"MY WORK TEACHES ME TO MAKE INTERNAL COMPROMISES BETWEEN WHAT I CAN DO AND WHAT I IMAGINE."
Karolina Szeląg is a potter and sculptor born (June 1, 1980) and raised in Koszalin, Poland. She graduated from PLSP in Koszalin in the field of ceramics - utility forms. Since 1999 she has been creating from her studio and exhibiting her work at unique ceramics galleries, participating in workshops, courses and conferences and is fully devoted to art and ceramics in Poland and abroad.
Karolina creates sculptures and utility dishes, preferably made of porcelain or ceramic masses and for several years has been experimenting with bronze. Her intricate work is full of grace, delicacy and mystery, swirling somewhere between applied art and sculpture. The subject of her work is mainly directed to the relationship between man-to-man and nature with a limited palette of colors.
Her sculptures are the quintessence of her life philosophy. In the forms with simplified bodies and tiny, barely marked heads and heavy arms, which is a great characteristic of her work, one can read the diminutiveness of human existence. Sensitive to the aesthetic experience of surrounding nature, birds singing, the touch of trees and the sound of the sea, everything unites in the form of a finite sculpture. The recipients of her works are primarily clients from Poland, Germany, Great Britain, Norway, Italy, France, United States, Australia and Japan.
Karolina brings us distinctive, expressive and very much human subjects that find an oddly natural home in amorphous figures. The shapelessness and purity of the sculptures help communicate and almost define emotions. Our appreciation and our empathy for these emotions becomes less polluted as the figures are void of details and the clean emotional connection with the protagonist emphasizes the rugged beauty of Karolina's work. In some instances, the beauty can be unsettling and leaves us with more questions than answers: What is the commotion about - is the man diving or plunging off the edge? What does an angel think of when she sits alone drinking her tea? Art that leaves us pondering is art that touches and feeds our soul.
Q. How and when did you first become seriously interested in art?
A. I’ve had contact with art since childhood, my parents used to buy a lot of paintings from local artists. I consciously became interested in art thanks to my friend, an artist who showed me the work of Paweł Althamer. I was 16 years old at the time and it was a significant event, especially since I lived in a small village. Conceptual art was something unknown to me then. I never dared to go this way myself but I really liked this form of expression and dialogue with the recipient and reality.
Q. Do you remember the first piece of art you made? What was it and how old were you?
A. Before I took up sculpture in ceramics, I created spatial paintings. My parents had a printing plant where the printers used to leave their used materials, rags stained with the printing ink. I used to look at them and think they were beautiful so I glued these materials to painting canvases and some of them I soaked in plaster and paint. Very interesting spatial forms and patterns were created and I even managed to sell two of these paintings. My first piece in ceramics was the sculpture of a woman with full, exaggerated hips and a small torso. I have it today. I was 16 years old at the time.
Q. Who are your biggest influences? Are you inspired by the work of your peers or anyone else in particular?
A. I really like the sensitivity of the work of Henry Moore, Fernando Botero, Lynn Chadwick, Pablo Picasso and Frida Kahlo to name a few.
Q. What have you had to sacrifice for this career?
A. I used to think that I was sacrificing relationships with other people, family and love but now I know that it is not a sacrifice, it is a conscious choice. Therefore, I do not sacrifice anything.
Q. Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
A. In my opinion, artists are very emotional, intellectually complex, socially aware people so loneliness is indispensable to our way of life. It is in this intimate isolation where the art arises, it is a reaction, a state between what is external and what is inside of me.
Q. What does 'success' mean to you?
A. The opportunity to make a choice. I would like to come to such a point in creative life where material things will be sufficiently satisfied so that I can feel free in what I do and what I really want.
Q. Apart from making art, what do you love doing?
A. I’m a mother. I love spending time with my daughter. I love to be in touch with nature, painting, drawing, photography and listening to music.
Q. And last but not least, what is your philosophy in matters of art?
A. I treat my art as a process, a path in my pursuit of continuous improvement. In this, I feel efficient. My work teaches me to make internal compromises between what I can do and what I imagine.