Lukasz Olek (born in 1982, Warsaw).
Applied graphic designer, illustrator, and creative director with several advertising agencies for over 15 years. He has now associated his professional life with the English agency MiltonBrown, where as Art Director and Executive Producer he coordinates film and video productions. After years of drawing with pencil and ink, he has now discovered the colors of acrylic paints.
He creates mainly dark, large-format abstractions and tourist portraits. Fascinated by the works of Francis Bacon, Marek Rothko, and Lucian Freud. In his works, he often focuses on the study of texture and colour by resorting to non-obvious materials and media.
Hello Lukasz! Tell me more about “Blinkered”.
Lukasz: “Blinkered” is a series of abstract and non-obvious landscapes. It was inspired by the journeys I often take to get lost, leaving highways for dirt roads, looking for places where others do not venture. I often find ones that evoke strong emotions – anxiety, sadness, nostalgia but, sometimes they also bring about peace and joy. When transferring landscapes to canvas, my first endeavour is to reflect the feelings they bring about, and only then do I move on to portraying the place itself. I look for a form to reflect the view in the simplest possible way, and, at the same time, to convey the whole range of emotions accompanying my reception of the original landscape to the recipient. Hence the forms of lakes, sunsets, forests, simple at first glance, reveal more the closer you look. Here, in calm brush strokes and gentle gradients, elsewhere, in dynamic and aggressive scratches and textures. I try to create such images so the viewer – who repeatedly, day after day, see them on his or her wall – can discover new accents and sink into the painted world deeper and deeper.
What is your process of creation? Do you have any rituals that help you get motivated or in “the zone”?
Lukasz: The most important thing is an inspiration. I invariably draw from lonely hikes to strange, secluded places. So, firstly – the locations. Even before painting abstract landscapes, I must find them, together with the impressions and emotions that accompany them. Secondly – the music. It is always with me. I hate painting in silence. Music gets me in the mood and brings my focus to the creative process. Thirdly – the night. I always start with the concept when it’s dark. I work best at night. Fourthly – the coffee. Alternated with wine.
What inspired your artwork “Inevitable End” I love it.
Lukasz: A long time ago, to get to one of my first jobs (very low-paid and short-termed), I had to get up at dawn and lumber along to the other side of the city on public transport. The final stretch of my commute to the mystical office, that corporate Narnia, I had to plough through the sidewalks buried in snow. Many years later, as a stroll down the memory lane – also in the winter and at the crack of dawn – I revisited that commute. I tried to see some positives in the turbo-bleak landscape and mega-weak memories but found none. Nothing but the sad, empty fields, ditches flooded with water, and withered grey-brown bushes. It was hopeless. That terminus of the commuter bus route in the winter. And the bottomless feeling that nothing in life can change. The conviction that you’re doomed to wade in the knee-deep snow slush until the end of time, trying not to starve… Of course, that impression turned out to be a load crap but memories are memories. They are what they are.
When did you first realize that you have wonderful gift making art?
Lukasz: I started drawing in my young years, mostly surreal monstrosities, which, inevitably, brought me closer to meeting the school psychologist. Later, as a graphic designer, I dealt with utility graphics and corporate identification. At that time, I considered them to be more of a craft than an art. It was only after I sold the first painting that I thought of my creations as art. The moment when someone is willing to pay, to get into possession of some of your emotions and hang them on the wall, is amazing.
What motivates you as an artist? Is it curiosity, the search for beauty or meaning? And is there a message you are trying to give with your art?
Lukasz: To me, art is a kind of therapy. It’s a process that lets me calm down and, in an organized way, shed the excess of the emotions I’ve been accumulating. It is also a form fight with the pointless but ubiquitous haste, disorder and anxiety that keeps bugging me.
What’s your favourite artwork you’ve ever done?
Lukasz: It’s hard to choose just one piece. In the process of creation, I build a relationship with each of my works. I finish them, and then, alternately, see them as good or utterly bad. But, when I finally part with the painting, I usually find it to be not so bad after all. Mostly, however, it’s those whose creation brought me the greatest emotions that I remember the longest.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
Lukasz: When I started painting, my mom told me “not to worry [about my results] because she had seen worse crap in art galleries”. Perhaps that’s what motivated me to improve my skills.
Is there any particular subject you found especially challenging to work on? If so, why?
Lukasz: It is not so much a specific subject, but rather a way of working. I find custom-made paintings to be the most demanding because such works must meet not only my requirements but also that of the client’s. The creative process often encourages you to follow a direction that ultimately diverges from the intended one. And the knowledge that I can’t take that turn is hellishly frustrating.
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