Artists Find New Voices In The Void of a Pandemic

Art Artist ClaudioKaczka MiguelParedes PiotrBak

Photo Agnieszka Pilat

The coronavirus has affective all of us, but this has become new ground for artists who express the times and emotions through their creative mediums. For a commercial artist work comes to a lull or does it? We talked to four different artists of different mediums to find out how this virus is affecting their art and their creativity. 
Agnieszka Pilat in her Burning Man outfit
Agnieszka Pilat aspires for her work to be global; yet ‘global’ seems to be tied to a specific location, which is still New York. Every time Pilat hears someone refer to her as a ‘local artist’ her ego suffers a blow. If moving to New York City is what it takes to cast-off this label, Pilat just may be ready to take that risk.

“The thought of leaving San Francisco, and Silicon Valley behind, my friends, collectors and the many entrepreneurs fills my heart with sadness. The center of my universe is in the San Francisco Bay Area, which is THE CENTER of the universe as it relates to innovation and technology, which has, and continues to change the world. The future is made here. My machines are born here, and my work pays tribute to that spirit.”

Suzanna: How are you staying creative during this virus?

Agnieszka Pilat: Should I be embarrassed to say that I thrive in this quiet time..? As an artist, I am used to solitude and to working by myself in the studio. This new reality which everyone finds so tough to deal with… it is my playground, it’s my normal. I wonder if other people are getting this feeling, but for me personally, it’s as if time slowed down… I don’t remember having this luxury of working without feeling rushed. I appreciate that very much.

Because the pandemic made it unclear how the art market and the world will recover, how it will be different when it’s all over, what will be the new normal… I allowed myself to be more playful, more experimental in my studio practice. I gave myself a green light to really experiment, I feel more free to give myself permission to play with ideas, to learn new materials and new approaches. 

The new work that is being created during this lockdown is very different – I am exploring a new language to show the transition from mechanical machine to organic one. Of course this is so very much *of the moment* as the world as we know it is crumbling and we are looking to science and technology for solutions.

I still go to my studio 5 days a week – I bicycle down the hill from Nob Hill to the Mission in San Francisco. I try to be in the studio by 12PM and I work till 6PM. I take one day a week to answer emails and do other ‘paperwork’, like applying for grants, writing my newsletter, social media stuff.

I am quite determined to never answer emails in the mornings – I like to be in control of my morning time and not reactive, letting others drive my schedule. I like to read in the mornings – always art history or art biographies.

Suzanna: Have you found out that this time is giving you more creative time?
Agnieszka Pilat
Agnieszka Pilat: Well, yes. Definitely yes. Networking aspect in an artist’s life can take a really huge chunk of time. I go to openings, panels, fundraisers a lot and regularly. It’s important to be a part of the community, to support artist friends, meet new patrons, see what work is out there. For me personally, I need a full day in the studio to be able to get deep into work – if I know I have an event in the evening I need to attend, I find it difficult to get into deep work. Because I am not a morning person, I am rarely productive before noon. So if I get in the studio at 1PM and I have an event at 5PM – obviously that doesn’t get me enough time to warm up and create meaningful work.

Now, because all the shows, opening and parties have been suspended or cancelled, that means I can work late into the night without feeling FOMO. I like that a lot. It’s a luxury to have this much time, no distractions. 

Suzanna: What would you like to say to this world artistically?

Agnieszka Pilat: Art reflects our world and what is going on. 

Suzanna: What would you like to say to this world artistically?
Agnieszka Pilat
Agnieszka Pilat: Primarily, in regard to my work – I wish I had access to a ventilator now – as you know I paint heroic portraits of machines and what could be more heroic now then a ventilator! I would love to paint a portrait of it…

On a totally different note, I would say to my friends and the world out there: this shall pass. Instead of being reactive, waiting for the quarantine to be over, perhaps take this time to look inward, slow down. How often do we get a luxury of time being this slow..? 

I would love to finish with a poem by Kipling, (‘Brother Square-Toes’—Rewards and Fairies). Read it daily. What more is there to say in times like these?

If you can keep your head when all about you  

    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

    But make allowance for their doubting too;   

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;  

    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;   

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

    And treat those two impostors just the same;   

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings

    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginnings

    And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

    To serve your turn long after they are gone,   

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,  

    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

    If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,  

    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
Claudio Kaczka 
The firm of choice for Dior, Dolce & Gabana, Prada, Caroline Herrera, Givenchy, Apple, MAC Tom Ford and Jo Malone, is BIRKA. Claudio Kaczka CEO of BIRKA didn’t know he had a vision and that luxury brands would look to his firm to create lavish experiences. His buildings draw in shoppers and potential customers alike. Founded in 2009, BIRKA has completed over 700 projects for top name, influential luxury brands. BIRKA specializes in creating spaces that are eye-catching, They reflect the newest trends in products as well. Kacka is also a painter in his own rights.

Suzanna: How are you staying creative during this virus?

Claudio Kaczka: We are working more than ever now. We are thinking about not only working with our clients, but working for solutions for the clients and solutions for the future.We have divided the company into several task forces. We are working with shipping containers, hospitals and for people who stay home a lot. The projects are numerous. 

Suzanna: What would you like to say to this world artistically?

Claudio Kaczka: I try to create sensations within people. I want them to feel something. It amazing the connection I have right now. I receive a lot of comments from people who now have the time to see the art.

Suzanna: How will your work reflect this moment in time?

Claudio Kaczka: I do figurative art my paintings now are inside houses. It depends what happens in the day. I let that reflect back into my art. I try to create art that makes you step outside of yourself. An art window.
Piotr Bak was born in Żywiec, Poland and studied at the Faculty of Graphic Arts of the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow. He is the author of numerous projects and has implementation his work with drawing and painting techniques. Bak is also the co-author of many polychromes in the churches in Czarny Dunajec, Woszczyce, and Kędzierzyn-Koźle.
Piotr Bak
Suzanna: How are you staying creative during this virus?

Piotr Bak: The degree of my creativity during the virus is no different from the one before the pandemic. The time I spend in the studio has also not changed, which is why the isolation we are forced to do is not so noticeable by me (so far).

 The world around me, relationships between people have been and are a source of inexhaustible inspiration for me. The current situation also stimulates my imagination, allows me to look differently at the topics around which my thoughts have previously circulated, but have not found the right ground for realization. The topic I dealt with in the past was related to domestic violence. For lack of ideas for continuation, I left him for other topics. The current situation caused that the problem returned to me with great force and became an incentive to continue the work started in the past.

Another image I am currently working on speaks of loneliness. The topic has been raised many times by me, but current events have sketched other compositional frames in my head, gave the theme a different tone, a different dimension.

Emotions related to the current situation are also becoming the main element of other works that I am currently working on, for example: Captive of Struggle, Tear.

The works are currently at various levels of advancement, and the path to a satisfactory result for me will be repeatedly rearranged.

However, in order not to fall into a state of total depression, more optimistic works appear. These are portraits, portraits of my loved ones such as the portrait of my niece Martyna.

The portraits that I draw directly from the model are for me the biggest challenge and at the same time a pleasure. The current situation, however, forces me to work with photos. Drawing a portrait is for me a way to calm my thoughts, but also to check my workshop skills.
Piotr Bak
Suzanna: What would you like to say to this world artistically?

Piotr Bak: In my paintings the world that surrounds me is most reflected. Reality is an inspiration for me, which ignites my imagination, constantly brings themes to my paintings. The topic has become very important to me for some time, it is a binder that helps me combine my experience with new experiences resulting from experimentation in order to achieve the greatest symbiosis between form and content.

I don’t look for answers in my paintings, but I just want to highlight some problems that surround me and often touch me personally. I address existential problems with the help of my personal language of expression. What I want to convey to people who have come across my paintings is a different way of interpreting the surrounding reality.

By using a personal combination of carefully selected words, I help the recipient move to a world that can give some respite from the visual cacophony surrounding us.

Problems of existential nature were not easy and pleasant, but the fact that I avoid the provocative nature of expression can facilitate contact with my work.
Miguel Paredes
Miguel Paredes is an artist and urban realist who combines the exhilarating sense of New York graffiti art with the skill and perceptiveness of a truly exceptional artist. Paredes drew inspiration from notorious pop artists like Andy Warhol and Keith Haring and plunged headlong into the world of graffiti and pop art taking the name “Mist” as his moniker.
Miguel Paredes
Suzanna: How are you staying creative during this virus?

Miguel Paredes: I have a home studio so I’ve been productive and painting a lot. I’m continuing to do as much as I can to keep my mind refreshed, like spending time with my family, working out and eating healthy. I’m always working on several projects and switching between them helps me continue to look at them with a fresh eye. Lastly, keeping on top of current events and what people are interested in around the world offers fresh perspectives.
Miguel Paredes
Suzanna: What would you like to say to this world artistically?

Miguel Paredes: We need a lot of support from collectors. We also need to be give them a break because I want them to have the art. My art is constantly changing according to my tastes and influenced by the time in which it was created. Now more than ever it is saying that though everything seems chaotic and disconnected, the changes we are seeing and causing individually is both being caused by and impacting change around the world. Further, the same way I work with multiple layers in my pieces, combining graffiti with florals, media and different cultural styles, nothing in life just black and white. There are always multiple ways to frame a situation and we can find beauty even in the darkest times.
#MiguelParedes #ClaudioKaczka #Art #Artist #PiotrBak
MiguelParedes ClaudioKaczka Art Artist PiotrBak

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