- Where did the idea of founding an online magazine come from, and how did you decide on its name?
The idea of founding an online magazine came to me during the Christmas of 2016 when my daughter just turned one. I wanted to create something that I could share with her later in her life. I also wanted to provide an opportunity for artists and art lovers. After I graduated with my Bachelor and Masters degrees, I was lucky to have many opportunities to get exposure to wider audiences through exhibitions and press and I wish the same for others.
We decided to give the magazine the name “Execute” in order to indicate that any form of art and creative work that we want to feature will be executed in a way that will provoke and challenge the audience. Although, the magazine is crawling right now, we are committed to executing our plan to be an inspirational and accessible magazine.
- Do you see Execute as belonging to the area of ‘artist-led’ practice?
Because it’s founded by artist, people might think that it is an artist-led project. Yes and no, I am an artist who came up with the idea of creating the magazine, but on the other hand, I want to create something beyond that. Right now, the focus is on bringing visual artists to the site, but in the long-term I see Execute Magazine as a platform for music, film, and other creative efforts, as well as a news platform that will be a new type of alternative for the dynamic art world and it will evolve to something much larger than the artist-led project.
- Why do you think there is a need for another online magazine? What ‘gap’ is it addressing and who is your audience?
I am still exploring what is our niche to fill with the magazine and what is its future. I thought about founding a magazine for a long time, but only recently has the vision become clearer. I realize that it is a process. When Steve Jobs started his company, he had some bigger picture of his business, but he didn’t know all the details at the very start. My project is evolving a similar way. I think of the magazine as a long-term presence in the art world that will still be existing long after I am gone. That is my goal. I want to bring all kinds of creators to the site. Now, we are trying to understand through the content that we upload to whom we address Execute Magazine. Currently the magazine is directed to artists and artist lovers. But that will change when we introduce film creators and producers on the site. Mark Zuckerberg admitted in one of his interviews that the next step for social media is video content and that is a direction of Facebook right now. I don’t think that video interviews will be introduced right away, but it is in the future of Execute Magazine. There is an increasing presence of the online art market and I think that it is important to find the right way to bring magazine to people who are interested in seeing the art first on a computer screen and then experiencing it in galleries and museums. Virtual reality in the art scene will be growing and I want to be part of it.
- In relation to your artistic practice, you talk about age-old human conflicts, for example our internal struggles with being caught between reality and hope. Does your pragmatic approach to the fact that everything in life is ultimately compromised stand you in good stead for this new publishing venture with Execute?
I want Execute to be a connection between my own personal artistic vision, the artistic visions of others, and the magazine itself. Just from reading other people’s books we learn. I hope that everyone who engages with the magazine can learn something from it. I see it as creating a bigger picture that will change and inspire new generations and I don’t think of the magazine as something that will force me to compromise my own practice and chief aim as an artist. When the thought starts in our mind from the perspective of single individual this thought is nothing compared to global consciousness. When art presents a single perspective, and places it in a space of a small town, and that perspective is enlarged again to the size of a big city, country, continent, even the entire world, we can see that there is no place for egocentrism. Basically, such a vision can be offered by the art of those who can truly see, who challenge the way things are, and make it possible for others to access this vision.
That’s how I see the magazine. I started with initial idea and from this point I am looking for people who will share and support the vision. Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, or Mark Grotjahn each had a bigger vision which undoubtedly demanded that they make some compromises in their own personal artistic journey. In compromising for a greater vision, I see it as something that both gives and takes back.
Through all my travels I have learned that it is important to follow your passion no matter how life might try to dissuade you. I have not investigated very many other artist-led initiatives, so cannot speak to that concern, except to say that I can’t do everything myself. I need people who will support my idea, if not from the beginning, then over time, people who can share and/or support the same passion. Thanks to technology the geographical location doesn’t matter. The project can be started in the middle of nowhere and if followed with passion and dedication, will find its audience.
- Your personal journey to date has taken you from your native Poland, to England, where you studied at Manchester School of Art, and now to the United States. With my own focus on artist-led initiatives, I’m interested to hear your observations on how these function in different geographic contexts. What have you learned about artist-led practices from your travels?
From my point of view, geographical context can change everything. I have learned through living in different places that concepts that are not followed by passion and determination come and go quickly. I saw ventures that began with a good budget disappear once the money was gone. I saw also projects that began slowly and grew into more significant endeavors. My other observation is that location needs to be connected to a specific idea. A great program in a place where there is no structure to support the project will not succeed. Each project needs to be established in the right circumstance. I also noticed projects that expanded into something much bigger the better the plan, the greater the passion.
- I see that Donald Trump has appeared in a new series of your paintings titled Bad Boys Have A Nice Haircut (2017), and also in earlier works. How are you finding life in Trump’s America?
This is not Trump’s America, this is the American people’s America. I got here before he become a president and I remember what I saw was different from now. Even if I am still a foreigner in this country, I believe that standing for good in this world is important.
When I came to the United States I knew that this country is big, but what I didn’t realize was that the distances between big cities are so big, that it’s like going from one country to another in Europe. That gives me a new way of seeing everything that is happening in this world. Trump’s America geographically looks the same, but what is happening in internal struggles of cities is different from one place to another. Although Trump’s methods may have helped him to reach his goals, those same methods have divided America and it is hard to heal hearts.
He appears in my paintings, because he never has been a person that represents a healing force to resolve conflicts, at least not for me. Through my painting I can express my concerns about the American administration even though I am not a citizen. I have seen how his election has affected so many people in this country negatively. Historical references that I use in my paintings are used to show allusions to mindless decisions that we make as a global consciousness. This year I visited Auschwitz- Birkenau in Poland because I wanted to see and try to understand that war. Hate is nothing good. History can repeat itself, but if we try to remember and understand the past, we can build something better in the future. I need all of these things that are coming to me from all the sides to create paintings that hopefully will provoke meaningful reflection.
- Where do you see your artistic practice going next? What are you working on at the moment?
After my scholarship at Dresden Academy of Art in Germany, I decided that I will focus on my practice somewhere far away from big cities. I live now in the Northwest where I can afford to rent a huge space to do my work. Life here is also much slower. My last five years were busy for me with shows and shipping my works to new homes. After I went to Rome for my fellowship last year, I felt that I need to be in a big city again. That might be my next goal.
In the last two to three years I understood that there is much more I have to learn about this world than I learned at schools and from friends and parents. It is important to be able to adapt to the situations that I face as an artist. Artists have it much easier now then forty or fifty years ago. More possibilities. I think that I see my practice the way that Damien Hirst did it, or Jeff Koons. Both always stayed focus on a bigger picture. I want to focus now on a bigger picture.
Now I am working on a new series that explores the Heimlich Maneuver idea, how to save the life of somebody who is choking and its direct link to history and politics. This is for now a concept stage. I also received a grant for a new body of work that will primary be focused on Mexican immigration to the United States as well as migration in Europe.