Everything that surrounds me directly influences the topics of my works, however, the most important source of inspiration is always the theater, I don’t mean only the space itself but human being existing in it with the peculiar nature. I do not try to reconstruct reality nor comment on it. I rather consider my painting as studies of emotions and sensual experiences and treat it as an intimate diary of complexity and diversity of human nature.
Study at Academy of Fine Arts, Faculty of Painting & Set Design. Painter, set designer, designer co-founder of design group Substance. A several dozen collective and solo painting exhibitions in Poland, USA, Germany, Sweden, Spain, France, UK, Italy, Austria, Greece, Chech Republic, Taiwan.
“Undoubtedly, such mainspring of art for me is theater – the most important source of inspiration and spiritual experiences both, as a viewer and an artist. Both aspects are equally important for me anyway. The first directly influences the topics of my paintings (related not so much to the theatrical space itself, as to the human being existing in it). The second one makes my paintings come to life and gives them tree-dimensional characteristic. My paintings do not try to reconstruct reality nor comment on it. On the one hand, I consider them studies of human nature, emotions, sensual experiences and moods. On the other hand, it becomes the first stage of the world constructed of this scenic reality.“ – Anna Bocek
ICONS OF MODERN TIMES
by Pawel Huelle
Paweł Huelle is a novelist and poet. He was born in Gdańsk and graduated in Polish Philology at the University of Gdańsk. He has worked in that city as an employee of the “Solidarity” press office, university lecturer, journalist, director of the Gdansk Polish Television Center and, most recently, as a columnist for “Gazeta Wyborcza”. Honoured with many prestigious literary awards, Huelle is one of the most successful contemporary Polish writers.
His first novel Who Was David Weiser (1987) was hailed by the critics as “the book of the decade,” “a masterpiece” and “a literary triumph” and has been published, among others, in Germany, Spain, France and Finland.
On a scorching afternoon this June, I met Anna Bocek in the Old City of Gdańsk under rather unusual circumstances, at the opening of the Amber Museum. The presence of the artist was not accidental as her design was used to arrange the interior and the amber treasure exhibition in the medieval walls.
The modern and daring production clearly showed the experience gained by Anna in her set design work for many, often famous, plays. However, the main area of artistic expression for Anna Bocek has always been painting. This conscious choice sets her roots and sources of fascination in European expressionism; however, she does not simply continue this trend or its postmodernist parodic development.
One could say that the figures and faces painted by Anna are expressionistic in spirit as a result of her deep psychological fascination in man. The brilliantly captured gestures, grimaces and emotional states, as if with feminine intuition, are a real gallery of the most diverse dreams, depressions, ridiculousness, pride, sometimes reflection and melancholy. Moreover, these images of men and women are a clear sign of the artist’s distress: our modern life in mega cities means passing by hundreds and thousands of human faces, every one of them with its history, drama and individuality.
A mass character of modern culture and our limited perceptions exclude any personification of this unique stream of information. Suffice it to make a simple exercise: how many faces seen during the last underground or bus journey are still in our memory? Have they given us some important information? Emotion? Fascination? Anna Bocek tries to extract from this magma what is the most interesting to an artist: differentiating, individual and outstanding elements that form an icon in modern times. Unlike Andy Warhol, who only reproduced what was repeated and popular.
Perhaps this is the reason why the painter is searching in expressionism for some communication techniques. With these strong means of expression, she wants to leave a permanent trace in her and the viewer’s memory. At the same time, she is perverse, ironic and witty, which adds true value to her studies of faces and figures. Her pictures also remain in one’s memory because they are very subtly based on deep archetypes of our consciousness.
They use colour and light contrasts boldly, often drawing psychological or social situations of people depicted. However, her images are not journalistic: the painter deprives neither media men nor sociologists of their jobs. Rather from her work they can learn many interesting things about us: entangled in modern times like in an enormous, gigantic network of visual information. Painting means reflection, not production. This simple, though often forgotten truth, is brilliantly reminded by Anna Bocek.