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A way of living

Malinowska Julita photo by Czeslaw Czaplinski

Julita Malinowska was born in a small Polish town called Otwock on the right bank of Vistula. Otwock is home to a unique architectural style called Swidermajer developed in late 19th and early 20th century. She studied in the Art Department of the Maria Curie-Slodowska in Lublin from 1999 to 2000, and then in the painting department of the Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow until 2005, having also received a Sokrates/Erasmus scholarship in 2003 for the Wolverhampton University in the UK. Graduated (MA degree) from the Painting Department in 2005 with distinction, from the studio of Prof. Andrzej Bednarczyk and recently PhD degree at the Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow. She has exhibited her work around the world in twenty one solo exhibitions and many important art fairs. Her art is full of mystery without leaving reality behind but always letting some space to her imaginary, her thoughts, her wishes and fears, but there’s also space for the mind of the viewer because her work can also be sawn as a canvas for the creativity of the viewer due to the almost empty spaces around the characters she creates. As she says, her art shows “realistic figures, but not realistic compositions”. Welcome to the artistic world of Julita Malinowska.

What’s art for you?

It's the way of living.

And why did you choose art as a way of living?

Because at the time when I was choosing where to focus my energy, the most joyful thing I was doing was drawing and painting. I met also wonderful people. I felt it can be destiny, way of living, development in many ways, doing something deeper in life. When I was really choosing to try to be an artist when I graduated academy of fine art, it was less "colourful". It was rather hard. Determination and promise to myself: I will do my best to stand the hard beginning.

It was hard financially, but also it is very lonely job to be a painter. But I felt it is my way.

So do you think art is giving you all you expected from it?

It's an interested question. I was all the time thinking that I give something to art (my paintings), never expected anything back. I think I give more than get back.

So yes, art is giving me more than I expected... But there are and there will be up and downs in work. So our relationship with art is rather hard.

Art is it an impulse or need of discovering yourself?

I would say it is need of discovering myself, if I must choose. But most of all I treat it as a work. It is all the time with me, and will be. It is changing the same way as I am changing. Constantly, fluently. Work till the end. Way of living until the end. So in my paintings I rather show my interests at that moment, what fascinated me the last time.

So through your art do you try to express reality or to transform it?

Express my way of seeing reality.

No fantasy, then. No dreams, no wishes...

So rather express transformed reality. Wait, wait, because it is hard to put it in to words...

I imagine since you use a visual art.

Painting is all the time somehow surrealistic- not natural...

You mean not realistic in the material sense, but realistic in the mind sense?

There are realistic figures, but not realistic compositions. It is to like a puzzle. Same fantasy story to say my intuition, the feeling I have about the world.

Photo by Carmen Spitznagel

In your paintings there is always a lot of mystery in spite of their realistic inspiration. Where does that mystery come from? Is it your purpose to create this mystery?

I thing paintings would be all the time the mystery. So it is my aim. I like the most those paintings with the strong atmosphere.

Strength is part of your character?

Yes, definitely.

Your paintings feature bodies of all ages and sizes but the background is very often lacking in details and monochrome, especially the most recent ones. What’s the concept behind that choice?

I concentrate of the relations between figures. And I wish there is nothing which distracts from it. I think the painting should have enough (!), only the needed elements. The background is more to build the atmosphere, to emphasize the bodies, distances between them, or to make than closer.

Sometimes it is meaningful as a division of space, between some people for example. Sometimes this division, it is a border of big power, not under control of human being- represented by the sea.

It's true that one experiences a bigger attention on the people on the painting and the space sometimes it's felt as an isolation but others as a kind of spirituality that link us with each other. Do you have a spiritual sense of life?

I am searching in this field since many years. I was practising Tibetan Buddhism for over 4years. I was born in very catholic home. Last time I start to be interested in shamanism. I am sure life has a real spiritual sense.

So do you think our western culture has made our body become more prison than a way to liberate our spirit?

Yes, indeed. We -westerns- do many things not to be connected with our spirit, and real emotions.

What's the effect of that in our life?

Loneliness, depression, suicides...all bed parts of personality: greed, selfishness...all this need to be extra the best, the most beautiful. With no respect to the cycles of life.

Do you consider yourself as a voyeur? What do you think about human attraction to voyeurism?

Yes, I am voyeur when I collect my materials. I need it because I search for natural behaviours. It is laboratory situation. A human attraction? It is a substitute of life...

From one side it is natural- we learn by observation. But it is toll of control, nowadays (all the cameras, and scanning us with the internet), and substitute for reality, for passive voyeur.

One of your paintings interests me especially, it's called Passing away, from 2010. Could you explain me about it?

The one with elder ladies?


I wanted to show the loneliness of dying person. I chose one person, because anyway it is symbolic person. At fist there is many, the father she goes there is less "her"/them, at the end there is just single person. But it is not destructive, she is seeing something which we (viewers of the paintings) cannot see...

What do you feel when you think of death?

I like to use one figure, because it gets more context. There’s more mystery... Like in the painting Family, 200x255- there is a lonely girl lost searching the way between families. I feel mystery.

What are your artistic references?

Hockney, Pierro della Francesca, Hopper, I love all great art. Rembrandt, I like Last Judgments. "Realistic fantasy".

Photo by Jacek Kozielski

Are you making your doctoral studies?

I finished. It was about voyeurism, starting point was me as a voyeur- as I described you-when collecting materials. So I have my PhD.

Could you explain me a dream?

It is very hard to say this. But I am having nightmares, since I graduated Academy... My best dreams are those when I fly. It is so natural. I came back to this state in my dreams, and I remember how I was doing it before, at the dreams... I have the impression that I learn from someone how to fly. It is wonderful to be so light... (in a material and a non-material sense). It is light, bright and beautiful... I wish I will have this state tonight.

Julita Malinowska | A selection of works here

An interview by Juan Carlos Romero
Julita Malinowska website www.julitamalinowska.com
Photos by Czeslaw Czaplinski, Jacek Kozielski and Carmen Spitznagel courtesy of Julita Malinowska
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