Barbara Porczynska - 2020 Art Competition Runner Up

Hello Barbara! Congratulations again on winning 2nd place at the 2020 Art Competition. How was the experience of applying for the competition and the resulting process like for you?

It was certainly a very emotional journey! When sending the application, I honestly didn't know what to think. I don't think I was counting to get too much out of the experience. I remember that I thought to at least qualify for the Art Magazine would be great. And it happened, I saw my painting on the entire 32nd page in the magazine. After that, I really wanted to appear at the on-line exhibition. As I eat, my appetite grows, so going through the stages increased my hope for more.

It was fantastic to be among the 20 finalists. I will not deny that I was already counting on the podium then - and I got it! It is true that my painting was not a winner, but to beat so many great artists from different countries and be placed second is a great honour for me.

Please tell us: What was the inspiration behind your winning painting ‘Untamed Fears?

The painting "Untamed Fears" was inspired by my very personal experiences related to the reality that surrounded me. 2020 was a very difficult year, and also extremely busy. I had to face my fears and weaknesses: my body, under the influence of too much stress, because of too many responsibilities, started playing tricks on me. I've faced my own demons. Additionally, being locked up at home due to a pandemic did not make it easier for me to regain my balance. I had to tame my fears, but it wasn't easy. Hence the title "Untamed Fears".

"Untamed Fears" is very important to me. I showed my emotions and how I felt. Despite the fact that the figure in the painting is shaky, she tries to remain calm. She is aware of her condition. He stares intensely at one point. The right hand nervously grips the left hand below the elbow. Outlines of mammoths can be seen in the background. I was inspired by the genesis of fears and the rock paintings from Lascaux. Well, contrary to what people says, fear helped mankind to survive. It was this evolutionary mechanism used to defend humans against the impending dangers of tigers or mammoths that helped us to survive. It sends a signal: run or fight.

As long as fear does not take over human life, it can be very helpful, for example, in building social bonds. On the other hand, problems arise when the fear becomes so great and burdensome that it does not allow people to function freely. It is terrible how many people struggle with all sorts of anxiety disorders. The fight alone against the invisible enemy, not really understanding what's wrong. Depression. I believe that this type of disorder should be spoken of loudly. This is a very important topic that should be taken up, to make the society aware of how big the problem is. It is impossible to get rid of fears, they will always accompany us. But you can learn to live with them and learn to tame "Untamed Fears".

That is a beautiful and powerful message. Well, tell us more about Barbara, the artist. Is there an art movement or artists that you love to see and have influenced your work?

Asking about my favourite artists is always a complicated one for me. It's hard for me to list all the artists who have influenced my work. I appreciate both representational art and abstract art. Ancient and contemporary art. Feminist art is certainly important to me, it has indeed been a source of a lot of inspiration. However, from a strictly workshop point of view, Rembrandt certainly inspires me the most - his painting technique invariably impresses me. Among Polish artists, I must mention the wonderful Olga Boznańska and Jacek Malczewski.

And what do you wish someone knew about your work when they look at it?

I think my work can appeal to many people. A lot of women can identify with my alter-ego, with MaMalarka. In the context of identity, motherhood is still a very important topic for art and culture. In my work, I try to convey universal truths, without idealizing or pretending anything.

On top of being an amazing artist, you are also a writer and editor. How does that impact your creative work?

Like painting, writing is also an especially important part of me. I am a "bookworm", I love reading, writing about art, but also creating my own stories. Several of my stories have been published in the literary and artistic periodical FRAZA. My painting is often intertwined with my literary work. For my master's degree, I made 20 paintings illustrating my stories that I wrote based on dreams. The series was entitled "Hard Night Dreams".

I have a lot of notebooks in which I write down thoughts, dreams or write down quotes from books I have read. Currently, as part of my doctorate, I am preparing a project entitled "MaMalarka" (MamArtist) - which is supposed to be a kind of immersion into the everyday world of a woman-mother-artist, where everyday rituals as well as unexpected events give the course and meaning. It's a world in between. Between painting, an object, a word. Between the sacred and the profane. It is a world full of contradictions and a woman's constant struggle for her own identity.

Barbara, we thank you very much for your participation in the competition and for sharing your thoughts with us! We can't wait to see more of your work, and we wish you all the best in your very promising art career.