100 Painters of Tomorrow, Thames & Hudson, 2014
Kinga Nowak is a painter for whom the subconscious spirit is the greatest source of inspiration. Forgotten memories from childhood are revisited decades later and inform her work on a subliminal level. It transpires, for example, that recurrent African motifs originate from childhood exposure to a museum of African art – a connection that only occurred to Nowak years later, in adult life. Incorporating elements like these symbolizes the juxtaposition of past and present, a prevalent theme in Nowak’s work. Her paintings – a mixture of figurative scenarios, seemingly out of context and set within flattened, almost cartoonish landscapes – aim to express the ambiguity of emotions and relationships, as well as the fragile link between memory and the self. “I choose representation “ the artist says, “but I try to avoid literality or naturalism. Memory joins elements of culture and art with personal experience.” Nowak views paint as a medium through which the thin boundary between what is material, spiritual and intellectual can be crossed. “Painting lets us grasp something deeper and ethereal”, she notes. It is an object and an idea at the same time”. She therefore crafts each of her paintings as a kind of puzzle, attempting to convey a feeling of narrative or metaphor to the viewer on a subconscious level. Only through this methodology does Nowak believe that she is able to reach into the past and solidify her memories and messages for her viewers as something less ephemeral and more substantial.