I'm a Polish artist living in Cracow. My main fields of study at University were graphics and drawing. However, I understood very quickly that to express myself I need colour with its deepness and saturation. I started to draw some colourful illustrations for newspapers and magazines still on the basis of black and white sketches. The first serious colour experience came to me when I worked as a stained glass designer and painter. The colour going through the glass changed my mind and feelings. I realized that to show my message I must use colour in a more stable and consistent way rather than depend on the daylight. I also realized that painting was the best form for this expression – painting which depends on the use of colour. That’s why the use of colour is characteristic of my painting: colour formed me artistically, it increased my sensitivity and changed my thinking about composition. What also characterizes my works is the interest in people I’ve always had, in their inner lives, doubts, emotional fluctuations and moods, which I try to depict.

When I look at the surroundings and situations that are happening around me, I feel as if I were watching a kind of spectacle of human behaviour. The atmosphere and context of certain events are so expressive that they seem to be exaggerated. If we were to capture one of such scenes, we would get a bizarre picture in which human gestures and postures seem markedly different from those encountered in everyday life. We would also capture emotions at the moment of their release when they are the strongest and most genuine. Even without looking at the surroundings, one can come up with a similar situation and endow it with an air of reality. Intensify the feelings to the point of the absurd. Effect a mental and physical metamorphosis of an individual tossed between ecstasy and longing. But the images I create are real – they are based on nostalgic memories of times past. They still have the same power of expression, but they gain a timeless, universal value.

When I paint children on a field of roses ("Escape") I do not interfere with reality so much as when I paint the paper woman. But the context of the change is also different. A child’s innocent delight leads us into the world of dreams and discoveries which turns the closest surroundings into ‘something rich and strange’. But it is the tired, wrinkled face of a woman that causes anxious thoughts. The reality affects her completely, imposing its own characteristic features and changing her appearance. Her wrinkles are no longer mere signs of old age, but they gain an additional significance. The folded paper defines her shape as if there was nothing else about her. The naked girl under the bookshelf ("Books") is trying to examine her soul and the only thing that she can do to accomplish this is to expose herself. Does it make her more authentic? Her metamorphosis concerns her nudity, but physically she is still the same person.

The desire to hide yourself away in a field of sunflowers ("Sunflowers"), an unexpected kiss in the middle of the street ("Kiss"), a morning smile of an elderly lady in a window ("Window") – they represent an accumulation of positive emotions, which all of us feel. In my paintings I try to capture the moment of emotional escalation, the most important moment in which the characters depicted open up to others. The longing of the boy, the passion of a sudden kiss or feeding pigeons on a windowsill become a pretext for showing the gentleness and sensuality of human nature.

Solitude is a state which tends to appear more and more often in my works. Sometimes it is caused by situations or emotions; on other occasions, it is a conscious choice. It gives us time for reflection and for distancing ourselves from reality. It has a lot in common with intimacy. The experience of solitude makes us authentic. To be solitary, however, does not mean to be alone. On the contrary, it means to become connected with nature, to experience it more fully and deeply and in consequence to establish rapport with the whole universe. The characters depicted in my paintings are always placed in the surroundings which enhance solitude, but at the same time offer a safe haven, a place cut off from the outside world. It does not have to be a confined space, though. A piece of architecture or a landscape can also be seen as a separate, alien reality, as “the other.”

However, what is most important is characters and their emotional states. My aim is not to pin down their mood and determine whether a situation has definitely positive or negative connotations. Their emotions are complex, they pass through different stages, they grow stronger or diminish with time, which makes them true to life. A woman caught in the frame of unique light is sitting at a table and celebrating the day. From my perspective, the table and coffee cups are as important as the character because they create the setting, i.e. the room for releasing feelings. As morning changes into afternoon, the emotions also change (“Morning”, “Afternoon”). The two girls sitting on the wall (“Sisters”), deep in thought, seem distant, but they may be sharing a story. The juxtaposition of two different characters who do not communicate with each other creates a tension. I’m experimenting here, as I do in “Afternoon” and “Lovers,” with the use of very light colours. They bring out feelings and create a lot of space. The girl who finds colourful stones at the seaside (“Treasure”) does not see a reason for joy. She is suspicious and full of doubt. The painting captures a moment, celebrates a mystery, but also expresses anxiety and fear. In “Boy” man and nature become one. The boy has found his place in the universe and is feeling safe. Similarly to “Bird,” also “Boy” places the human in a more universal dimension. Solitude is also connected with finding an unusual companion (“Friends”) or discovering magic in leisure activities (“Game”). It wouldn’t exist without the surrounding nature, which becomes one with humans if only we let it so.

Being an integral part of reality, man gradually internalizes some of its features. He is no longer a separate entity, but becomes a representative of the place in which he finds himself. The scope of the change may range from a minor adjustment to a complete physical transformation, which results in a new artistic solution. This process generates positive or negative emotions expressive of man’s inner life.

For me, painting means showing a man and his story. The form and colour play a decisive role here. The former is nothing more than a few simple brush strokes, which bring out what is most important. The dominance of colour, its brightness and balancing on the edge of reality are also caused by images that stay alive in my memory. The feeling of heat, the scent of the air, the sound of the street are impressions based on colour. Therefore, my characters are shown in the context of these impressions. It is only then that they gain an authentic meaning. Painting is also a way of dealing with my own thoughts and confronting the surrounding reality. It is an intimate conversation with my viewer in which we both speak wordlessly about things that are important – our needs and feelings.

Maciej Gador