Maintenance Frederick Porcher, philosopher, with Erwann Tirilly.
⁃ What is the origin of your new show?
This exhibition is organized around two main series: Fictions and Atlas.
The Fictions series is part of the desire to create a mythology, propose an opaque and mysterious narrative taking place over thirty scenes. To construct this narrative, I amalgamated the themes I stare at for a long time: psychoanalysis, the medical world, and religious iconography. I thought of the paintings that could resemble dreams or nightmares, but with these specific references.
I like to produce double meaning, create puzzles by turning the aesthetics of sacred art. So I used allegorical images, symbols with several levels of connotations.
I have long been restorer of stained glass windows, it is surely there that comes my taste for iconic representations and my fascination with the forms taken by the story of the Bible. The route is reversed in my work. Implicitly my paintings refer to a mystical and introspective narrative whose scope is expanding with each new series of paintings.
For Fictions I really wanted to emphasize movement and the spaces between images.
I like to think that this series of paintings could be the matrix of a film.
⁃ It seems to me that you work on smaller sizes than usual, and also more systematic. Why did you make this choice?
I chose to work on smaller formats to accentuate the narrative character of the series. With this type of format, I can make a tight grip on a large wall, the series can be read as a whole, and the look easily flows from one painting to another. This display is also reference to other interactions between images such as playing cards or those of medieval stained glass medallions.
Usually on large formats, I assemble the elements within a single image for tinkering hybrid icons. With this new series, things are broken.
The unique height set at 60 cm poses a landmark that leaves me more freedom to graft very different elements, while keeping an overall unity.
⁃ A human figure comes in a lot of your paintings: a man, shaved head, often shirtless, always or usually in motion, and you disfigured sometimes ... Why this motto?
In fact, I almost systematically used to, on the one hand, mean that what I watch is not the portrait - I want to clearly extract myself from this category. And, secondly, to play with the accumulation effect. Past a certain threshold repeat, I think that body becomes a pattern; at least for me it is clear, it allows me to decline the different situations while showing that I am not referring to anyone in particular, but to human beings in general. This is also why I disfigures, I want to make some kind of compression of humanity.
With the prospect of a mythological construction, it is almost necessary to have signs and recurring representations recognizable. All this remains a game, but even to play, this is clearly a deification.
The choice of shaved just my taste for the blueprint. I find it very annoying to have to paint a hair because it eroticized images, it evokes a style too often, the aesthetic of an era. This is also the case for the shaved head that has become commonplace today, but nevertheless always returns to forms of political radicalism, musical or spiritual. These multiple connotations and allow me to bring ambiguity, tension ...
So, this body becomes like an avatar. Most people who do not know me think that I paint self-portraits, as it is a kind of paint that does not please me. I think what is important is to go through another body to release me from narcissism, and develop my own personal language.
⁃ Getting back to the canvas where the center appears the inscription "
Unheimlichkeit "Which gives the impression to fade gradually. Is this intentional? Can you tell us why this reference to Freud I guess ...
I love artists like Ed Ruscha that brilliantly manipulating the words in their paintings. Nevertheless I am very wary of the painted words, because they quickly become slogans can restrict playback of images. In fact, so far, I am always limited myself to tracks that are very important, as they can redefine an image. This time, the title enters the picture. The wispy word processing Unheimlichkeit which disappears gradually suggests the disappearance of certainties, reassuring the rationality of everyday life.
I take the Freudian concept because it sums up what I seek in painting. I often try to represent the unconscious of my character by showing scenes that evoke the dream and sometimes even the psychiatric disorder. I use projective identification to build my stories and arrange the paintings from each other.
This notion of "the uncanny" is very evocative for me, it evokes rocking moments that are interesting since they involve mutations. This idea of unheimlich I also refer to the films of David Lynch. I like his way of tipping the daily (normative) to anxiety. His cinema has a great influence on my work, especially his use of characters with multiple identities.
Still, I see also a link between this and feeling dizzy the liturgical performances. When I paint scenes of falling or floating body in space, I think these psychological tilting moments, but I am also referring to the representations of baptism or ascension. In this vein, I would also mention the Bill Viola videos that impressed me. The painting imposes the constraint of the still image that becomes in this case an advantage because we do not know the direction of movement: Climbing can be a fall, the loss can be read like an apparition.
⁃ Another characteristic of your work : You love erasures or, to put it otherwise, undo some faces or shapes that you have previously made. You do not like some artists who leave
their unfinished works, but it seems to me you undo what you have done, or at least you erasures ... What do you think about this remark? Is it consistent with your intentions?
It's just. I have more and more trouble keeping a face not erased, it refers to the refusal to paint the portrait. I'm picking on the eyes and mouth, it is a symbolic violence that escapes me a bit, it's almost become a reflex. The lack of eyes, prevented the floor ... I like the side "deaf" that this practice brings to painting.
Add an erasure or a trace on a finished painted surface also implies that there is hidden, what I watch is composed of several layers. A bit like the feeling of identity, perceiving the traces of a building can be considered a deconstruction, modification. It's a way to take power on certain determinism.
The disfigurement also makes direct reference to the paintings of Francis Bacon, my first great artistic revelation!
⁃ Why is the anatomy so present in your painting (the skeleton, the heart, the mouth, sex, eyes etc.)? It is as if you wanted to make each body a separate topic ...
Yes it's true, sometimes I use the organs such as icons, a bit like the "sacred heart" that is often found on the windows. It's almost a way to connect anatomy, science to religious iconography.
In Fictions series, there is such a painting called Urano sex. It is an immaculate body, topped with a medallion in which I painted male genitalia. I placed there as a totem, it symbolizes a biological function but also an identity construction.
I have a real fascination for the functioning of every organ and their disturbing beauty. They always carry a strong symbolic, perhaps because the body has been taboo for so long. With the incredible advances in medicine, the human body is considered differently today, our old representations flicker.
When I paint the intestines or brain, it is a way to probe the human body, to seek where does our humanity. I think I have come here not so loud price to the portrait : That some seek in a glance, I seek respect to me directly in the bowels.
"ATLAS is a collection of paintings that offers an allegory of the cosmos, showing side by side, plants, human bodies, minerals and stars.
This work sometimes evokes the Middle Ages and the Renaissance by the presence of radiant halos, light strokes from the sky. The forms in the advanced Eikona series are inspired by the polyptych by Lippo di Benivieni (14th century). These references to art history are diverted and mixed with a scientific record, notably with contemporary
astronomical views. By designating these different points in space, I imagine a topography of the universe from chasms of the earth to galaxies and I suggest a game of scale with space and time. "
Fumo Gallery interview
Graduated at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, Lidia Kostanek is a Polish sculptor in constant evolution, whose figurative sculptures are capable of amazing the viewer through a skillfull union of perfect form and provocative meaning. Before discovering and dedicating herself to contemporary sculpture, she has worked with and experienced many techniques, from drawings to etching, which has given her the chance to explore and master so many materials that proved to be extremely useful in her later sculptural works.
Through her figurative sculptures Lidia is far from being reluctant to explore erotism and arouse it in the viewer. Her work stands between the border of the real and irreal life and her aim is to explore the complexity of emotions through seemingly surreal scenarios.
The many and varuious sculpture materials she uses give life to bizarre and intruguing sculptural works, such as masks and faces of violent beauty, male and female genitals, subjects that recurr in a sort of stratification, transformed and sometimes overlapped bodies: works of art that are brutal and delicate at the same time, capable of provoking and arousing strong emotions. Hers is a very meticolous and skillfull work, at the edge of the surreal.
Through her work, Lidia tries to examine both our weaknesses and our strong points, our dreams and our realities. She is continously exploring notions of idealized femininity and masculinity to challenge binary gender notions and, with her own words “I’m seeking to invent a new relation to the body”.
Lidia Kostanek lives and works in France.
Interview with Figurative Sculptures Artist Lidia Kostanek.
FG: If you should tell someone the story of your life, from where would you start?
LIDIA KOSTANEK: From My childhood.
I made a long journey since there, but it was a very important period : the base. I was a very solitary child, close to the nature and my close family, living in my own world inhabited by gleams and shadows. I’m sill reaching out from this period the treasures, but also some dirt and dust.
FG: What draws you to art, in general, and to sculpture in particular?
LIDIA KOSTANEK: I’ve wanted to become an artist ever since I was a child. I graduated from high school of visual arts, then the Academy of Fine Arts of Warsaw, but I still didn’t feel like an artist… I was not self-confident at all. I was advised to choose a “real” profession. So, I worked as a graphic designer for several years, until a day when I couldn’t stand computers any more. I needed to come back in art studio, to feel the touch and the smell of a paper, a paint, or… a clay. The sculpture was a revelation to me. The clay unlocked my uncertainty, my fears. It helped me transform rage into a strength.
FG: What are your favourite subjects and the major themes you deal with in your work? Is there a technique you prefer?
LIDIA KOSTANEK: Through my work, I try to examine both our weaknesses and our strengths ; the unbearable lightness of being. I challenge and explore notions of an idealized femininity. I’m seeking to invent a new relation to the body and to gender issues…
I’m not attached to a specific technique. It’s just a way to reach my objectives. I’m still searching.
FG: How have your style, practice and techniques evolved over the years?
LIDIA KOSTANEK: At school my favorite area was a painting. I continued artistic quest through drawing, collage, engraving…
At this point, I am considering combining ceramic sculpture with other materials, other medias.
I’d like to return to painting one day. Will see…
FG: Choose three words to describe your work.
LIDIA KOSTANEK: Disturbing : delicate and brutal at once.
FG: What are your creative approach and creation process like? How do you conceptualize and think about each of your pieces?
LIDIA KOSTANEK: Sometimes it’s an idea of subject who comes at first, and I try to find a right form to catch it;
other times it’s a image who appears like an evidence, and the meaning of it comes during a process of creation.
FG: Can you mention an artist, artwork or series of art projects that particularly influenced/inspired you in you work as an artist?
LIDIA KOSTANEK: I am fascinated by the brutal aspects of nature, old masters’ works, medieval or renaissance art, and of course I admire artists like Alina Szapocznikow, Kiki Smith, Louise Bourgeois, Carol Rama…
I’m sensitive to different types of art : contemporary dance, video installation, poetry.
FG: When was the first time a work of art drew you? What was it?
LIDIA KOSTANEK: My father was an art teacher, he had many art books. I can still remember the pattern on the living room carpet, where I would sit and look through his books. I remember the square pages of the books, containing all the old masters’ work : the naked body of St. Sebastian, pierced by arrows ; twisted and dismembered bodies in Hieronymus Bosch’s visions of hell, and so many more. It was like seeing dead birds or cats : both scary and irresistibly fascinating at the same time.
FG: Which is the most provocative/courageous/original action you made as an artist?
LIDIA KOSTANEK: I like the idea of multi-layer interpretation. My work can be provocative for some people. Everyone sees what he wants to see : it depends on the prism of his experience, education, sensibility…
Some people are shocked or disgusted in confrontation with some of my pieces. Others are truly moved : they approach me to confide their intimate experiences.
In art we see our own reflection, like in the mirror. Sometimes we may not like it.
FG: What is the best advice you get as an artist?
LIDIA KOSTANEK: Keep going.
FG: What are your future projects? What are you working on at the moment?
LIDIA KOSTANEK: I have several exhibitions planned for the coming months, it requires some logistic.
Otherwise, I start a new sculpture project about “body mask”. I don’t know yet, where it will lead me.
I have to keep focused.