When I was taking my entry exam at the Academy of Fine Arts in Katowice, I’d already been able to draw and paint realistically. At the time, it was the basis for being accepted at the Academy. During my studies, I gave up on realism and started doing large abstract paintings, where some stories were hidden, invisible to the viewer but relevant to me. But after graduating, I realized I couldn’t do paintings of that size and I had to ask myself what was the real point of my artwork.
I started reducing size and expression; I painted mainly simplified black and white portraits of my relatives, done with rhythmic brushstrokes. When I mastered this imagery, I decided to get back to figurative painting – this simple kind of imaging seemed to me a sort of trap, a mindless pattern. Over the next two years, I was doing realistic paintings but something changed yet again, and in a natural way, I started combining realism with previous, more abstract techniques.
Curiously enough, when I started doing realistic paintings again, I realized how important they are, possibly due to the apparent ‘transparency’ of this kind of painting. And that’s when I started creating socially-engaged art, being a sort of empathic way to look at things. This commitment, more or less clear to the viewer, is still with me today.