Artist in Focus: Berenika Kowalska-Dybko

Pilipczuk Galler invites you to dive into the universe of artist Berenika Kowlalska-Dybko with us. Together with Kowalska-Dybko, we have selected works from her previous series and curated them in a different setting in our new gallery location. The exhibition gives us an opportunity to experience them once again and to feel, how paintings can grow and develop over time.

Our “Artist in Focus” program is our new initiative by which we wish to provide our audience with more in depth information about the artists represented by Pilipczuk Gallery. Through personal interviews and exhibitions showing selected works, we hope to contribute with a better knowledge about the artists, thereby serving a solid base for deeper experience and understanding of their oeuvre.

All are velcome to swing by the gallery during our opening times or by appointment. The “Artist in Focus” exhibit will be on view until the beginning of September.

Berenika Kowalska-Dybko

Short Bio: Berenika Kowalska-Dybko was born in 1989 in Lublin (PL). In 2014 she graduated the Faculty of Painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków. She received a lot of awards for painting, drawing and textile art by the Council of the Faculty of Fine Arts of Kraków. In 2014, she received a scholarship from the Ministry of Science and Higher Education. She was selected as one of the artists representing Poland at JCE Biennale 2015-2017 (Jeune Creation Europeenne). In 2017 she received a scholarship from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. In 2017, her painting was bought for the National Museum collection in Gdańsk, Poland. In 2019 she participed in Shiro Oni Studio art residency in Japan. She has participated in several group and solo- exhibition and her paintings are to be found among art collectors worldwide. Kowalska-Dybko lives and works in Warsaw.

Berenika Kowalska-Dybko, Untitled, 2022, oil on canvas, 150 cm x 120 cm

“WHEN I PAINT FROM THE SPIRIT AS MY SOURCE, IT FEELS LIKE A REVELATION”  – A personal interview with Berenika Kowalska

Maja Pilipczuk: The current exhibition of selected works from your older series, differs from other shows, where all the works are new. How did you prepare for this exhibition and what were your reflections about it?

Berenika Kowalska: It’s interesting to be able to work with paintings from different series, as it make’s me look at them in a different way. In this showing of my older works, I have focused on presenting paintings with pink as the main color. This color was an unconscious decision and not made deliberately. It hadn’t occurred to me I was using pink in almost all my series. In the past I have deliberately wanted to work with blue, red, orange, green and yellow but never pink. I think the pink color is very intuitive and comes to me spontaneously. This made me think about the use of pink color and what it means to me. Pink brings me a burst of refreshment and softens the power of other strong colours. It brings a joyful and youthful energy with it that leads my thoughts to “the beginning” of things. There is something exhilarating, fresh and powerful about it alongside with it’s softness and innocence.

 Do you think that the colors you chose for your series are influenced by your age, state of mind, external impressions or where does this source come from?

I think that all periods in life bring a different meaning with a new energy as well as colours. It’s difficult to explain verbally, I feel color very powerfully, intuitively and on a deeper level. When I paint my emotions, it’s always connected to a color. When I was a kid, I would ask my mom questions like: “Mom, what color do you think my name Berenika is?” Some people call this way of thinking by the term synaesthesia. For me everything has a color. This is probably why I became a painter.

Where do you think that this“super strong” need to paint with a certain color come from?

My spiritual beliefs deffinately have a strong influence on where my colours come from. I’m also affected by my surroundings, but while things like fashion/SoMe/design etc might affect my choice of interior or clothing they don’t have an impact on my painting. This comes stronger, from another source, from within and above.

That sounds very powerful. Berenika, we have been working together since the beginning of this gallery, and I have learned to know you as a very spiritual person. How do you use your spiritual life in your painting process?

I believe every human being consists of body, soul (emotions, mind, psyche) and spirit (metaphysic). Working on this exhibition with my older works, I can see that they all came from my body and soul. The main part of these older works came from soul processing: an inner psychological and emotional process, that came from what I was dealing and exploring with in that particular moment. Most of these older works were made when I was going through a period of getting to know my inner self better and processing many inner transformations. It was connected with mixed feelings like anger, relief, sadness, joy and much more. – I was preparing myself for a new period in my life. Some of these paintings were also very much connected to the body and show the forms of femininity, women curves, the integrity of my body and so on. After working with this series, I felt a change coming. I didn’t know what or how, but I felt a strong feeling of a necessity to being true to myself and to listening to this need of change. I could really feel it within me and I just knew that my paintings had to change. I didn’t know what the change was about. So, I took my time to figure it out. Literally, I quit SoMe, I focused more on myself and thinking about it. I got rid of unnecessary information and I went on a journey deeply inside this transformation. I wanted to enter a calm and quiet period. And I didn’t paint at all! I couldn’t paint in the old way and I didn’t know how to paint differently. Last time I felt this strong urge to change my painting process, the change was very radical. I went from painting figurative to abstract. But this time the change is more in my motivation: it’s about which source I chose to paint from. I wanted to silence the body/soul source and go to the spiritual space.

Berenika Kowalska-Dybko

Can you explain this spiritual source a bit more?

I can simplify it a bit. When I paint with the sours taken from the body, I focus more on a material form- on things that I literally can see and touch. When I paint from the source of my soul, I paint with my emotions. Like sadness, joy etc. I imagine what colors, shapes, movement are connected to them. It is something that is difficult to meets the eye, and that is why it can often manifest as abstract painting. But when I paint from the spirit as my source, it feels like a revelation! It’s like this amazing feeling of handing over my will to higer powers. For me as a Christian it can be shown by God, by the Holy Spirit. It is also taken from metaphysical, invisible and penetrating reality which I sense and I would like to spread. At this moment it’s very new and vulnerable to me. Of course, it’s all flowing and I think that it might be possible for a painting to contain a mix of these three different sources.

 Experiencing this big change within you, how do you look at your older paintings, coming from your body and soul and not so much from your newly discovered source from above?

I always thought that I was finished with the paintings from my past and that I was living and moving on with new paintings. But when I look back at these older pink paintings from different periods of my life, I get very moved by them. This is interesting and surprising for me. It’s like the paintings are not completely revealed for me while I’m painting them. Maybe this is the reason for them all being “Untitled”, because they are still uncompleted. There is always a part of the unknown in them. I think this is because my process is spontaneous and intuitive and because of this I believe that paintings are somehow alive. So, they are untitled because it allows anyone to explore them without any additional associations from the title, but also, they are open to me for different directions and depth and can be alive all the time. It’s because they come from an unknown part of me. The painting is universal and living and keeps growing with you. For instance, now the painting with the pink waterfall moves me very much! It’s back from 2019 and I’m so surprised by it. I thought that I knew everything about this painting, but now I see it from a new perspective and I’m so moved by it. I also see in it this spiritual part of new reality.

 Thank you Berenika, for talking about matters close to your hart and still very new to yourself. Last question, could your reveal a little glimpse of what your are currently working on and where can we see your paintings next time?

 Currently I work on an art project with a cooperation with my husband- Michał Dybko who is an engineer and architect. We have a plan to make a big art object where one can enter and be surrounded by painting and space. I hope that it can be finished and shown in the next year in autumn -probably in Lithuania. I am also happy to share that I am preparing another painting exhibition in late spring in Pilipczuk Gallery in Copenhagen.