Kinga Nowak: “My inspirations between art and architecture”

Bold framing, intense colours (often contrasting), a penchant for blacks, and firm brush strokes.
Kinga Nowak is a Polish young artist (born in 1977) and already very appreciated. Cited among the 100 “young international painters” from the emblazoned Beers Gallery, the painter tells her secrets and her inspirations.

Face to face with Kinga Nowak

Q: Was there a moment when you understood that art had a fundamental role in your life? And when did you understand that it would have became your profession?  

I have always wanted to paint. It isn’t to say that I considered painting as a way of living in any broader sense – I just couldn’t imagine ever doing anything else, so this came as a very natural choice for me. I was also interested in architecture; I even wanted to study it but eventually painting came first. Now these architectural interests are coming back to me – first in my paintings, as a motif, and now in my latest spatial works.

Kinga Nowak immersion

Kinga Nowak – Immersion 150x210cm, oil on canvas 2013

Q: In 2014, you have been included among the “100 Painters of Tomorrow” by Kurt Beers: what future do you see for figurative paintings? What are the other young artists who you find the most interesting?

It is a very important book, as it presents an international overview of current painting. It also provides evidence that painters still feel the need to construe narratives through figuration and representation – photorealism is now less popular than it was a decade ago. For myself, art is about creating a formal language that can function whether representation is used or not. That’s why figuration is of secondary importance to me. I like a lot objects and paintings by Michał Bratko, as well as the paintings of young artist form Katowice, Martyna Czech.

Kinga Nowak – Spielplatz Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow, 2017 (Photo: Rafal Sosin)

Q: We interviewed Andrew Salgado for our “Stories”: what do you think about his art? He said that the continuous evolution of his own artistic style is something very important to him: can you say the same for yourself?

Andrew Salgado is a painter with a huge artistic temperament. I’ve had a chance to meet him on the occasion of the opening of the “100 Painters of Tomorrow” exhibition at Beers Contemporary. I am not surprised that he has been evolving so much over the years and his works have become increasingly vivid. I wholeheartedly agree with him: it is self-development that gives me the drive to keep coming to my workshop. The fact that my artistic work is constantly evolving, that it still surprises me a lot and that I am not always in complete control gives me the thrill.

Q: Do you plan to keep expressing your art mostly with paintings in the future or you plan to experiment also other arts?

Painting has shaped and consolidated my artistic path. Nevertheless, I have never been closed to other media. My latest spatial works surprised me, I confess, but it is just like that: one’s artistic evolution is a sum of various experiences. These forms I have been creating are an extension of my paintings. In these, the geometry which prevails in narrative paintings is freed from the constrictions of two-dimensionality and finds its fulfillment in space – in the relationship between landscape and architecture.

Kinga Nowak - Dawn 120x170 oil on canvas 2016

Kinga Nowak – Dawn 120×170 oil on canvas 2016

Q: Can you describe the role of time and memories in your art and in your life?

Memory is essential in terms of creating visual worlds. We are our memory. Every time I start to paint, certain experiences and memories are triggered – an atmosphere of some place, perhaps, or bright colours spotted in some landscape. That’s one kind of memory. The other kind is collective memory – the one that consists of symbols and signs produced by our culture and civilisation. It is thanks to them that we can communicate. Whenever we view a monument or visit a museum, we preserve that memory. That’s why I am interested in accessing collective memory, too.

Q: Some of your paintings have urban landscapes of the cities where you lived. How architecture influences your art? What kind of architecture you like the most?

That’s true. As I have already mentioned, architecture is very important to me. I have lived in many European cities, e.g. in Düsseldorf, Germany. I was in Berlin at the time of its most dynamic urban transformation; I also lived in Paris, where I studied at the ENSBA, and in London. These urban landscapes have always inspired me and sipped into my paintings as background for various narratives. My home city is Krakow, which is full of examples of modernist architecture but also many beautiful renaissance and baroque buildings, which shape the city’s ambience. I also like to draw inspiration from ancient architecture, e.g. Paestum or Pompeii, Greek ruins, castles and theatres. These are unique places – just being there immediately spurs one’s imagination, not just because of their historical significance but also location and unparalleled, intense light.

Q: Do you associate the natural environment with human loneliness?

Fortunately, there are still some places in this world where we can be alone with nature, and experience it more fully. I do not associate this with loneliness at all. In my view, it is much easier to feel lonely in a big, unfamiliar city.

Kinga Nowak - Goats 130x180cm, oil on canvas (2013)

Kinga Nowak – Goats 130x180cm, oil on canvas (2013)

kinga nowak oil on canvas

Kinga Nowak – Source 150x210cm oil_on_canvas (2014)

Q: What are your main sources of inspiration for your art?

Journeys, light (especially in the South), myths, dreams, intuitions and my inner museum of imagination, which constantly changes and evolves. I am also inspired by ancient and African art, as well as American abstractionism of the 1960s, 1990s fashion (early designs by Jil Sander particularly) and Polish avant-garde.

Q: According to your taste, which kind of interior design style should have the apartments with your paintings? How do you think interior design and art relate to each other? 

There is certainly a close link between design, interior design and painting – all three complement and influence one another. How we paint stems from our surroundings, it is connected with objects we see every day. I am a huge fan of Scandinavian design. Danish furniture from the 1950s and 1960s, for instance, is very elegant and sophisticated in terms of form. I prefer simple, natural looking interiors. But I also appreciate original mixing of different styles and objects that seemingly don’t belong together but in fact unite different worlds and cultures. I have seen my paintings both in very modern interiors and rooms full of antiques – it all boils down to a specific painting and individual place, its light and special atmosphere.

D: Did you see the pictures and the videos of the Nizza Paradise Residence? What did it grab your attention the most?

First and foremost I noticed its brilliant situation against the landscape, the way in which the building was framed into it. Immediately one sees the dialogue between architectural and natural elements. That building is a part of the landscape, no doubt about it. On top of it, one can’t help but admire its beautiful, sophisticated and modern form. Congratulations!

Kinga Nowak totem african
Kinga Nowak monument
Kinga Nowak art

Kinga Nowak – African Totem, BWA Contemporary Art Gallery in Katowice, 2017 230x145x130 cm

Kinga Nowak – Monument 100x61cm, oil on canvas,2015

Kinga Nowak – Trip 60x40cm, oil on canvas,2013

Photo cover: Michal Korta