Crevices of Colour
It needs to be said straightforwardly: the hands practically itch to get at these paintings. You want to touch them, slide your hand over the smooth shiny strip of paint, like it was the paint of a luxury car of the surface of a designer fridge, accidentally brushing against a rough surface that’s happening farther on and feel more, dig in the grooves of colour, like in hardened plasticine.
Just looking at Sebastian Skoczylas’ paintings evokes a multitude of sensory impressions, so diverse is their texture, so attractive and shiny that smoothness, so juicy the hues. These paintings are appetising. The artist himself takes away our vocabulary dilemmas and says that the delectability of the paintings is important to him. We write about the desire to touch the paintings; he blithely talks about the desire to lick their smooth textures. It’s true, they are very much like coloured candies in different stages of consumption.
And that’s just the start because there is a whole story about abstraction in these paintings, about detachment from reality. This detachment is key here, although we want so much to see something in the abstraction, an object, a story, a memory, a sensation, it doesn’t matter what, as long as there is something. And here, we have the construction of the painting, structure, colour, light, texture. Everything and not much as far as the story is concerned. It’s difficult to talk about it, as if words are helpless in the face of abstraction — because how much can you talk about value?
‘The language of abstraction may be even more appropriate in the case of reality, which is difficult to put into words, or realistic paintings’, Skoczylas says. ‘I myself try not to suggest anything, not to guide. I think that there is a space in the painting for the viewer, for their personal feelings, their own interpretation’.
After all, nothing is so liberating, both for the artist and the viewer, as abstraction. Yes, it has roots in reality, and Sebastian Skoczylas’ paintings were also created in the process of recording reality and then synthesising it, subordinating it to the framework of composition, and now it moves more and more towards creating objects.
‘To start painting abstractly, you have to free yourself from everything that’s external, visible, and so on’, the artist explains. ‘But this liberation is probably also a process. There are probably some traces of landscape in my works. For me, the landscape, if it still functions somehow, is probably in the composition, horizontal divisions, proportions. There is also something like “gravity”. Both for me and for the viewers, there is no doubt which way is up and down in the painting, where the “heaven” is and where the “earth”. It’s a question of proportions, heaviness or lightness of individual planes, and so on. In this sense, my works can be “landscape-like” in their own way.
I’m interested in a kind of borderline between the painting as representation and the painting as an object in and of itself, between the representation of reality (external or internal) and the creation of a new one. Actually, abstraction is already a transition to the other side, but this sensualism is a step further in this direction for me’.
He has been creating abstract paintings since mid-way through his studies, since 2002. First a student and then a graduate of the Academy of Art and Design in Wrocław, he referenced the impressionists, post-impressionists, and above all, to the work of the legend of the Academy, Professor Józef Hałas.
Hałas said: ‘I would like to be in balance between art and the reflection of life, of nature. Also in balance between intuition and awareness’. He also said, ‘All my painting is a return to the area of my childhood, those themes, fascinations’. Now, years later, the latter statement takes on significance in the work of Sebastian Skoczylas. It is not even about motifs, but about emotions and ‘fascinations’.
‘The intensity of experience is important to me. My paintings are intense in their own way, saturated, loaded with energy. I supplement the saturated colour with texture. I try to build a kind of tension in the painting. As far as colour is concerned, it manifests in the placement of appropriate contrasting colour fields next to each other. It’s the same with texture of the painting: I place smooth surfaces next to rough ones, shiny ones next to matte. They all intensify each other.
There is probably a little bit of subconscious longing for experiencing something very intensely there, the way we experience everything when we’re children. I feel myself losing this ability over time. Creation is this kind of inner stimulation for me.
I think the desire to drag your hand over the surface is the correct reaction. Just like when we’re children, we want to stroke what’s pleasant to the touch, lick what seems appetising…’
Wojciech Tuleya, Małgorzata Czyńska