One to Watch

Michał Janowski

Michał Janowski was born in Poland in 1984 and has a BA in Fine Art from the University of East Anglia, UK. Inspired by Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud, he creates portraits and figurative studies that explore the sensual realm of human experience. Michal uses a variety of mediums including charcoal, ink, spray paint, acrylic, and gesso in order to create his haunting paintings and drawings. Michal lives and works in London, UK, and currently exhibits with Signal Gallery, London, and Red Propeller Gallery, Devon, UK.

What are the major themes you pursue in your work?
If I have to pick a label for myself, my general choice would be that of a figurative painter. I am really drawn to faces, especially eyes, therefore portrait seems to be an honest and natural direction. It is a pure flow of intuition and creativity which does not require a preparatory process. I am also interested in the origin and the primal instincts of humanity. Research helps me understand our basic desires, which is then transformed into strong statements within my body of work. This can be seen clearly in my painting called ‘’We Were Hungry Before We Were Born,’’ referring to our most profound instinct to survive.

Another theme that I explore is the notion of reality and perception which is represented in the “Trickster, Shaman and Spirit’’ series. The trickster is a mythological spirit/anthropomorphic animal who is in possession of secret knowledge. He transforms the boundaries, plays tricks, and disobeys the rules of conventional human behaviour. I see it as a beautiful manifestation of a fearless and wise approach to life, which should not be mistaken for anarchy. It is about re-evaluation of conventional rules.

Another series, “Structure and Being,” also explores existential themes, as I juxtapose organic and synthetic forms. This is a time-consuming series, as it requires quite a lot of studies. I usually build a scene using computer software and then I start to develop it on canvas. This process gives me the benefit of limitless possibilities and balancing out the irrational.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
Well, the best advice came from an experienced painter with whom I had the pleasure of working with a while ago. He explained to me that when you realise that your painting is bad, then it is time to start over again. Remove the canvas from the stretcher and start from scratch.

Prefer to work with music or in silence?
I use both. When I have to keep it on a rational level, or there is a problem to solve, I work in silence. When I am comfortable and relaxed, I paint with music. There are sets that I play for a particular stage of painting or a specific type of subject matter. Music helps me to tune in within no time.

If you could only have one piece of art in your life, what would it be?
In this case, I would like to have an installation of three paintings mounted onto my wall. The installation would include: ‘”Metamorphosis of Narcissus’’ by Salvador Dalí, ‘’Tol Pedn’’ by John Tunnard, and “Manuel Osorio Manrique de Zuñiga” by Francisco Goya.

Who are your favorite writers?
I do not have any favorite writers. I read in a very chaotic way. Normally, I have a few books lying around, depending on what I am looking for at a particular moment. What I look for in literature is facts rather than fiction. When I want a story, I listen to jazz or classical music.