Delectability is important to me...
Bogusław Deptuła talks to Sebastian Skoczylas
What is most important about painting for you?
Colour, of course. And along with it, all the other elements of a painting that are subordinate to it. Composition should highlight the colour values, not dominate them. I study how individual colour schemes affect each other. The essence is what emerges in between, the tension on the border of two colour fields. And although these paintings seem to be not very aggressive, there are some contrasts, such as where the cool shades meet the warm ones. Texture is like that, too — what is important is what is created on the boundary of the smooth planes with the coarser ones; that is what interests me the most when it comes to the texture of the image.
I understand that these combinations are an intuitive creation.
Yes, when it comes to colour. The composition is a conscious creation, but colour is intuitive and changes a lot during painting.
Do you make sketches?
No; when I start work I have a general idea of what I want to achieve in my head, although I quite often change it while painting.
Formats determine the future composition of paintings...
If I assume that a painting will be created on a square canvas, then this format completely determines the composition.
Why this pastel colour range?
My painting evolved from landscape and these hues are the result of observation of nature. Although it is far from realism, my painting emerged as a result of contact with real landscape.
Your paintings usually have a zone layout, is that the result of observing the landscape, too?
Yes, in nature, there are various areas that meet, air with water, or with earth. When I paint, I think with landscape.
There is a kind of frame in the painting, so right from the start, you emphasise that this is a conventional composition.
For me, the surface of the canvas is the area in which the landscape stretches out, and the frame conventionally limits it. That’s how I mark out my field of action.
Whose art was most important to you?
About halfway through my studies, I started to experiment with colour. I was influenced by the painting tradition of the school. The Wrocław art community, Józef Hałas — whom I never met personally but whose works I saw many times — and Alfons Mazurkiewicz, although these inspirations are less clear; and they changed too. Both were abstractionists, but drawing from the real world, from the landscape. Mazurkiewicz created more with texture, Hałas with the symbol. Developing my own painting formula was evolutionary.
Who else was important to you in art?
Looking more deeply, impressionism, Cézanne in terms of observing the world and operating in colour. Rothko, of course, that attempt to combine colours to make a separate whole. Combining colours to create a synthesis.
Rothko wanted to dissolve the viewer in colour through his large formats. But you don’t paint compositions of that size, and in your works, the texture is important, while for him it was the opposite.
It’s not about the emotions that are in his works, where the colour is practically swollen with strong feelings. My paintings have a similar mood. I strive for a kind of delectability of these works. I would like them to catch the eye, so that you want to view them, consume, absorb them with your gaze, devour them; I want them to be delectable, that delectability is important to me.
You have your favourite colour range, but there are other tones that appear in these paintings, stronger ones — is that supposed to be this delectability, too?
This range is intuitive, different colours appear during painting, but then they disappear because it turns out that they don’t ‘fit’ in the picture. Of course, contrasts are important, but I introduce them in a very delicate way.
You paint using acrylics, what determines this choice?
If you painted with oils, your works would look different...
Probably, although I don’t know how. I lay down many layers and waiting for each one to dry would make my work more difficult, and this is what happens when you paint oils. Texture is very important to me.
If you had different conditions for painting, would you create larger formats?
Probably not. I use the formats I can manage. A while back, I tried smaller ones. They look different. The size determines my composition. The scale I usually use is optimal for me. Painting is also a trace of a physical activity, a record.
Do you have an idea that you haven’t realised yet?
In painting, I keep getting ideas, more or less successful, but ultimately I come back to the main trend of my painting. I constantly look for new colour ranges that have previously been unfamiliar, or that I haven’t come up with. I think that would also like to play with colour in ceramics, achieving certain colour effects through the selection of glazes. I find the chemical processes that lead to the formation of colours interesting; it’s a kind of alchemy. I'm also interested in colour in design, which I deal with every day at work, but that’s a completely different story.