ARTIST OF THE YEAR 2021
Margaret Wasiuta was named the CRYSTAL ARTIST OF DECEMBER 2021 and was automatically entered into the first ANNUAL ARTISTS OF THE YEAR EVENT where she was then named the SAPPHIRE ARTIST OF THE YEAR 2021. Meet this exceptional artist, experience her breathtaking and mysterious work and learn about her envious, European background which helped shape her intense and deep approach to her art in the following feature and interview which was created in recognition and celebration of her
SAPPHIRE ARTIST OF THE YEAR 2021 title.
"The way I feel and think while creating is what initiates the interplay between the emotional world and the process of painting. Exploration of this relationship allows access to a seemingly infinite well of vitality and creative energy. Experiment, risk and the great unknown all take part in this “game”. Regardless of the final result, all these efforts combined always lead to some form of development… and the sense of this is priceless." -- MARGARET WASIUTA
Born in Poland, Margaret graduated with a Master's degree from the Faculty of Interior Architecture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow. Additionally, she completed the internationally acclaimed Paris College of Art summer program (PCA) in France. During her studies, Margaret was consistently recognised for her work in the discipline that she was most enamoured with: painting, she was awarded distinctions every year.
Following her move to Canada, Margaret made a career out of designing and creating displays and exhibit materials for various architectural and retail applications. She later branched out into fashion styling, commissioned painting, interior design/arrangement, and special events staging. During this period of time, her paintings found homes in private collections in Canada, the United States, Poland, and France. In her spare time, Margaret facilitated several children's programs as a volunteer at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) and Runnymede Public School.
Although she found this work to be innovative and exciting, the hectic pace and strict deadlines limited her ability to create personally meaningful artwork. In recent years, she has focused on bringing her inner experience to the canvas and hopes to connect with others through this genuine form of expression.
Her recent exhibitions and awards can be viewed HERE
She is a Member of CFS Ontario, Art Resilience Movement, France, SCA-associate, Canada
Acrylic on canvas
GR - What drives you to paint? Do you feel you are trying to share, solve or discover something deeply personal or are you conversing with the public about a collective or global concern? Is it an outlet for escape or therapeutic purposes?
MW - The desire for exploration, experimentation and restoring balance to chaos is what drives me to paint. Inspired by life, nature and people, my painting is a way of storytelling. Using the language of colour and lines, I attempt to translate my own feelings onto to the canvas. I am devoted to sharing my experiences, thoughts, memories and the musical flow that substantiates my world of emotions. I paint mostly abstract… but not always. Presenting the human form in dreamy ways has become a common theme in my work, one that depicts a life-long search for meaning.
My recent series tends to focus on the creation of a structural space which represents both an atmosphere of personal experience, as well as an active state of mind. The creation of this image often becomes a living process, blending the boundary between abstraction and representation. My paintings are meant to be an open invitation to the viewer, providing the space from which individual meaning and significance emerge. The dreamscape is a very interesting place. If you step outside of the busy mind for a while, it can free you from the stubborn shackles of daily routine into a deeper world of awe, wonder and meaning… sometimes accompanied by a form of emotional relief, if needed.
GR - Your words above are very intriguing. How do you visually represent and express an “active state of mind” in your paintings and what is it about this idea that interests you?
MW - For me, an “Active State of Mind” corresponds quite well with what is known as “Flow”. This occurs in the place between intuition and conscious decision-making. Expression of the internal state through the action of painting is a working process, during which the actions and awareness come together. When in a “Flow” I am totally immersed in this work process, following instinct and intuition. With the initial blurry concept in my mind, I express “the mood” by composing colour, light, shadow, line, shape, form and texture, while at the same time considering intensity, vibration, manipulation, transformation, depth and movement of all these elements. I really enjoy “just being” and playing with my pieces without distraction.
GR - You state that your work becomes a “living process”. Do you feel as if you are creating or birthing something that is alive and breathing? Does it take on a life of its own which continues after you complete and leave it? Or is it just the process itself that is alive?
MW - There is an intimate and vital relationship between the artist and the painting. A proper choice of means of visual expression might gain the power of non-organic life; a life that emerges from the lines of a drawing/painting or the musical notes in a piece of music. Eventually the soul is immortalized within the creative form and painting becomes alive and takes on a life of its own. This process can be contained within one piece or it can continue and develop into the next series of canvases.
The following quote helps to demonstrate this idea: “There is no work that indicates a way out of life. Only bodies die, not life itself” - Gilles Deleuze.
PIECES FROM "IMMACULATE SOUND" SERIES
Acrylic on canvas (18 x 18 inches)
Acrylic on canvas (16 x 20 inches)
Acrylic on canvas (16 x 20 inches)
GR - Your series “Immaculate Sound” consists of breathtaking and mysterious forms and structures which appear to be made of a delicate fabric of glass or ice. Can you share the inspiration and meaning behind this stunning and otherworldly collection and what made you steer clear of strong and vibrant colour?
MW - The imaginary world depicted in the “Immaculate Sound” series simply reflects my longing for something unspecified and unattainable… something that was always missing and for which my longing has been intensified over the last few years. Looking for the purest sound, this multi-layered mix of structural space attempts to integrate geometric and organic forms into a calm dreamscape without borders. The mood/vibe/ambiance I wanted to create required a quiet colour and tone with an undercurrent of floating and wandering light. This series was heavily influenced and inspired at different times by love, depth, space, water, wind and a descent into the great unknown.
GR - Do you feel that living and studying in Krakow has enriched, shaped or deepened your work in some way that is advantageous or unique here in Canada? Has Poland added flavour and wisdom to your paintings and if so how would you describe its participation and contribution?
MW - I think everybody is unique in some way. My lifeline starts with my parents – both of whom were doctors with big hearts and open minds. Then came school, education (music and fine arts), tutors and friends who created the environment in which I was raised. Krakow – with all its beauty, magic and mystery, is where all my senses and abilities were awakened. The city dates back to the 7th century with an omnipresent history of arts and science, being one of the leading centres of academic, economic, cultural and artistic/bohemian life in Europe. Since 2000 named the European Capital of Culture, My Alma Mater - Jan Matejko Academy of Fine Art (established in 1818), is where I got a chance to interact with a dizzying variety of extraordinary and often eccentric people. With unique architecture and the specific charm of European flavour all around me, I often visited the Majestic Royal Castle on Wawel Hill which is inhabited by the Wawel Dragon as legend has it.
Just around the corner from my home was the largest medieval market square in Europe, with thousands of pigeons around and the Latin motto “Ordo et Pax” (Order and Peace) carved in the wall of the Benedict Monastery. The winding street named after my great-grandfather was often my running track, where the resounding five-note historic trumpet tune played every hour from the highest tower of the Saint Mary’s Basilica (the noon performance is broadcast via radio to all of Poland and around the world). All these “ingredients” among others undoubtedly still influence the motifs throughout my artwork and my life in general. Krakow was the vessel in which my foundation was formed. This beautiful city supported my journey into a wider world and within myself - giving me courage, resilience and a belief that anything is possible. Living there opened my eyes to the beauty of the wider world, resulting in the acquisition of my second Homeland – Canada. This is where my son was born and a sense of recognition emerged amidst themes of hope, change, growth and mystery.
GR - Your work often contains the human form which appears to be emerging partially from an abstract space resulting in an ethereal and dreamy atmosphere. What has made you go beyond pure abstraction? Does this inclusion of figures represent a specific and perhaps personal statement or commentary? Does it reflect an interest in expanding the narrative or an effort to have a different conversation with the viewer?
MW - Throughout my work, there is a thriving relationship between signs, symbols, gestures, forms, life and vitality. The world I often create is an unsolved riddle… a space where incompletely defined messenger-silhouettes lurk as expressions of a blurred, hazy memory. The human form and features may allude to something recognizable and its interpretation is left open to the viewer. The figures often represent an intimate connection to nature, seeing the Earth as a sensual being to commune with by rooting into her depth and extending out into the night sky. The recognition and re-creation of this process in the viewers can facilitate a deeper union with life itself and ultimately encourages their mindful awakening through the senses.
Acrylic on canvas (40 x 34 inches) $3,800.00
GR - What prompts the beginning of one of your paintings? Does a colour, form or mood inspire it first and then you build upon it? You use a variety of paint and other media in your creations. Do you follow a system or order when it comes to the application of them on your canvas?
MW - I always keep my eyes open and observe the world around me for inspiration. It can come from a passage that I’m reading, an archetypal hero, a moving piece of music, my earliest childhood memories, meaningful conversations or just by simply observing the natural world. This foggy conceptual starting point stays in my mind for a while until a clearer image arises and flows onto the canvas. My process of painting is both spontaneous and meditative… it embraces both logic and happenstance. Each piece determines and guides my action. Each piece I have to listen to. To accomplish my goals of expression, I make use of acrylic, oil, pastel, charcoal, glaze and varnish in various combination. Layer after layer I want to expose what is underneath to reveal its infinite depth. I don’t have any particular system or order that I follow in my work. The image I create has intuitive origins, often originating from my imagination, memories and dreams. The one question I like to ask myself right at the beginning and again at different points throughout the creative process is this: What do I want to say?
GR - Congratulations on winning the impressive, first place medal at the 7th Salon International Art Resilience in France. Did you visit there in person to accept your medal? What was it like to receive this recognition?
MW - Thank you so much! Unfortunately travel restrictions around that time prevented me from accepting the award in person but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen in the future! I would love to visit this wonderful group of people representing the Art Resilience Movement which is right in the heart of the European Art Scene in Montmartre. As for my reaction to winning the first prize; I was overwhelmed with happiness, excitement and was a bit surprised to be quite honest! But in a way it proves one of the central beliefs that I’ve held throughout my life: anything is possible. It was a great honor for me to become a member of this prestigious group, especially given its ties to Paris – the city where I painted fan-art for tourists during summers in my youth.
"On behalf of the museum officials, and on my own behalf,
I congratulate you on the 1° Prize which has been awarded to you in the 7° Salon International Art Résilience".
GR - Which artist or art movement has most informed and stimulated your work and how does this influence present and involve itself in your paintings today?
MW - The search for profound realization about the self and the world, which gives rise to an infinite range of emotional and sensual responses, is essentially what I would like to convey through my work. I am influenced by a lot of people, having searched out many great works over the years, not to copy them but to understand what they meant. Expressionism (specifically the Blue Rider/Der Blaue Reiter), Late Modernism (Abstract Expressionism), Bauhaus, the School of Paris, Les Nabis, Magic Realism and Art Resilience have all been incredibly meaningful to me as intellectual and spiritual movements at different times in my life.
Work in progress
GR - You have extensive experience in other art-related fields. Did these different careers share common ground and overlap in their artistic nature and were you comfortable transitioning between them? Which one do you feel was the most connected to your identity as an artist and did it directly contribute to your work?
MW - I studied a great variety of fields at the Academy of Fine Arts from art history, sculpture and painting to graphic design and interior architecture. This 5 and half year period instilled in me the principles of art and design, while offering a thoughtful and structured program that ultimately helped me transition smoothly between different art-related fields throughout my career. If I had to pick one period that truly brought me back into alignment with my authentic self, it would have to be the time I spent in my son’s grade-school classes teaching the kids how to make papier-maché bees, still-life drawings and simple water-colour paintings. At the time, I was feeling quite stuck and uninspired in my professional career. Helping these young minds discover and express their creativity, curiosity and joie-de-vivre ultimately put me back in touch with my own artistic identity.
GR - What can the world expect next from the artist Margaret Wasiuta?
MW - ….... your guess is as good as mine!
GR - Thank you for opening the door to your art practice and allowing a peek inside. It has been a pleasure spending time with you and learning about the person behind the beautiful paintings.
MW - Writing or speaking about my work is not something that I am typically fond of, given that it does not seem to come naturally to me. I am grateful for your thoughtful questions and always humbled by the responses to my artwork.