In the studio with Lukasz Dziedzic

In the studio with Polish audio-visual artist, musician, painter, art designer and curator Lukasz Dziedzic. We met with Lukasz to tell us more about growing up in a small town in Upper Silesia, music as a source of inspiration, and drawing from personal sources through his practice.

When did you first begin to see yourself as an artist?

Since I was a child, I had a great passion for creating art, it was always somewhere at the intersection of music and visual arts. During my artistic studies, I was drawn to art and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

Where are you from and what was your upbringing like?

I come from a small town, located in Upper Silesia in the industrial part of Poland. Art was an idea for breaking away from the grey everyday life. As a teenager, I played and sang in many punk and hardcore bands, and at home I drew comics and designed album covers and composed music zines. It was my whole world. This escape into the world of art determined my attitude and my later life choices.

Paint us a picture of your artistic journey. What inspired you to first pursue, and then continue to practice, artistic work? 

During my art studies, I entered the world of art strongly, already then I got involved in working at the local alternative contemporary art gallery SZARA, which I started to run together with my then-partner Joanna after graduation. This life adventure lasted almost 20 years. During this time, I organised several hundred exhibitions, concerts and festivals while designing books, playing in experimental music projects and creating my own art. I also got involved in didactic work and for 7 years I worked as a lecturer at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Silesia, teaching, among others, photography and multimedia.

It was a very intense time and not without many challenges. The gallery achieved artistic success and, after several moves, entered the commercial art market and finally settled in Warsaw. Unfortunately, my art is always lost in these compromises. That’s why around 2021 I decided to focus on my creative work only and by the end of 2022 I drew back from the gallery work. Working as a gallerist was a great experience, but only now do I feel that I have space and time to engage in what I have always wanted to do, i.e. painting.

What’s the message of your work? Where do they come from? 

My works tell about matters that take place on a micro scale, i.e. in relation to the closest world: corporeality, sexuality, emotions, close relationships, moments that shape personality, but also on a macro scale, i.e. the relation to the country, the world and humanity. These two perspectives intertwine in the form of a loose visual notebook, in which details from life are mixed, scenes referring to the history of culture, art, images inspired by photos from newspapers, family albums, photos from the iPhone, collections from the Internet or dreams. The paintings themselves in the formal layer are realistic but at the same time expressive and heterogeneous, escaping from style and mannerisms.

In projects such as Mad Masters and Ad maiorem Poloniae gloriam, I am inspired by postcolonial history and culture. It all started with my music. In my compositions, I often looked for inspiration in the sounds of distant cultures, without deepening my knowledge about them. Over time, however, I began to look at photos of travellers and anthropologists who discovered new tribes and I was struck by the artificiality and objectification of the indigenous people. I wanted to work through this topic, and painting seemed to me the perfect medium for this.

The project also includes images that refer to Polish colonial ambitions, which manifested themselves particularly strongly in the nineteenth century and the interwar period. I try to show the absurdity of the colonial narrative of a nation that was itself colonised by the invaders. A separate group consists of portraits of theoreticians of the postcolonial movement, whose critical works have become important and inspiring reading for me.

References to the history of painting and the symbolic use of colours play a special role in the presented works. These are not images that are supposed to evoke positive connotations of exotic countries where we feel better just because we are Europeans. On the contrary – these are works that are supposed to provoke critical reflection on the damage that the white man has done in the conquered countries. I also wanted to read these works through the contemporary context, where, for example, in Poland today the role of a foreigner is played by refugees or sexual minorities.

Who or what are your greatest influences? 

Music is a constant source of inspiration, but so are books. Very important readings for me are Frantz Fanon’s “Black Skin, White Masks” and bell hooks “The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love”. I love the paintings of Marlene Dumas and Miriam Cahn as well as the approach to the medium, aesthetics and commitment of Luc Tuymans and Wilhelm Sasnal.

An unexpected source of inspiration?

Guilty pleasure in music in the form of embarrassing idols from childhood, looking at them from the perspective of a mature, conscious person gives insight into the complexity of our perception and changes in worldview.

What do you want people to take from your work when they view it? 

 My paintings often have very personal sources of inspiration but often deal with very universal matters. I am aware that the recipient compliments my work with himself and his experiences and emotions. The exhibition creates a new dimension for the functioning of paintings, I only try to provoke and give the audience an impulse to think and feel.

What events in your life have mobilised change in your practise?

During the last individual exhibition, I worked with the wonderful curator Emilia Orzechowska, thanks to our conversations and opening up to new contexts, I opened myself to intuitive, subconscious, experimental action, abandoning highly conceptual work with closed projects.

On the other hand, conversations with my partner Justyna, who is a wonderful writer and poet, opened me to the exploration of my own psyche, emotionality and corporeality, showed me how mindfulness and self-awareness translate into artistic practice.

What are your ideal conditions or catalyst for creating a “good” piece of work?

I need to have space to think and to digest the idea for the painting, I walk with it for a long time. It’s often the limit where I just have to put it on the canvas. Then the painting process itself is very fast, emotional. I have to be very focused and nothing can distract me, I cut myself off. And when I’m done, I need a longer moment to come back to reality.

Tell us about the inspiration behind one of your works?

The painting Woman (Rage) was inspired by a travel photo from the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. It presents a portrait of a strong African woman painted in the form of a miniature portrait or a bust of an important person functioning in 17th century European painting. A whole series of similar paintings was created, where the medium of painting was a means of restoring the subjectivity of the portrayed people, giving them strength and agency, which they lost in the shots reducing them to the role of exotic curiosities devoid of personality.

Something in the future you hope to explore?

The most exciting thing is that I don’t know it yet!

Describe your work in three words:

Speed, heart, head.

What do you listen to while you work? Is music important to your art?

Music is very important. I have a special playlist that accompanies me while painting, it is very inspiring, energetic and eclectic.

What is your favorite read?

I am constantly moved by Sven Lindqvist’s book “Exterminate All the Brutes”.

Best piece of advice you’ve ever received (any quotes or mantras you particularly connect with)?

The most important thing is to do what you love and be in a relationship with people with whom you want to exchange support, strength and love.

What makes you laugh?

Instagram memes and rolls and my girlfriend’s jokes.

What makes you nervous?

Human stupidity.

Is there anything you wish you were asked more often?


Is there anything you’ve recently tried for the first time? 

I’m trying to quit sugar.

Is there anything you’ve been hesitant to try in the past but you’d like to this year?

I’d like to start running.

Do you have any superstitions?

I don’t believe in such things.

Would you rather know what the future holds or be surprised?

I would prefer to have some control over it though.

What place in your everyday environment do you go to for inspiration?

I take a walk or, on the contrary, I lock myself in my studio for a few hours and think.

What are some things you’re most passionate about outside of your practice?
I love reading, dancing, playing music and talking to people.

What is your relationship with social media?

I’m heavily involved but it’s mainly related to my art.