating – and suddenly everything seems to be in the right place, I’m not lost in it.  When I feel I’ve finished a certain chapter of my explorations, I clean up completely and then start again – usually something quite different; new themes.

what's next: Looking at my artistic path thus far, I’m pretty sure my works will continue to evolve as I don’t like to stay in one place mentally for a long time.  I can sense a direction but I can’t be sure where it will take me.

It seems like I’m more and more into abstract art, although 10 years ago I would have never dreamed of this.  I’m still trying to improve upon the structures I’m working on now.  What I would like to achieve is the synthesis of my analytical compositions; to find simplicity in multiplicity.

I’m also interested in moving out into space; combining the topic from a picture with spatial objects. I will also attempt to attach 3D objects directly onto a picture.

Future shows: I am working on two exhibitions for this year.  The first one will be in a black gallery and it will show an overview of my direction and progression over the last few years, rather than being based around any structured idea.

The second one is a project based on Stanislaw Lem’s literature.  I’m very excited about this project as his stories are an endless source of imaginative visions which I will channel into objects and pictures. 

Artist website

Publishing date of this interview 08/03/16