"Art is not just about what appeals to the average Joe, it is far more than that, it is transcendent and speaks about things that the average Joe hasn't thought of before, so that he can raise himself a bit above his current level of humanity. Art is the voice of intuition in action."
Eva Piotrowski-Lewarne was born in Poland right after the war, and can still remember all the ruins encountered on the walks she went on with her grandfather. She is to this day, unable to watch any WWII movie without going into spasms and emotional distress. Eva has resided in Canada for many years now and went on to graduate from OCAD after completing a psychology and English major at The University of Toronto. She has always painted as painting has been her first and last love, it's her life source. She signs her art just with Lewarne due to the simple fact that her ex-husband preferred it said way, this also being part of why he is now her ex.
When Eva Piotrowski graduated from OCAD (Ontario College of Art & Design) her initial paintings were mostly large surrealistic pieces like Fool, which is on her image inventory. It depicts the life cycle of a woman; we are born, we grow up and we die, in between, we drink coffee and shop, or so it seemed to her at the time. Also, she had a number of what seemed like prophetic dreams back then, one of which was awakening to a city underwater. She remembers thinking in her dream that as long as she could still get a good cup of coffee, all would be well. From there forward, Eva went on to paint bird women. Quite honestly she doesn’t know where that theme came from as she had no knowledge of aboriginal culture at the time and only discovered it much later on. She believes what she had been trying to convey 20 years go, was that we needed to go back to seeing art as being directly related to spirituality and life, not just an aesthetic idea. Nowadays, of course, this is quite a common theme. That series was popular in France, and she was offered a show at the Sorbonne in Paris and Bordeaux. A French writer once said that his very first novel was inspired by Eva Piotrowski's paintings.
Eva manages to transform complex elements of our emotions into astounding works of art. Her creations draw us, almost unknowingly, into a thought provoking, introspective disposition. The alluring, earthy tones and decisive strokes are both insightful and empowering, with a palpable atmosphere of our natural and seductive environment. This wonderful skill of hers is able to, even if just momentarily, remind us to release ourselves from the shackles of the concrete jungle that is our modern day society.
Q. What role does the artist have in society?
A. To me as an artist, it is the muse, my guiding spirit that gently pulls and prods until I am moving in the right direction, often even against my will. On the one hand is what I want and on the other is what I need, the two do not overlap much, but when they do, miracles happen. The canvas, once completed, speaks and can be heard. When I insist on defying the muse, my canvas lies dead, dormant, unwanted and speechless. The artist’s role is to show the mystery of life.
Q. Do you remember the first art you made. What was it and how old were you? How and when did you first become seriously interested in art?
A. Even as a young child I observed people’s faces, their bone structures, the effects of lights and shadows. I was visual, and at 8 years of age while everyone in the family was watching their new black and white TV, I was sitting on the floor with my sketch pad drawing their feet. Above my bed I had hung a print of the Mona Lisa and across from her a Modigliani copy. As a teenager I drew the Beatles, whom I adored of course, and my teachers hung all my work on their walls. My first report card in elementary school read that I was a very good artist.
I was often happiest while painting or drawing and later as a teenager, writing poetry, socializing was a secondary choice. I liked being alone and was never bored. Still am not.
Q. What have you had to sacrifice for this career?
A. Making money and giving my kids a richer life, but mostly, I have sacrificed having a social life and intimate relationships. I only had so much time to raise 2 children on my own, work and paint, and painting was an essential. Therefore, as a result, I don’t have a retirement plan or any close friends.
Q. Tell us about your particular style and how you came to it?
A. I have always loved the German Expressionists especially Egon Schiele and the American visual artist Alice Neel. I soon realized they said more about life in fewer lines than the traditional painters. Technique is good but it is less important in art than what the artist desires to communicate, emotions and atmosphere are what appeal to me.
Q. Who are your biggest influences? Are you inspired by the work of your peers or anyone else in particular?
A. Alice Neel is a great inspiration as well Paula Rego. Alice exposes people’s real personas and Paula exposes the political and social life of our times.
Q. What does your art aim to express?
A. I found very little appreciation for my art in Canada, often told by Canadian galleries that my art was “too European”. I think what they meant was “we are not interested in female spirituality, only conceptualism and what our clients will buy, for example, abstract decorative art, with no emotions and no figures”. I think back then the group of seven dominated people’s appreciation of art and the public wanted landscape or abstract only. I am mainly a figurative and/or abstract artist steeped in expressing and evoking emotions, which to me are the essence of being alive. Also, while in Paris for my next exhibition at the Sorbonne, I discovered that the only Canadian artist people in France knew about was Norval Morrisseau, while sadly Canadians in Canada had no idea of him. Back then, collectors were not interested in what was happening internationally, because the gallery owners wanted to have sole control over what their clients purchased, and Canadians were too sheepish to question them.
I speak about the feminine spirituality steeped in nature. When I began painting, this theme was a considerable surprise to me since I was an avid urbanite. I paint mostly women because I am one and that is my experience.
Q. Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
A. Yes, sometimes, but I actually love being alone and am never bored. Painting, good music and good literature are better than boring company.
Q. Apart from art, what do you love doing?
A. I love walks in nature, good literature, blues and jazz music.
Q. What is your philosophy in matters of art?
A. Art lost its meaning when it stopped being born from intuition, the muse gave up awaiting its return, and I think maybe in 2017 there was a little crack in its shell and we can see who are the artists listening and receptive to its voice. Then there is Barbara Kroll who speaks volumes with very little effort because the muse does not need perfect renderings to say what it needs to say, just enough to get the message across and portrayed with minimal amounts of medium.
As artists in the Industrial Era, we also need to consider making a living in the marketplace, and this, I think has been our downfall. Instead of listening to our spirit, we attempt to produce what we think the consumers will buy, and unfortunately, this has become the standard for art collectors' purchases. Often, well-rendered meaningless kitsch or/and a conceptually titillating idea, can generate a sense of genuine art. The painting of Trump in the nude recently purchased by some billionaire in England for one million dollars is an example. These types of pieces are mostly purchased so one can claim their ownership and acquire some sort of fleeting fame, and not because ones eyes are enchanted and cannot be peeled away from the work.
Q. What does 'success' mean to you?
A. Success is being able to say to yourself that you are living in a state of grace.
Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given, and by who?
A. The best advice has always been given to me by my Zen meditation teacher, claim no attachments and nothing is permanent.
Q. What advice would you give to the next generation?
A. Be true to yourself always. We all come to Earth with a purpose and if you have found yours stay true to it and stop doubting yourself and allowing for low self-esteem.
Q. What’s something about yourself or your life that might surprise others to learn?
A. I am a coffee addict and I also like beer, but that might not surprise anyone.