Kasia Derwinska, photographer

It is not the first interview that I have done, but it is the first one where although I was not the subject I felt a key part . Thanks a lot, Kasia. I have learned so much.

Gema Albornoz

Kasia Derwinska, Polish and settled in Barcelona. Self-taught, observant and creative photographer. She recreates, with the touch of a magic wand, in her images reflections, dreams, experiences, doubts, fears, drawing us the visible and the invisible, without too much difference .

With a list of awards (Figs. 1,2, 3) in her curriculum that are just an appetizer before seeing her photos and get to know her a bit better.

uno

Tokyo International Foto Awards 2016 – First Place .

dos

First Place. IPA, New York.

tres

Third place in Moscow International Foto Awards.

Welcome to Prisma a la vista, Kasia and thank you very much for your time. Let’s begin!

Your web page welcomes us «constructing a bridge between the visible thing and the invisible thing»: how does the bridge begin in reality and finish in a world of fantasy?

 The truth is that I do not know when it began and where to put the end. Rather it is a metaphor for the connection that there is between both, a space of magic realism.

 This concept of magical reality has accompanied me for ages and my work is an attempt to capture it. Capturing the world where I live, where there is no separation between them yet all the while they are part of the one whole.

 I was a girl with lots of imagination —and lots of free time — to enter into my fantasies, live them and develop them even further.

But, also, I admit that my perception has always been very different from that which is defined as “normal”. I have always perceived more, perhaps it is a matter of sensitivity.

Capturing the world where I live, where there is no separation between them yet all the while they are part of the one whole.

cuatro

There is a place called home

Knowledge, solitude, freedom, hope, searching, questioning, the pathway, all of them half fairy tales and half photographs: how do you bring together these two worlds — technically and thematically?

I have always said that sensitivity can also have a very dark side and photography, as I work now creating images with help of Photoshop, has been from the very beginning, a type of self-help.

cinco

Once upon a time

When something moves  me, it goes round and round in my head. It is like a drum that does not stop beating until I liberate myself of its sound. That is when I can begin building the image that reflects this feeling.

seis

You do not know what the solitude is

When something moves  me, it goes round and round in my head. It is like a drum that does not stop beating until I liberate myself of its sound. That is when I can begin building the image that reflects this feeling.

I also work with my dreams, since I usually remember them ever since I was a child. These works are more symbolic, they reflect more the background.

siete

Some stories never have the happy end. IPA 2016

In other cases, suddenly and in the least expected, and least appropriate, moment, a finished image appears to me in a  flash. With these types of images  my main target is to draw what I saw.

I never make sketches before beginning my work. It’s spontaneous. Often, it also happens that what I begin, at first, it does not have the form of my original concept. Working with an image, at the same time, subconsciously, I make a mental effort, something is created like a process, a small mental evolution occurs and facilitates, in certain way, so that the image comes alive, that’s why it grows or changes along the process of its creation.

Where does the need to create these fantasy worlds come from? How did you enter to it the first time?

Sometimes, I analyze my life from today’s perspective, and I think that perhaps it is because I am an only daughter and I grew in an open space  with a lot of time for myself although I do not remember any particular moment at which my imagination started working like that. I have the feeling that I have always lived with her , ever since I was a child. It was my grandfather who woke up this attitude to believe that anything is possible. At home, reading was also encouraged , I grew up with Hans Christian Andersen, the Brothers Grimm, and Lewis Carroll’s stories. I believe that literature, mostly, was the spark to develop my capacity for fantasy and imagination.

ocho

The night in Wonderland

Who are your photographic influences? Is there someone in the current photographic scene that attracts your attention – nationally or internationally?

My work is a small attempt erase the lines between painting, photography and illustration and the artists who inspire me are from these genres.

Undoubtedly, my principal teacher has been Zdzislaw Beksinski since many years ago, the Polish painter and photographer. His very dark, gloomy and phantasmagorical paintings have inspired me for many years.

Another of my favorite authors is Storm Thorgerson, one of the founders of the designers’ group Hipgnosis, who are famous for their rock album covers. Their designs have elements of surrealism, deforming realities across visual compositions or locating them in immense oneiric spaces .

I also love the work of a young French illustrator  Benjamin Lacombe whose illustrations have a style full of fragility and melancholy.

If it is a question of classic painters, then undoubtedly Francisco de Goya, especially his series of black paintings.

And finally, obviously my major inspiration is René Magritte. Magritte’s conceptual paintings were trying to change the perception of reality and that’s why his work is so dear to me.

Has the way you look through your camera lens changed the way you look at reality, and viceversa?

I think so, but I would not dare to say that it is only after looking through the lens but because life itself is a process of evolution and learning.

It is clear that I myself learn from life thanks to my work because I try to be objective in what I do. For example, when I work with interpersonal relations I always try to capture more than one point of view, I learn by seeing things from the other side.

(…) life itself is a process of evolution and learning.

diez

Temptation

What do  each of the images that you create contain? What are the indispensable ingredients of them?

Someone has said that suffering is the best creative engine, but I do not agree with this. My best works, according to my criteria, have been done when I felt good, calm and happy. Because that is when I can concentrate on the image.

The essential thing is the concept, but also the feelings. A clear vision of what I want to transmit. And of course, plenty of patience.

once

Book cover photo: © Kasia Derwinska

How would the life of Kasia Derwinska be without a lens to look through?

It is very difficult to answer that question because we can never know how our life would be if we had chosen another path. But at the creative level, I believe that if it was not through photography, I would find another form of expression. Years ago I had an period when I was writing poems, but it was very fleeting. For many years, Ialso I devoted myself to interior design. Somehow, my life has always had this creative point and and that’s where my character and way of seeing the world around me comes from.

doce

What will remain.

What does the real world look like—observed from the world of fantasy that you have created?

 To this question, I always answer with another one: What is the real world and where does the fantasy begin?

The definition of reality has always been a philosophical problem and an eternal debate. When I first read your question I went to the Internet and wrote “what reality is” and obviously, what came up were linguistic definitions of the word “reality“.

trece

In search of lost time (II).

Briefly reality is defined as something that exists, that is neither an illusion nor a fantasy. But for me every person has his or her own reality there are a range of factors and situations in which this person lives every day. It is not possible to say that reality is comprised only of material things, since emotions and feelings are also “real”.

I believe that reality depends on our perception and for this reason I am very far from trying to determine what is or what the real world seems like.

And particularly allow me to define my own position as an observer.

But for me every person has his or her own reality there are a range of factors and situations in which this person lives every day. It is not possible to say that reality is comprised only of material things, since emotions and feelings are also “real”.

catorce

Escape

I have followed your publications for a time and you always accompany them with famous or literary quotes, as well as deep reflection. Are you an eager reader?

I was it when I was a teenager. I devoured books but now with not much time I do not read a lot, although I would like to recover this habit. Quotes, phrases, music or short movies accompany my images to give amore complete vision to the spectator. With an image, sometimes, it is very difficult to transmit the complexity of the concept that I have in my mind, then the titles are one more clue for the interpretations of my images. On some occasions, first, precisely, there is the titles and the image is my interpretation of it. It is searching for answers to my own questions.

All your images are an attempt— quoting your own words — to connect the substantiality of the world that surrounds us with the elusiveness of feelings and thoughts. Are they thought to be a form of neutral personal expression — that anyone could use?

I believe that many people identify with concepts in my images. Although most of my works are personal introspection, I believe that often there are concepts, feelings or doubts that we all share at one or another moment of life. Some images are very personal, they speak about my own fears, and of the anger that I feel sometimes, pain or disappointment. These works, perhaps, are more subjective, and more difficult that others will identified themselves with them. But as a rule I try to maintain the position of a neutral observer. I always try to capture that there is not only one truth. It is then that I believe that people can use my pictures to find a reflection of their own thoughts and feelings.

quince

Trust

 Some images are very personal, they speak about my own fears, and of the anger that I feel sometimes, pain or disappointment.

Forgive my boldness, —but what happened to induce you to a black and white world? 

The truth is that, at first, when I began my adventure with photography, all my images were only in  black and white. In some ways I believe that black and white does not deceive, that the observer concentrates more on the composition, on the details, on the concept. I used to think colour was a distraction. I have always said that a bad photo with good colours seems better than it is.

dieciseis

Turtle carapace

At first, I only worked with black and white, until a couple of years ago, I realised that I cannot only work with black and white, especially, if I am in a bad mood or sad. Then I   created a series that is entitled “the one who sings his  evil frightens” and it is my colour therapy.

Many people think that I work with colour when I feel good and my dark works mean that I am falling down into depression, when— the reality—is totally the opposite. I can immerse myself these worlds of dark fantasy only when I feel good and calm.

diecisiete

Playing with the universe

dieciocho

Live and let others live

For further information visit:

**Translation’s review: Jim Memory

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