From Mentality to Physicality
MAGDALENA Karol is a Polish expat currently working and studying as an artist in Waterford. She graduated from Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) with a BA Hons in Visual Arts in 2012. Having immigrated to Ireland less than ten years ago, I asked Magda about the influence being away from home has had on her work. She said, “Emigrating didn’t influence my work so much as it strengthened the feelings that I paint with, because of the distance between myself and my home.”
Along with the experience of migrating to a new home, Magdalena has an educational background in a variety of subjects including Mechanical Engineering, Interior Design and Architecture. Magda explains that, “After studying all of these subjects, I came to Ireland for two months, and I ended up staying for ten years. I studied art and finally discovered my true self within it.”
Ten years is plenty of time for any one person to settle into a country and Magdalena has built up a strong community of people around her that are supportive and encouraging of her career as an artist. However, does Magdalena ever feel certain pressures from her female friends that are now beginning a life of motherhood and marriage? “Yes, some of my friends are married and others are with child, but I always say that art is my child. It really means that much to me.”
Magda has a similar opinion when explaining her views on marriage and relationships, stating that you should be well established as a person before entering a long term commitment with someone, “otherwise you can lose yourself and forget who you are.”
A widely lit studio space overlooking Lombard Street in Waterford is where Magdalena never allows herself to lose focus of where she wants to go with her art. “In the first moments of painting I have to push myself, but then I reach a point where I lose conscious awareness and paint only what I feel.” After months of painting, Magda reflects on her works and sees a ‘visual diary’ where she can then understand what she was going through in her life at that time. It is this honesty and purity that creates an attractive ambience around Magdalena’s paintings. People recognise, and then connect with, a vulnerability in her works that is delicate and somewhat sorrowful.
The presence of grace in Magda’s work is both contrasted and combined with physicality in her most recent pieces. By focusing less on painting, which has been her primal medium all of her life, and now experimenting with live performance, Magda feels she has ‘jumped forward in the progression of visually articulating concepts’. Painting is an isolated medium that is usually worked with over long periods of time in privacy. In contrast, performance is a social, immersive and physically communicative act, which is a large aspect of why Magdalena has been drawn to the medium. “I can perform the same piece multiple times to various audiences and each time they bring something new to the work, so it is constantly changing and developing.”
Recent work by Magdalena investigates the absence of a connection between the body and mind in mental and personality disorders. Transitioning from the quiet, mentally focused and contemplative work of painting, to the bodily and external concerns of performance art, Magdalena’s concept may be evident in more aspects of her life than she is aware of. Magdalena is now finishing her MA in Performance Art at WIT and has an upcoming show at Avenue Festival, Waterford on July 12th at Waterford City Hall.