Barbara Witkowska biography
An artist creation is a form of communication with the world through visual language. Every artist strives to develop unique technique and singular style to establish an extraordinary body of work.
Artist Barbara Witkowska's path of growth is exceptional dedication in pursuit to achieve her own style through unique technique. Witkowska’s organic-surreal details and mastery atmosphere in her paintings are established through experimenting with mixing different mediums, as well as spray and pouring paint techniques combined with painted fine details.
Like many artists, Witkowska’s personal journey as an artist began in childhood and showed an aptitude for art from an early age. “As a little girl I painted and drew almost continuously, I painted everywhere and anywhere- also on the walls of my room. “ She said: “ I was always encouraged by mum and her sisters to develop my passion for art. My grandad even organised my first exhibition, showing my work in his barbershop.” Already in that period artist Barbara Witkowska showed her interest in nature and human, in that early stage of her artistic growth she liked to combine human and elements of nature or animals together.
In her teens Witkowska had defined her plans and decided to reach her dreams of becoming a painter. She received her first professional and classic art lesson in Fine Art collage in her family town Jaroslaw in Poland. The young artist studied an intense five year course, developed her drawing, painting and composition skills. Her works of this period are more technical exercises, than seeking her own style, which met the requirements of intense school programs. Nevertheless, artist in the final stage of the study, mapped out the beginning of her distinctive style. Witkowska started to appeal to the imagination, through merged elements of nature and portraits, experimented with limited colour range.
Unfortunately, the last year in school was (a) very dramatic for the young artist, because her family financial situation drastically changed.
The artist’s family falls into debts, Witkowska’s father had a breakdown and was placed in hospital. She stayed with her mother, to which they were persecuted by violent moneylenders, exposed to long-term stress. That situation compelled a young artist to abandon her artistic aspirations, and emigrated first to France, and later moved to England, where she settled. Her first years in the UK were difficult, Witkowska felt alienated and lost in a foreign country. Depressed, while living from day to day, worked physically, she lost hope for a better future and stopped painting for several years. She said: “ That was hard time for me, I concentrated all my attention on work to help my family, but at the same time I was offended at the whole world. I felt worse than others, worthless and a completely forceless. I lost all my dreams.”
However, finally she returns to her passion, and created a series of self-portraits. “ I lost my job and I had few months off from work. I came back to my paintings almost Instinctively, because for me that was only way I could express the accumulated emotions hidden for so long. That was the only way I could started finding myself.” The artist created series of dark, almost psychedelic self-portraits. The works were dominated by the contrast of black and white, with accents of metallic blue, pink and red.
After that dramatic series of self-portraits, artist Barbara Witkowska slowly allowed herself to open the door to art world. She took a part-time job and attended an art course in a local college. The artist completed the two year art course, despite the fact that her skills significantly exceeded the level of college program. Witkowska said: “This art course did not do much for my skills , but the support of the lecturers helped me to believe in my talent.”
Witkowska decided to apply for Fine Art at Staffordshire University. The first year of studies was full of frustration for the artist, who expected traditional art classes. Meanwhile, the program of the course required from students to open the mind to artistic experimentation. Witkowska had to find a way of merging the two artistic studies, traditional and contemporary. At the end of the academic year she started work on big fantasy, still strongly figurative painting, but she changed her plans at the last minute after her last tutorial. She created a deformed and simplified skull shape combined with tube, tightened around base of the skull, followed to connect to mouth and top of the head. She repeated this theme also in a series of drawings.” I think it was a breakthrough moment for me. Of course I didn't create that time my masterpiece, if this is possible in an artist's life time, but I made a step to discover my own visual language. I discovered my passion for details and, I let my imaginary creation slowly come to life. I started to understand what is my subject matter.”
After first years Witkowska intensively worked on her painting and started to mark her own distinctive style. She gradually began to move away from classical forms, and allow herself to work from imagination. Her paintings and drawings started be full of depictions of deformed organic forms, combining elements reminiscent of the creation of human effort. These forms are overloaded with endless amount of details; through complicated structure, Witkowska used those forms to express human needs which focuses on existence, relatedness and growth. These forms emerge from ambiguous mist, which conceals mysteries.
Her self-development was noticed and appreciated at the end of her second year at Staffordshire University in 2012, her work was awarded the William Painter Prize and she also had her first solo show in her family town –Jaroslaw, Poland. That exhibition was a very important for Witkowska, she came back to the source of her art journey. She said: “ This exhibition let me back to the past, to the source of my dreams and helped me realise that art is everything for me.”
Her last year at university finally clarified Witkowska's singular style through her unique technique. She combines experimental, contemporary methods with her traditional skills. Witkowska recalls: “ I have been experimenting by mixing different mediums, as well as spray and pouring paint methods combined with drawings techniques. I use these methods to explore the juxtaposition between controlled and uncontrolled elements. In my artistic practice I was and I am interested to explore the natural balance among these extreme elements, and an attempt to understand the complex structure of human life.”
In 2013 Barbara Witkowska completed a BA Hons first class degree in Fine Art at Staffordshire University and also she was awarded the Benjamin Boothroyd Prize for the best final year exhibition in Art and Design at Stafforshre Universty. Her work has been presented in an exhibition titled "Occupied" in Spode Factory and Airspace Gallery Stoke-on-Trent and also her paintings have been selected for an exhibition titled “The Crossing “ during Lichfield Festival.
Furthermore after university, Witkowska with her friends decided to open a charity Majestic Art Studio in Stoke-on Trent, creating for her-self and local artists space to work and exhibit.
Not long after Witkowska paintings were selected for the New Art West Midlands Prize 2014 and her paintings were exhibited in group show in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. She returns in memory to that time: “ I really didn’t expected that at all, every single time all those honours and awards completely surprise me. I still do not believed that I deserve it all.” See said: “ To surprise me even more, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery informed me that my painting is sold. I was lucky to meet that collector, he visited my studio not long after and he bought another painting, but more important, he was in love with my work. He plant a seed in my head that my work has a value for others.”
In 2014 Witkowska also exhibited her work in a group show titled “Bang”, Spode Factory, Stoke on Trent and she was invited to take a part in a show “Stripped “, Stoke Newington Studios in London.
The following year in the life of the artist was even more fruitful in artistic events.
Barbara Witkowska on the beginning of 2015 was requested to take part with New Art WM which showcases the rich visual arts heritage of the region whilst embracing the art of today by promoting living artists and contemporary art in West Midlands. She was invited to exhibit her work in NEW ART WM “Annuale” exhibition in Birmingham School of Art. Her work was presented in “A Stitch in Time” show in The Brampton Museum, Newcastle-Under-Lyme. Additionally Witkowska’s work was included at the “Salon” exhibition in Waterhall Gallery in Birmingham and her work has been published in ‘Aesthetica’, the art and culture magazine.
Witkowska ended the year 2015 with an individual exhibition titled “ Anatomy of destruction” in Gallery 116 in Stoke on Trent.