I have been away from the art scene for quite some time now and I think it’s high time I came back! I recently went to a private viewing of a promising young artist’s exhibition and gosh it felt so great to be among fellow art lovers. I must admit, the highlight of the entire evening was meeting the artist in person. If you have been following my blog from the beginning you would know that I have a thing for picking the brain of artists whenever I am in their presence..
I want to know the man behind the art. I want to know their process. I want to know who they are. What they had for lunch. Where they grew up. What inspires them. You know the silly bits…hehehe because at the core they are human beings like you and me!
On Thursday 3rd of September, a crowd gathered as Kees Moonen, gallery owner at Jan Royce Gallery, introduced Stanislaw Trzebinski’s solo exhibition of bronze sculptures at the gallery.
Stas is an amazing young artist who was born in Kenya and recently moved to Cape Town a few years ago. To be honest, I was almost tempted to title this post “Stas the great”. He is honestly impeccable at his craft and I hope you guys will be able to pop in to the Jan Royce Gallery to go check out his solo exhibition titled Beneath the Surface.
One of the most significant aspects for Stas is humans disassociation from nature. We have become so disconnected from our surroundings that we don’t even take the time to admire nature and the great outdoors. (I can admit to being one of those people who are always on their phones-tweeting, instagramming, updating my status, sending out emails…)
Stas is making interesting comments about the current relationship between human beings and nature in a world engrossed with social media and obsessed with taking the perfect selfie. What summarizes the exhibition is what Stas and I spoke about in a chat we had at the opening of his exhibition. I got to know him a little better—to know the man behind the art. I think behind the amazing work and the majestic intricate details in each sculpture lies a deeper meaning within the Stas’ work. Highlighting the detachment of humans and nature, which is a very interesting notion to place as a theme of artworks.
Perhaps there is a introspective quality conveyed in these works. We are asked to consider our position as human beings in relation to our surroundings, i.e. nature, to be more present in our everyday lives. Thank you for the exhibition Stas. It gave me a lot to think about!
You come from a family of artists yeah?
Yeah. My dad was a painter and my mom is a fashion designer. My grandmother is an author and an interior designer. They are all creative people I guess.
When did you realize that you wanted to become an artist? Was it when you were younger?
Well I grew up in a house that was very much full of art all the time. I had my dad’s paintings on the wall, the books that were in our library—Picasso books and Rembrandt, Matisse, It was just always around. So I fell in love with it at a young age.
But when did you know?
Well I suppose every kid wants to follow in their dad’s footsteps. I always (in the back of my mind) knew that I wanted to be an artist. I think when it really hit me was in high school; my high school art teacher was incredible, Liza Mekhai and I went to the International School of Kenya. So it’s a pretty high standard of education and I did high level art.
In my final exhibition I got (you get graded on an exhibition) 99.5% in my exam and that is when I knew that I could do it.
Did you always know that you had the gift or did you find out by accident?
I don’t think it’s very humble to say that you knew…
I was always inclined to think in an artistic manner. The difference was basically when I focus on sculptures, that is kind of where I know what to do. That is kind of my thing.
Before I was just a little bit, like a jack of all trades, I did mixed media, photography, painting, etc. I didn’t really focus on anything
When you put your energy into something that’s when you know that you love something.
What do you love about sculptures?
I don’t know. It’s a funny thing because I don’t see the …
Well if you’d ask me to draw something or to sculpt something I would rather sculpt than draw it. Even though it’s a lot simpler to draw it in terms of the amount of effort it takes my brain really thinks in a three-dimensional manner.
I actually struggle with drawing which is why a lot of my sculptures I don’t even bother with the sketching or anything. Also being so loose and free in a way that they end up looking in the end is not, you can’t actually plan it.
I wish I had the talent.
It’s also a manner of kind of knowing the tricks of the trade and there are certain techniques that you can learn. I especially focus on textures which are a very big part of my work.
Did you have a theme in your exhibition or did everything kind of connect?
There is definitely an underwater coral vibes going on. The motif through my art is kind of how like the human condition, the fundamental parts of what it means to be human, has become so dissociated from nature. We have become do disconnected from life. Everyone is always on their bloody phones the whole time. Nobody gives a shit about going for a hike or taking long walks in the outdoors.
I grew up in a country where I was outdoors most of the time and then moving to a very urban space kind of triggered that emotion in me.
And that is when you put that into your art.
Describe your process throughout making the sculptures.
I know that, in the beginning, I kind of know what I want. Like for example when I was making the crouching male sculpture I knew how I wanted it to look. So I had a bit of reference that I used to start with.
Who is your favorite artist of all time?
That is a very very broad question.
I definitely like in terms of sculptors, Dylan Lewis has obviously been a massive influence in terms of the anatomy. Michele Oka Doner, an American artist as well; she does also very much these kinds of anatomical sea beings.
But I mean, I appreciate each piece individually I don’t think I follow the work of a specific artist. I like to kind of gather inspirations from stuff that I encounter. The internet is such a good tool to do that these days.
Any advice for young artists?
I suppose I’m a bit of an anomaly when it comes to that because I didn’t choose to go to art school. I left. But some people need guidance and if you feel that you don’t necessarily need it and you have the passion then you have to do it.
I mean being an artist is a profession, and if you treat it like a profession then you can make a living out of it. I wake up 6 o’clock every day and I’m at work at 7. Not because anybody forces me to but because I’m doing what I love and I’m putting in the hours. The more hours you put in, the better you get at something. And that’s what you get! You put in your ten thousand hours and you’ll master your trade. That’s all you have to do.
Beer or Wine?
Depends on the evening.
And Your favourite meal?
Do you mind telling me how old you are exactly?
23 and a half.
[Interview also featured on morethanfood.co.za]
“Beneath The Surface” Solo Show runs till September the 27th at Jan Royce Gallery, 64 Church St, Cape Town.