Marcin Mikołajczak – a tireless hunter of adventures and emotions. A traveler who, using his camera, „hunts“ for unusual situations far away from civilization and finally a painter showing these extraordinary stories, their beauty, sadness, desires and authenticity of his heroes on canvas in the seclusion of his own studio. The known painter will tell us today about his inspirations, the beginnings of painting and his dreams, letting us for a while into his intimate and mysterious world, smelling of wild nature, exotic spices and fascination with the human body
and its soul.
Piotr Reich – Marcin, it is known that you travel, dive, paint, make unusual pieces of furniture; is there anything else that interests you and that you can talk about for hours?
Marcin Mikołajczak – Hmm… There are a few things, such as curiosity about other people, spirituality, the search for a life that is in harmony with nature, but there is also something prosaic…
PR – What is that?
MM – laughing – Cuisine! I like trying new dishes and flavors. On my travels, we wander with my partner Monika on unpaved roads, meet people and places that are reserved for local people rather than for a normal tourist. We are very open to all kind of new acquaintances as well as to local delicacies.
PR – Can you think of any special dishes that you had tried during your travels?
MM – Oh yes! First of all excellent frogs, prepared in different ways and delicious tarantula in red pepper sauce, which are served in Cambodia. After the war, the land was devastated and the inhabitants had to cope with the diet somehow. Therefore nothing is wasted there and we respect it by adapting to the lifestyle of the people who live there.
PR – Then maybe I’ll stick to my traditional cheese cake and apple pie.
MM – But I also love them very much! But that doesn’t bother me at all, to try out other unknown things and in this way to get to know the culture of the people in countries I travel to, and then to transfer this „knowledge” to the canvas.
PR – Since we are at painting, can you tell me how your adventure with it started?
MM – The first stage was the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznań, where I acquired my professional skills. A major step in the further development of my painting techniques was my stay in London and creation of graphics associated with this extraordinary city. It was a kind of turning point when it turned out that I could earn my livelihood by selling my own paintings. After my return to Poland, I was already convinced that this is the way I would like to go.
PR – But at the beginning of your artistic activity you didn’t deal with painting?
MM – That’s right. I came to a studio where painting frames were made. I made them manually by choosing material and color for the particular painting. Every frame was different, original and unique. The buyers were art galleries, museums and collectors. On my way I met at this time a very important man, Ryszard Kaja – the well-known screenwriter, poster artist and traveler. Together we have designed the decorations for Stary Browar (Old Brewery) in Poznań. We designed and made unusual and very individual pieces of furniture for this well-known art gallery and shopping mall. Designing of picture frames and furniture as well as conservatory work have contributed to the development of my own painting technique.
PR – You said that Ryszard Kaja was very important to you. Why?
MM – Yes, Ryszard has shown me the perspective to travel around the world and not confine myself to places that are visited by tourists and trampled with their feet. He was my guide who taught me not to be afraid and travel to all places I had dreamed of. He has convinced me and I actually reach places that I’m interested in as an artist and have an inspiring effect on me. I avoid health resorts and crowded beaches. Apart from my partner Monika and sometimes the children, I am accompanied on my travels by a group of proven friends. Kenya, Madagascar, Nicaragua, Costa Rica or Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia are my favorite travel destinations, but I’m still eager to get to know new places and new people.
PR – What is the impact of your travels on your artistic activities? Are they an inspiration for you or just one of the reasons to go on long travels?
MM – In principle, I can answer this question this way: I paint to earn money and use it for financing further travels. On my travels, I observe the everyday life of people that are unknown to me and exotic landscapes, experience various adventures, collect material for further paintings. I paint in order to travel and travel in order to paint. I simultaneously satisfy two passions. That’s the essence of my life and I express it in my works.
PR – Your paintings feature a very interesting technique – texture, application of many layers of paint, but also the unique expressiveness of the message. How do you succeed, Marcin, to achieve that?
MM – I have already mentioned the technique; it is a combination of my previous experience and result of many artistic experiments. Many people tell me that they can recognize my paintings and that they are characteristic for them. Besides, I try to show a certain sensitivity of my characters and “freeze” them in their movement. I think that our eyes are mirrors of the soul, so in my work their arrangement, shape, color and twinkle are crucial for the final message of the painting. Each time, I identify myself with the painted character and try to bring out their personality by giving them my own form.
PR – Do you have any special travel reminiscences, stories that have moved you and that you have subsequently immortalized in your paintings?
MM – Of course there are many of them. For example, a very poor family working in a salt mine in Bolivia. These people have hosted us although they haven’t had much to eat themselves; they shared their food with us and denied any refusal on our part. Under my eyelids, I still have the picture of their son, who was standing in the yard without one shoe and was tired after exhausting work. Another picture shows traders from Ha Long Bay in Vietnam selling fruit from boats or children from an elementary school in Namibia. We travelled for dozens of kilometers at that time without encountering any traces of civilization. Its only appearance was the school “in the middle of nowhere” and their thirsty for knowledge students. Such images of life teach humility and knock you down when you believe that a traffic jam in the city or lack of favorite drink in the store is a problem.
PR – Marcin, you have been painting professionally for some years and your paintings are probably more valued abroad than in Poland. Why is it so?
I can’t agree with you here. I sell my work both in Poland and to collectors from all over the world. I have my loyal fans both here and over there – laughter. And seriously, I am really happy that I have contact with people who like my work and I send paintings to the United States, South Africa, Switzerland, Canada, Turkey, Australia, Canada and many other countries. They also go to more exotic places such as recently on the island of Reunion. I think that my paintings convey such a universal message that they can be liked at any geographical latitude and longitude.
PR – The last cycle of your works, which involves African portraits, probably arouses the most emotions and in consequence those paintings are sold as hot cakes?
Thank you very much, I can’t complain about missing orders for my paintings. But it’s true; having painted works showing horses, nudes, dives, playing children, I started – as you put it nicely – painting African portraits. I show cultures that fascinate me, ethnic motifs and above all colors, colors that appeal to viewers with their own language. In addition, every buyer can see in my paintings something individual and reserved only for himself. I think those are the main reasons for the considerable success of those paintings.
PR – Marcin, please tell us what you are working on now.
MM – If I tell you, there will be no surprise! – laughter. But I’ll air the veil of mystery a little bit and say that I’m working on a different form of presentation and a new subject-matter of my works. I hope that they will find recognition. I invite all fans of painting to visit my official website www. marcinmikolajczak.com and follow my profile on FB www.facebook.com/MarcinMikolajczak.art
PR – Thank you for the interview and I wish you success in fulfilling all professional and private dreams.
MM – Thank you and I wish you the same.
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