Poland-based Marzena Ablewska's work is literally and figuratively bewitching. She mixes sexuality, fertility and the occult to create images that demand your attention. Marzena is extremely intro- and retrospective and she vividly explains her journey and thought (or subconscious) process in a way that makes you feel like a welcomed passenger. Marzena is very in touch with something we all know exists but really cannot get to. Her art is a form of spiritual expression that is not shy to be as open and pure as it needs to be. We only wish we could all be this honest. We thank Marzena for squeezing Style.No.Chaser into her busy schedule for an interview.
See the interview and some of her work below.
"They suppressed my traumas and tamed my own sexuality. With time, I worked ..."
Please tell us a little about yourself – your childhood, siblings, where you grew up, what you liked as a child, strange thoughts as a child/now, unique attributes, where you live now, etc.?
I came into the world as the only child in a little town surrounded by forests. The first years of my life I was brought up by my grandma and her old friends. My first sensual experience was the scent of senility: a mixture of lavender, naphthalene and vanilla. My grandparents were simple poor people. The only books they owned were the Holy Bible and the150 year old ‘Kantyczki’ (a collection of carols and songs of the devout). That was why I loved to hang out in the apartment of old lady who lived next door to us. She had a large prewar library with ravishing art albums. I still remember old pottery and ancient sculpture as well as the taste of hot chocolate – quite a nice Freudian fixation as you can probably tell. Then there was my grandpa, with his tales about devils, ghosts and witchcraft. I was fascinated by the story about my great-grandfather, who was a local medicine-man and allegedly a sorcerer. Since I can remember, I wanted to find his legendary spell books which were probably lost when he died. Throughout my childhood, I looked envisioned life the prism of these legends. My real world was permeated with these enchanting mysterious stories of the living and the dead and was further intensified by wildness of nature around me. My present perspective is heavily influenced by my childhood which reminds me of the land in the adaptation of the novel by Czesław Miłosz, ‘Issa Valley’, directed by Tadeusz Konwicki - place in time with logic of emotions.
Where do you think you would be without art?
Frida Kahlo said that she paints because this is the only thing that she can do. I would not ‘be’ without art.
How do you describe your form of art?
I hope it reflects ‘under-boned’ reality. I don't have too much in common with surrealism or visionary arts, although it's easier for others to name and classify what I do as this. Art at its rawest, with its obsessiveness and maladjustment, oscillates the closest to my frequency. But I don't like any categorization, so let's just assume that what I do is seek realism.
There are some deep sexual and fertility undertones in your work – is this done on purpose? How did you develop and create your personal art style?
Many years ago, when I decided to work on art more sincerely, I was doing it only intuitively. My drawings were like the automatic writing of Andre Breton, or like the sigils of Austin Osman Spare. These streams of subconscious were like therapy. They suppressed my traumas and tamed my own sexuality. With time, I worked through my subconscious thoughts and entered into conscious discourse with them. Although I do admit that in process of creation, there is always a place left for a de profundis (in the depths) element and this always comes through and strongly influences the undertones of work.
Answering the first part of your question, I am interested in everything that is situated at the borderline - rites of passage, mysteries, irrational revelations. A deep sexuality always appears at the crossroads of metaphysics and the body. The essence of humanity is hidden in something between Divine Principle and Primal Atavism. I look for the immaculate animal inside visceral mysticism. And of course, this is mainly the road to myself - to re-describe my own femininity which is broken, predetermined and hesitant. Art is always a kind of egoism.
Is there a larger message you are trying to convey with your work?
I want my art to be honest. Despite the fact that I derive from a common well of symbols, it is very intimate. I'm not certain if it's possible to convey a universal message and remain personal. But maybe I am wrong.
What is the worst critique you have ever received about your work? What is the best compliment that you have received about your work?
I am Scorpio, so the harsh critiques act like a trigger for more perseverance. Once I read that all the art I have created was a waste of time. After some time I understood this criticism came from frustration. I am still not used to compliments. I like when people try to analyze my works through their very own experiences.
Which artist/s do you look up to the most?
They have changed over the years. In terms of artistic skills, my worship isn't original: I am still fascinated by renaissance painters. If we are talking about modern interests, I am fond of Berlinde de Bruyckere. She brilliantly combines brutalism with mysticism; her art is like metaphysical baroque poetry.
Since Style.No.Chaser is a men’s lifestyle magazine, what attributes/items/clothing /etc. do you think define a man?
The most important attribute of man in my eyes is his mind. Paraphrasing Anaïs Nin, I adore men who are not afraid of the strength of women.
What is your personal life philosophy?
Through the words of Rumi: "The Wound is the Place where the Light enters you." So I am the Wanderer and finder of wounds.
Who dead or alive, celebrity or not, artist or not, would you like to go on a two week road trip with and why?
Well, of course I choose Jim Morrison! I learnt English from his songs and poetry. Hellish, intelligent and bloody handsome. Who could be better?
How can people learn more about your current and upcoming works?
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