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Agata Szymanek

In her art practice, she focuses on the many phenomena and stimuli shaping human relationships with the rest of the animated world.

Agata Szymanek was born in 1990, she lives and works in Mysłowice, Poland. She studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Katowice, where she obtained a doctorate. She is also a certificate student at the New Center of Research and Practice and an author of the research publication “Spiritual Exercises” issued in 2020 by the Academy of Fine Arts in Katowice.
In her reflections she focuses on the many phenomena and stimuli shaping human relationships with the rest of the animated world. Her most important goal is to encourage social sensitivity and learn how to feel and understand nature. She creates stories whose background theme is the complexity of life and our inability to solve the problem of human existence on Earth. As Lawrence Buell, one of the pioneers of eco-criticism, put it: with the environmental crisis comes a crisis of the imagination.
Agata is engaged in creative work. Her primary media are painting and collage. She searches for inspiration in old nature albums. She paints furs, insect shells, hair, feathers, rocks and tree bark using intuitive and experimental methods. The broader purpose is to dissect linguistic and cultural images of nature.
Agata Szymanek is also interested in educational activity. Her original classes are focused on developing and advancing critical and creative thinking. In 2020 and 2021 she taught the workshop “Bees and the sword of contestation” on 6th PhilosophyCon organized by the Silesian University, the workshop “Balsamic Garden” addressed to pharmacy employees, and “the Balance workshop” at Gallery BWA in Katowice.
She has exhibited her works in institutions and galleries such as the Hornsey Town Hall Arts Center (London, UK), Bwa Awangarda (Wrocław, Poland), Galeria Bielska BWA (Bielsko-Biała, Poland), Rondo Sztuki (Katowice, Poland), Christmas Steps Gallery (Bristol, UK), Artists’ Colony (Gdańsk, Poland), Silesian Museum (Katowice, Poland), and Dumbo Arts Festival (New York, USA).

What is the language in common for the young people today?

It's hard to find a common language today as we are divided into little groups of particular interests, and new technologies help us to find and focus only on those who share our passions. But some things and topics connect us, mostly within the pop culture, but also, what I observe in Poland, people start to socialize around the problems and situations they find important like the environmental awareness or human rights.

What does the process of making one of your pieces look like?

I start by looking for new ideas through various readings or visual information, and then the working process comes organically. I simply try to play with what I have in front of me.

Which challenges have you faced while making art as you know it?

The biggest challenge is to overcome the situation in which the artist feels comfortable, and sometimes it seems almost impossible to create something that will be surprising for the author. The remedy for that is the possibility to collaborate with other people that inspire and show new paths.

Do you consider yourself an artist, and what does that word mean to you?

I like the myth of the independent, spiritual and creative thinker behind the figure of an "artist". Still, I also know the reality of being one, what is the strong dedication to continuing the art practice even encountering some hardships.

What is your escape from reality? Do you even have a need to escape from something?

I rarely escape from reality. In fact, reality is very interesting because you are surrounded by people, who are real. It's good to pay attention to them.

What does the word innovative mean to you?

It is hard to think about this word in a different context than commerce and new technologies. But, from another point of view, being innovative is something very appreciated in the art world. The thing is not to let us be seduced by innovations that don't have the proper background of authentic intentions.

Do you have a plan for the future? Where can your artistic practice take you?

I started as a painter in the very traditional medium of oil painting. Now I am developing self-publishing and educational projects, and I started a collaboration with my sister, a mobile app programmer. All these new spaces influence my painting practice. I am looking forward to the new terrains that the future can bring.

What made the biggest influence on you to become what you are today and do what you do now?

I think that the artist collaborations and various readings have the most significant influence on my practice.

How would you describe Serbian (Balkan or European-depends on where you live and work) contemporary cultural scene?

The art scene in Poland is abundant, and there are many exciting artists everywhere.

In which way does your creative process shape you or changes you as a person, if it does at all?

It helps me always to consider many perspectives dealing with everyday life.