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Interview with Jacek Kaczyński (Wuwei)

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Polish artist Jacek Kaczyński was born in Warsaw in 1965. While he describes his life as “boring,” I’m sure not many of us can say we “tried to escape from the army”! Perhaps his rebellious character is what makes him such a wonderful artist. After all, every artist has to be willing to break a few rules!

After he served his punishment of working out his two year military service he began his professional life in 1986. Over the years he has worked in a few printing and publishing houses and currently works for the Polish Ministry of Education. Jacek opens up about life under communism, literature, loss and his philosophy of life and how it influences his art.

PortfolioIT’S ART: In a colorful world you have chosen to express yourself in black and white, why is that?

Jacek: I guess for many various reasons, some of them unknown even to me probably. The world is not simply such as is but is such as we can see it; our own perceptions are very subjective. So, I can see a colorful world in black and white because the experience of my life has made me color-blind. This can be thought of as a kind of disability but it is a disability which was chosen, it is a self-limitation. Black and white is the way I see things and as a consequence it is my means of expression, thanks to which I can communicate with the rest of the world with the highest degree precision. This limitation has become my way to pass on emotions, atmosphere, ideas etc. In a colorful world sometimes the essence of things can be lost. My color asceticism allows me to approximate to truth, I hope. It is also the way I escape from standards, from easy visual attractiveness and from insincerity.

IA: Your illustrations are mostly ethereal, far away from the classical fantasy/sf illustrations we can see on many forums. Can you tell us what other digital artists do you feel close to? Who has been an influence in your art?

J: I do not divide digital and traditional art. My fascinations and discoveries of art that have been the most influential for me date from times before digital art was starting. Truthfully, I don’t know many digital artists, even the very famous ones.

PortfolioThis is a result of the fact that I don’t look for new trends or follow up much on the industry. I had never shown my works anywhere until May 2007, except maybe in a few Polish forums. Generally, I’m unfashionable by choice, which is probably visible enough in my work. And if you could only see my clothes!

One artist whose works I have felt close to for many years is Grzegorz Kmin. Some of his graphics have forced me to ponder over. But we are very different artist from the technical and formal part. Another excellent and original artist is Tomasz Trafiał. His compositions are subtle and aesthetic but still intriguing. There is probably more CG artist whose names do not come to mind at the moment but whose works have blown me away in the past. Really, like I said before, I have been most influenced by art from before the digital era. And by art I mean not only paintings but also movies, photography and literature. Some of the differences in my illustrations date probably from the specific times and conditions I grew up in. For instance, my youthful fascination with the fantastic comes from the classical science-fiction literature published in Poland in 70’s and 80’s. The authors that I read a lot are: Stanisław Lem, Arkadij i Borys Strugaccy, Janusz A. Zajdel, Adam Wisniewski Snerg and, from time to time, Philip K. Dick and Brian Aldiss. During the 70’s and 80’s writers from West were seldom published in Eastern Europe. Remember that I’m talking about times when communism ruled in Poland and press and literature were censored.

Science-fiction literature from those times was more humanistic or even more of a philosophical reflection of man. Writers covered the truth about our world under the mask of fantastic anti-utopia. This world was awful sometimes. Words had double meaning; for example, “friendship,” “peace,” “freedom,” meant something dangerous was still in the air. This restricted atmosphere formed me and my friends and maybe it affects my way of seeing things and my drawings until today. We lived in a very Orwellian world. I consider George Orwell’s 1984 to be a prophetic book and it is still one of the most important books for me today.