Sylwia Synak is an abstract painter who works in broad strokes and textured dimensions inspired by complex themes such as courage, self-confidence and vitality. Born in Poland, Synak knew at a very young age that her creativity would someday open many doors for her. In fact, she had already begun to express herself by designing her own clothes as early as age 5. Since adulthood, she’s worked in many areas of creative expression including painting murals, graphic design and decorating.
Her love of nature explains why a lot of her work has a biomorphic feel. It’s through her use of unconventional materials like flour, soil, and sand that pieces like Angel Showing, Indigo on White or New Era Nr. 3 literally rise off the canvas. Whether large format or smaller mixed media works, Synak’s vitality and spirituality take shape in some of pieces in a new series of work created on the island of Reichnau on Lake Constance (see Artisster gallery).
I recently spoke with her from her studio in Munich, where she also studied fine art at the University of Applied Sciences with a focus on Communications design. Here’s what she shared with me about her work:
Ericka: What made you decide to join Artisster?
Sylwia: The idea behind Artisster is simply different. I was immediately interested when I found out that the artist is in the forefront of the platform. The artist gets to present his or her work. That’s really a very different construction than with other commercial galleries — physical or virtual. Also, Sandy, the founder of Artisster, is a great partner to work with. Her spirit and personality, just the way she is. I liked her immediately. She made me feel good about my decision to join the platform.
Ericka: One of the first pieces you ever made is for sale on Artisster. How did creating it drastically change your life?
Sylwia: That first painting, called “Angel Showing,” is one that I worked on for half a year. It wasn’t easy at all. That painting was like a “difficult labor” for me. The feeling of “now this painting is finished” didn’t come to me for a long time. Several interior designers helped me finish painting it. Afterwards, I knew that I would dedicate my life exclusively to the arts and my painting. It was my calling. I sensed it. It was something like an epiphany. The painting is filled with an incredible magic and power, courage, confidence, trust in one’s self, unity with one’s own spirit, vitality and ease. This painting opened many doors for me. Suddenly, I’ve had opportunities for numerous exhibits, collaborations, and support from the gallery owner I work with, Ralf Dellert.
Ericka: So are there 3 other words that might describe your artistic style?
Sylwia: Spirited. Complex. Mysterious.
Ericka: Do you have a particular type of customer you’d like to reach?
Sylwia: Actually not. Not directly. I paint from the heart. I don’t have a type of customer I’m trying to target. Any target groups I might have thought of just find their way to me. Besides private collectors I’ve been fortunate to have interior designers, hotels and business find their way to me. But I’m still at the beginning of my commercial career. I’ve sold to a Romantik hotel already, and I’m hoping requests like the one I recently got from a hotel in Dubai will come into fruition.
Ericka: I have no doubt they will. In fact, I know that Lufthansa Airlines picked up on your talent. Tell me about your recent exhibit at the airport in Munich.
Sylwia: Yes. Some of my work were on exhibit in Lufthansa’s Lounge 2. And I have a group show coming up in London in January-March 2017. The show is called „Abstract Transformations”.
Ericka: On your Artisster video you mention using materials like chalk, sand, limestone and flour. Since when have you been using “green materials” and how have they changed your work?
Sylwia: Since 2015 roughly. By the time I’m finished putting everything together on canvas, they become little works of nature. Now my pieces are more haptic. The paintings begin to live by using these organic materials, and therefore become more fragile.
Ericka: But by haptic, you don’t want people to actually touch your work? But your paintings invite the viewer to get up close to and see how many layers, textures and facets live on that canvas. You mix your pigments and fillers yourself. Why?
Sylwia: Where I am artistically at the moment, I’m in a period where it’s very important for me to work almost solely with natural materials, practically completely void of synthetics. With these self-prepared materials, I’m able to more effectively express the intuitive process of painting. Especially in the abstract painting made with chalk from the swamplands and marble powder.
Ericka: When you were young, your first work of art was fashion. Do your ballerina flats you wear in the studio have a special meaning? I mean, have you shadow-boxed them for display?
Sylwia: [laughs] Well, not directly. I am on my third pair now. They are just really comfortable and I like to work in them. Even though I love them, I’ve actually just thrown them away once they’re worn out. It’s hard but I’ve been lucky enough to find a new pair to replace the ones I’ve loved before. It’s true, I just throw them away.
Ericka: Speaking of how you work, can you describe your studio?
Sylwia: Well, my studio is located in the center of Schwabing and Maxvorstadt in München, almost next to the Pinothek Museums, in a secluded courtyard in Schellingstrasse. My studio is bright, friendly and emits a positive energy. The ceilings are 3 meters high, and the floors are white-washed wood. It has a certain Scandinavian look.
My studio actually also doubles as my showroom, where I can invite prospective buyers as well as friends. It lends itself to hosting exhibits or even an open house. In a corner window, I’ve got a cozy sitting area. Additionally, there’s an open shelving unit where I store all the materials I use. I keep all my pigments in glass containers on a neighboring table. I suppose any modern artist knows her way around a computer and can self-promote through the usual channels. For this kind of work, I need a comfortable space. My desk is fully equipped with an iMac, iPad, and a digital camera. Opposite my desk, there’s a sideboard that I hang my completed paintings over. There’s of course an easel, lots of drop cloths and even a little tepee in another corner for my smallest guests.
Ericka: What’s one thing that you need when you work?
Sylwia: Peace and quiet. Home also has to be close by, since I often paint at night and into the wee hours.
Ericka: Can you describe yourself in 3 words?
Sylwia: Generous. Spirited. Sensitive.
Ericka: I notice that you sign all of your work in a big and bold way. A large black signature really. As a woman painter, does this have a particular meaning?
Sylwia: That’s true but I never really thought about it on a conscious level. I guess when I sign a piece I’m speaking from another awareness. I guess other artists sign in a less conspicuous way, more discreetly. Maybe now I feel less restrained. Finally, I am doing exactly what I always wanted to do.
Ericka: What’s the most valuable piece of advice you’ve gotten and from whom?
Sylwia: During my studies, it came from my professor, Holger Hoier, who taught “freestyle painting”. He always told us, “We do not paint figuratively!”