Temptation, a lyrical abstract by Stefan Fiedorowicz, oil on canvas 2010
Deanna Elaine Piowaty: Stefan, I’ve noticed that many of your works are about relationships. Do you find that your intimate connections with others deeply influence what you paint? Even the colors you choose to use? The shapes and forms, light and dark?
Stefan Fiedorowicz: Yes. This is what I have discovered recently in my personal life–that relationships are vital. When I paint I seem to concentrate on my relationships. Sometimes I paint according to a piece of music I am listening to. This brings up for me an emotion which I duplicate on to my canvas.
I am what is commonly referred to as a lyrical abstract artist, which essentially means that my art concerns self and personal expression.
And With Love And Care The Spider Weaves
Deanna Elaine Piowaty: Are you more passionate and productive as an artist when your heart is full of joy? Or pain?
Stefan Fiedorowicz: It’s a mixture of both states actually. But I do find that in a state of emotional pain, my work seems to flow out. I used to paint landscapes and such, representational work. But I prefer the abstract. You can say a lot about human relationships in an abstract form. For example, I did a piece called, “Your Shadow Still Lingers Here,” and if you look, you can see what I am trying to express about my relationship with my mother who died years ago. I was feeling like she was still here in the real world because I sensed her presence.
Your Shadow Still Lingers Here, 80cm x 80cm oil, a lyrical abstract by Stefan Fiedorowicz 2011
Stefan Fiedorowicz: The act of painting is always ongoing for me. I am always discovering aspects about myself and others as well. And the goal for me as an artist is also to evoke some universal emotion.
Deanna Elaine Piowaty: And so when you painted this piece…? What happened emotionally for you?
Stefan Fiedorowicz: A feeling of being with my mother in a spiritual sense. It may not only be a sensation I feel but also a memory of that person. I suppose it also gave me a closer connection to her when I painted it.
Deanna Elaine Piowaty: You mentioned previously that you are also teaching yourself to play the flute. Is painting like music for you in this way? A nonverbal way of connecting that takes you deeper?
Stefan Fiedorowicz: Yes, definitely. They both go hand in hand. Music and art give life meaning for me. Art and music are life. Music has brought me to tears. With the painting I have just been describing, people always leave traces. No person is without a shadow. We are all connected. All parts of a whole. The Gestalt way of looking at life.
From the Series, Essence Beyond Form
Deanna Elaine Piowaty: So you are acting as a guide? Creating a path for others to follow to their own self-understanding and discovery? You are leaving breadcrumbs and signs along the way?
Stefan Fiedorowicz: Maybe I am acting as a guide. I have never thought of it that way though. Oh that is an interesting way of saying it…leaving breadcrumbs. If they can relate to it because of their own personal experience then I think I have accomplished something.
A River Keeps its Secrets
Stefan Fiedorowicz: It is a wonderful thing to be able to share my art, and now with so many more people through my artist page on Facebook. The internet has brought art into people’s lives and into their homes.
Deanna Elaine Piowaty: Yes, I have seen this and find it very exciting. There has been criticism, though, when I discuss this with artist friends of mine, that the internet also encourages a briefer exchange between art and audience, that the viewer assesses a piece quickly and then moves on, rather than taking time to immerse oneself deeply. Do you see this as a drawback? Are we as a people becoming satisfied with just the quick peek? Does this hurt the artist? Or, since more people are discovering art, is more art being sold and put in our homes to enjoy?
Stefan Fiedorowicz: I have thought about that myself. I think that if we are serious about art then we seek it out intentionally. I think also that people may be too quick to judge the aesthetics of a work of art. They sometimes seem to just go by immediate first impressions: they either like a work or don’t. But the internet, I do believe, is the only way to go nowadays, for the artist is given the opportunity to show their work to millions of people. And there are collectors and galleries who are deliberately searching the web, looking for new work. How did the artist years ago do it? Not as easily as it is nowadays, that is for certain. I do believe that art is being sold more readily on the internet as well. It’s more convenient but also people tend to feel more comfortable spending money over the internet. There is an element of trust. Connecting on social networks is just very important.
Deanna Elaine Piowaty: Yes. You are able to create a following of friends who get to know you both as artist and as a man.
Stefan Fiedorowicz: I think it is also very crucial as an artist to know other artists. When I moved to Vienna, I thought it was important for me to test the waters with my art. But then I discovered that I also needed to connect with other artists to learn the ways and establish relationships. I actually prefer to have group exhibitions for that very reason.
Deanna Elaine Piowaty: This is lovely. Some artists, writers, musicians have confided in me that at least when they were starting out and still in the process of defining themselves that they don’t like to expose themselves to what others are creating. They are afraid they will subconsciously copy others’ pieces.
Stefan Fiedorowicz: That is probably very true. I like to think that I am still an “emerging artist,” someone who is changing all the time. And yes, I do have that fear. But I do not let that isolate me.
The Space Between Us
Deanna Elaine Piowaty: Please tell me about how you use color, Stefan.
Stefan Fiedorowicz: I approach a blank canvas as if I was a matador confronting a bull. It is frightening for me. The canvas is my palette. I squeeze oil paint on to the canvas, colors which I have chosen to interact with each other. One by one, I start working the oil, attempting to pull out the essence of the color by working it over and over again.
As mentioned earlier, I prefer to paint with music playing, but at times I chose to get lost in silence–a silence that can be heard, and it is just the canvas and me with no distractions. Oh, I love ochre, alarzin crimson, and vermillion red, orange chrome! It is the interaction of these colors that interests me.
I have found that most viewers search to find something recognizable in a piece of work. This is how we are as humans. We are driven by the need to put meaning to everything. I often hear people making comments like, “Oh, I see a _____.” Or, “that looks like an _____.” Abstract art, I think, needs to be exactly what it is: abstract. It forces us to think more deeply into a piece of work to find its abstract meaning. Rarely do I like to leave something that is recognizable in a piece of work. It is the color and shape that interests me, and how the colors interact. I mostly use palette knifes to obtain highly textured effects, applying thick oil to obtain actual texture, which enhances emotion, depth and meaning to a piece of work.
An Untapped Potential Is Truly Amazing
But I do not believe in pre-planning a piece of work. Abstract art must be spontaneous: whatever comes out, comes out. This is the part of my work that is the most thrilling to me: What happens next? Lyrical abstractions require the viewer to contemplate, study and ask themselves: “What am I feeling?” I enjoy being a part of the interactive experience with the person viewing a piece of my work. Yes, we need to make sense of things, but do you want to know something? The alternative way to take in art would be to respond purely by emotion, yes? To the color, shape, texture, lights and darks, without deciphering it. Just to be present with it and…feel. Suddenly the world is upside down. Common sense is not so obvious anymore.
Breaking Away From It All
And even then, feeling is merely one way of interpreting art. What attracts me most of all is the visual effect it has on me. I want to viewer to be moved emotionally by a finished piece, whether they go away with a positive or negative opinion, that does not really matter to me.
Gazing into An Abyss
Deanna Elaine Piowaty: Can an abstract work of art be upsetting?
Stefan Fiedorowicz: Upsetting for the artist your mean? Or the viewer?
Deanna Elaine Piowaty: Either.
Stefan Fiedorowicz: When I am painting at times, I can become so frustrated by what I see…so I change it. That is the beauty of abstract. It changes as you change. It is a process. I can do whatever I wish with my painting. I have complete control of what it is I am doing, so I suppose there is some logic to it. And then there are those aspects in a piece of art that the unconscious mind relates to. Some aspect that the unconscious mind brings to the viewer’s attention.
The Feminine Side Of Divinity
Deanna Elaine Piowaty: For you, when you’re painting, have you ever been surprised by emotions that have come up that you weren’t even aware you were feeling?
Stefan Fiedorowicz: Happens all the time.
Deanna Elaine Piowaty: Even those times when you have placed a clear intention that you were going to do a painting that celebrated a love affair, or your feelings of connection to your mother? Have you surprised yourself with emotions that were brought up that perhaps you might not have tapped into otherwise?
Stefan Fiedorowicz: I sometimes have to stop myself to reflect upon what it is I am doing and feeling. Sometimes there is confusion, and when there is, I end up having to change what I am doing, to feel that flow again, that easy flow. I am constantly in a state of change as I think most people are. Yes, I can honestly say that I am surprised. The end result may never turn out to be what I originally intended to do. Even in those situations.
Deanna Elaine Piowaty: And isn’t that always the path to creating something new? We cannot imagine that new thing at first, for we only can conceive of what is already known. Isn’t it only through hitting a dead-end, a block in the path we had intended to follow, that we are forced to improvise a new direction, and that is where creativity happens?
Stefan Fiedorowicz: Absolutely. Dead on. You cannot push it. It has to happen by some other force.
Deanna Elaine Piowaty: Have you ever given a name to that “other force”?
Stefan Fiedorowicz: I do believe that there is a spiritual element to being an artist. I truly believe that. A guiding force that cannot be explained in terms of something tangible. I believe in the spiritual world.
Deanna Elaine Piowaty: Do you believe there is a universal awareness that we all share and tap into?
Stefan Fiedorowicz: There is something spiritual about the connection that we have with nature, with our fellow human being. We are all somehow interconnected. There is energy in everything living on this planet, and it must have come from somewhere.
Into The Mystic
Deanna Elaine Piowaty: When did you know this was what you were meant to do?
Stefan Fiedorowicz: I was seven or eight years old. I fell in love with coloring books and drawing birds. I loved birds, still do. It was the colors of their feathers… During my adolescence, I applied to go to an art school. I was accepted based on my portfolio. My parents, however, could not afford to send me, so sadly I put my passion on hold until later when I went to university, studied the history of art, and. after raising a family, I ended up having suddenly time on my hands. So now I paint. And I also teach art, here in Vienna. I have a secret..from a spiritual point of view. I believe I was given a gift. And now I am nurturing it.
Deanna Elaine Piowaty: And do you feel you value this gift all the more because you had to wait so long to express it?