Igor Dobrowolski joined us recently to paint at Maddox Gallery Mayfair with Australian band, 5 Seconds of Summer. We caught up with him to find out more about his inspiration and his journey as an artist.
What is your first memory of experiencing art?
I vividly remember an MC Escher book. It was very striking. My brother is a bit older than me and he showed me the book. I think that's the first thing - I remember looking at it every day.
You began your career in painting quite suddenly, what made you start?
I was designing women's footwear - high heels and accessories - as a passion. And I was thinking about painting all the time. Four years later, I did painting for a month - every day. I just started to paint a Bangladeshi girl and after a month my brother came and looked at the painting was like 'it's nice'. And my girlfriend was like 'yeah it's nice'. And I never stopped.
They were very supportive - my brother, my girlfriend, my mum. Because they saw I didn't live, I only painted. For the first few years it was literally a minimum 12 hours per day, every day. It was crazy for me, looking back at it now from this space, it was strange. But I was only painting - eating with my girlfriend for an hour, and sleeping. And I really felt like I could express myself better. I really don't like to talk about my feelings - I'm not good at it. If I was, I'd probably write poems or music or something like that. But I guess I'm not, so I'm better at expressing my feelings in art, by painting. It's the best way to communicate for me.
What is the main inspiration for your work?
There are so many subjects in the world, in terms of suffering or trying to deal with suffering. And I always try to put some hope into every painting. Because I really do believe there is some hope for everyone - maybe it's childish or maybe not, but I do strongly believe in that. So I try to put hope into every painting and tackle different types of suffering. You can pick and choose though, there are so many subjects I'd like to paint about - I have a list on Google drive and I just go through them. I've planned 3 years ahead but it depends on the possibilities and I need to put them together.
Your style has developed over time, beginning with your monochrome, hyper-realistic portraits and culminating in highly sculptural, metallic pieces. What brought about this change?
For me it's easier to build new shapes rather than new faces - I can see how to create them more easily than human postures, which are much harder for me to do. I've always wanted to create sculptures. They feel more freestyle since my paintings are more detailed and can get a little repetitive after a while.
I have many ideas for future work - at the moment I've only worked on two sculptural paintings, which are now at Maddox. They're prototypes for my ideas - testing it out in a slightly smaller scale. Now that they're done, I'm going to go bigger and use different shapes. I have an idea in mind will have it finished by the end of the week - then I just have to do it in real life.
You've lived in Poland and exhibit regularly in London - how do the art scenes differ?
It's night and day. London is a different world - I've never seen an art scene that's so big. Not in any other country. We were in Lisbon and you can't even compare it - don't get me wrong, Lisbon is beautiful but the art scene is smaller. Berlin is more rough, with illegal street art. Here, in terms of galleries and more commercial art, it's much more and at a much higher level. Higher than I've ever seen. Maybe it's like New York or LA, but I've never been there.
See Igor Dobrowolski's work now at the Summer Contemporary Exhibition at Westbourne Grove.