One to Watch

The Naturalistic Fluidity of Maria Iciak

Fluidity of line is a common thread in Maria Iciak’s paintings. Her subjects — nudes, birds, and portraits– are subtle and simple in form, as she instead focuses on exploring the limits of her medium of choice: watercolor. She makes quick brush strokes and plays with the unpredictability of the medium, incorporating stray marks and washes of ink into her works. Although her paintings border on abstraction, Maria associates them with nature, considering them to be illusions of reality.

Maria received an MA in Painting from the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk, Poland and has a MA in Art History from Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, Poland. She has had various shows in Germany, Poland and Italy, and has worked with galleries in Bologna and Berlin.

What are the major themes you pursue in your work?

The themes I prefer are nudes, birds, and portraits. However, the subject of my works is merely a pretext to the experiments with the form itself. Although it may seem that my art is heading straight for abstraction, I do not intend to break away from figuration. I wish for my works to always be associated with nature. I want my paintings to be an illusion of reality, and it is up to the viewer to decide how far he wants to decode depiction.

How did you first get interested in your medium, and what draws you to it specifically?

My favorite technique is watercolor. I started using this medium when I was studying at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera in Milan. During this period, I was traveling a lot and watercolor was the most “handy” technique. After tough beginnings, I’ve realized that it’s a natural way of expression which fits my artistic temperament perfectly. A fast working pace and intuitiveness forced by the watercolor technique are great assets when capturing a moment. Besides, I’m fascinated by the results of blending spots of color and the medium’s subtlety.

How has your style and practice changed over the years?

My style has evolved much over the years and I’m still developing my technique and unique style. My main interest is to make my paintings simpler and even more minimalistic. I would like my paintings to be subtle and maximally pure, but still very expressive in its form. I am also experimenting with techniques. Besides watercolor on paper, I try new solutions using oil or acrylic on canvas. The one thing that is not changing is the key role of drawing.  

Can you walk us through your process? Do you begin with a sketch, or do you just jump in? How long do you spend on one work? How do you know when it is finished?

Drawing is a basis of my creative process, it helps me to gather my thoughts and keep my hand and eye fit and ready to work. My paintings are quite modest in means of expression and this is why every spot or line should be perfect, even though in my manner of painting it is impossible to entirely control spilling paints.  However it is not a problem for me, since I consider the coincidence a very useful tool. It helps me achieve new and interesting results.

I always paint on an impulse, although before I start I have a general idea of what I want to express. Then I work out this artistic problem creating a series of paintings which is finished when I feel I said everything I had in mind.

Who are your favorite writers?

My most-liked writers are Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Gabriel García Márquez. What astonishes me the most in the books of both is a special passionate and spiritual atmosphere they create and the expressive characters they construct. Their books inspire me and put me in an amazing mood.

What are some of your favorite experiences as an artist?

The absolutely unique experience I have as an artist is the emotional response– it’s something that is addictive… I completely agree with what Michelangelo Buonarotti said: “Art is an agony when everything fails and ecstasy when it goes well but in any case this is what commands me.”

About the Author

Jessica McQueen is Associate Curator at Saatchi Art. Need help finding art? Contact her via our free Art Advisory service at