BELGIUM-BASED ARTISTS KATARZYNA & MARCIN OWCZAREKS' SURREALIST WORKS OFFER ALTERNATIVE WAYS OF LOOKING AT REALITY.
MILIA WALLENIUS | ARTICULATE #22 | JAN 2020
Belgium-based artists Katarzyna (b. 1983) and Marcin Owczarek (b. 1985) have been working together since 2016. Their surrealistic pieces are all about telling stories, and their art about having something to say.
Katarzyna and Marcin mainly work with photography, collage and painting, which at times are brought together in detailed mixed media pieces. Both artists are strong believers in art’s potential to communicate important messages and the medium is picked to fit the message, which can be both complex and multilayered.
When looking at their work the viewer is immediately struck with the sense of detail and the presence of a playful and poetic, otherworldly beauty, which is both delightful and serene. However, under the surface these pieces carry powerful meanings and much like dreams, we cannot always be sure whether they are pleasant or terrifying.
The works center around the relationship between humans and nature. The artists find inspiration in current issues and in the belief that art has the power to influence, can be used as activism and to raise awareness in order to get people to think and act. Their works therefore often deal with significant problems of the current era such as climate change, pollution, hunger, war and animal extinction.
Katarzyna and Marcin like to combine different elements in their pieces, which often feature animals presented in human situations. This suggests a connection and a deeper bond between humans and other species. By dressing up animals as humans, like in the series ‘My Heart Is An Animal’, they remind us that we are not the only ones inhabiting this planet.
Katarzyna’s and Marcin’s works are the result of a carefully constructed, well-executed and pre-meditated plan where the concept and narrative are key. Some of the images are based on stories the artists themselves have heard or experienced.
Their sources are often books, new paper articles, travels and observations of a rapidly changing world.
Although their work is personal, the artists’ goal is to offer the viewer an opportunity to see reality in diverse ways. Art is a subjective experience and the artists embrace and highlight the importance of any viewers previous experiences.
The artists like to play with the idea of different realities, recognizing that one person’s reality is not necessarily someone else’s. They therefore invite us to experiment with different perspectives on reality through their work.
“Our intention is to explore the infinite possibilities of human imagination, in search of a connection between reality and beyond”, they explain.
In the surreal universe of their work, things do not always make sense. They remind us that not everything is black and white, nor is what we see necessarily what it really is.
Katarzyna’s and Marcin’s works are filled with allegories, metaphors and symbolism. Skulls, ripe fruits and half empty glasses are old symbols of mortality. Animals and plants also carry their own hidden meanings and can be linked to legends and myths.
Their work “The Midas Touch” is for example inspired by the Greek myth of Midas. Midas’ wish to turn everything he touched into gold became a curse after it also turned his food to gold, preventing him from eating – or consuming – what he had. In Katarzyna’s and Marcin’s piece the story is symbolized by the golden inedible apples, linking the artwork and the ancient story to current matters of wealth, consumption and starvation.
Katarzyna’s and Marcin’s wish is to create art with a strong impact, both visually, mentally and emotionally. Their artistic process starts with the outlining of an idea through conversations and sketches. With the photographic works the artists put a lot of thought and time into finding the perfect setting or location for each piece. When choosing a setting they value both its correspondence to the initial idea of the work and its visual attraction. The model is Katarzyna’s father.
The artists’ interest in mythology, philosophy, anthropology and other art forms such as music, poetry and theatre are highly visible in their work both in the subject matter, the aesthetic and the artistic process. Treating their setting almost like a theatre and their concept like a play, the artists create props and decorations to help them transmit their story.
Each work hides many stories. When working with collage Katarzyna and Marcin use old vintage photographs, emphasizing a sense of time and creating a connection to history. This presence of nostalgia reflects the artists’ interest in our limited time on earth and how their art, like the vintage photographs, is a way for them to live on beyond what time and the physical body allows.
The beauty of Katarzyna’s and Marcin’s work hides something raw and brutal. On a spiritual level it invites us to connect with a primal energy and acknowledge that we are all part of the same existence. It also invites us to think about our relationship to the very planet that is our home and the values that shape and should shape our way of life.
In many ways their works deal with the best and worst aspects of human existence. They remind us of the beauty of living and the preciousness of time, but also of the cruelty of humans and the devastating consequences.
The unique atmosphere in their work is both mysterious and strange. With their animal-human-hybrid the artists ask us to rethink what being human means and reconsider the relation between humans and other species, proposing a wider, more including perspective.
This article about KARTAZYNA & MARCIN OWCZAREK takes part of the magazine, ARTICULATE #22. Read, download or order your print version of the full publication below