"I like paintings that are somewhat unfinished or abstracted. Drawings in which not everything is fully realised. Art where the viewer can finish the story in their mind and in their own way."
A contemporary realist painter who mainly in oils, Agnes Grochulska is one artist to pay attention to. The artist from Poland currently works and lives in Richmond, Virginia. He work in one word, touching. She captures the essence of her subjects which any painter will tell you is really hard to do. But she does so with distinctive lines and thick application that is very much her own style. He work has been shown in New York, Denver, Miami, and abroad.
Agnes' work is beautiful and full of depth, both in technique and character. We asked the artist about her art, what advice she can give, and what she is listening to these days.
What’s your earliest memory in art?
Looking at illustrations in books and trying to figure out how they were made; following the lines with my eyes, wondering about the color choice, really getting lost in the world created by the pictures. I have always loved reading and illustrations fascinated me as a child. I remember flipping through books I already read and knew and staring at the pictures for what seemed like hours - making my own stories about them. And not just children’s books, but encyclopedias, poetry books, magazines…
You decided on the human face as your subject matter? Why is that?
True - portrait is a personal favorite of mine, I guess what I’m after is - trying to capture the emotion and personal stories in somebody's features. The subjects of my paintings are people who in some special way struck me as interesting subjects to portray. Each of the portraits has an underlying idea that expresses either the subjects character, an inner emotion, or a particular feature - something unique that initially drew my interest. Employing simplified composition and using expressive, gestural lines and bold colors, my intention is to reveal something visceral and true about the subject, and connect it to a larger and more significant message about human existence.
What are you looking to communicate with your work?
I think the underlying intention I have for my paintings and drawings is to highlight and share some particular emotion about them that made a particularly strong impression on me. It is this initial impression and raw feeling that I hoped to capture (different in different pieces) and found worth sharing with others.
While my work is anchored in representation, I try to not only focus on depicting the details of my subject, but also try to capture the emotion - the essence of it. That particular “something” that drew me to that subject in the first moment. My paintings tend to transform a lot during the painting process and take a life on their own, like they want to be telling their own story…
I like paintings that are somewhat unfinished or abstracted. Drawings in which not everything is fully realised. Art where the viewer can finish the story in their mind and in their own way. I think that way there is more room left interpretation and feeling. Space for finding out what that particular artwork means to you.
Who are some artists that have influenced your work and you admire?
There’s so many! And the list changes all the time too. I’m always excited to be discovering new artists - both historic and contemporary.
I’m continually inspired by the masters – the ones we all love: Rembrandt and Vermeer, Van Gogh and Cezanne… the Russian realists, the German expressionists, the lovers of line: Klimt, Schiele, Neel. And the Polish painters that I grew up looking at and up to: Wyspianski, Boznanska, Ruszczyc, Witkacy…
How do you go about finding inspiration to create?
I am usually pretty self driven and feel motivated to get as much done as I can in the few hours I have between busy family life and other everyday tasks. I think it is related to the fact that I had a long break between art school and actually working as an artist. I was busy raising family for many years and only got back to painting after our oldest left for college and our youngest child went to school full time. “When, if not now?” kinda thinking…
Looking at good art, especially in person, often fills me with inspiration and makes me want to run back to my studio and try out new ideas.
Oh, and live figure drawing sessions. A regular drawing practice from a model was very influential in getting me back on track as an artist, and is still an excellent way to keep improving my observational and drawing skills.
If you could have a conversation with any artist, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Really hard question… I’m not sure - anyone and all of them? So many artists seem interesting for different reasons, and I would love to to talk to them about it all: their life, their process, the art world contemporary to their times...
What was the last thing you saw that really inspired you to create?
Maybe not exactly the last thing that I saw, but something that’s on my mind for a while now: traditional printmaking techniques. I think my line work would translate interestingly in print and I’m looking for a way to try and make it happen!
Many of our readers are artists themselves, what’s one piece of advice you’d give them?
I’d tell them what I told myself: “Just go for it” - meaning; just do it, dont be afraid to try new things, dont be afraid to fail, be true to what really matters to you. “Just go for it” was the advice I gave myself a couple of years ago when I decided to seriously immerse myself in art… and went for it! I still remind myself that, whenever starting a new painting, considering a daring project, or facing difficulties.
There is also the famous Picasso quote “Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working” that is just simply the truth about creating anything.
What music are you listening to these days?
I listen to a lot of audiobooks while working, and go through phases of different genres of literature. I like a lot of different styles, but a good sci-fi is always my go to.
I like listening to podcasts as well, and art podcasts are something I can relate to on a personal level. It is pretty special to listen to other painters talking about their practice while also painting at my own easel.
Music-wise: I have my all time favorites: Björk, Amy Winehouse, Agnes Obel, Sigur Ros, Black Pumas, Alabama Shakes. I also enjoy listening to classical music, jazz, and eighties rock - so, really all-over the place!
©2020 PROVK MEDIA LLC