“My paintings are my intricate journals, very carefully curated,” Michelle Avery Konczyk told us, as she was prepping her solo show at Stone Sparrow NYC.“ I wouldn’t say that my ideas are based on things that I have read but, that they are stories that come from within myself, depicting how I perceive the world.” Konczyk seems to create work born from a personal story, a narrative in process, but The Nothing feels intentional. Take a look at our interview below.
Juxtapoz: We love what you are able to do with watercolors. What draws you to them?
Michelle Avery Konczyk: Watercolor allows me to not fit into any molds. There is a very specific style that comes to mind when you think of a traditional watercolor piece, and that is pretty much the exact opposite of what my paintings are. My work isn’t what would be expected from a watercolorist, and I think that’s why I can’t keep away from the medium. I want to see how much further I can push it and represent it in ways that differ from what is usually thought of when you think of a watercolor painting.
Oddly, I am also drawn to the complicated and meticulous part of the process. Watercolor gets tricky because all of the white is just the paper showing through. Each painting has to be strategically mapped out before paint gets to paper. And when it does, there is no going over or erasing. The entire process involves a lot of problem-solving and I like finding new ways to challenge myself and my craft.
It seems like each work is its own story. Do you make up a story with each work or are base your ideas off of things that you have personally read?
A common theme I resonate with is the duality of light and dark. I feel it exists in everything. You can notice this in the way my paintings tend to be dark and creepy while also being equally beautiful and delicate. All of the elements I include have symbolic significance and are placed carefully with full intent. Eyes are a connecting factor in every piece. They are constantly fading out, dripping, melting, bloody, on fire, somewhere unnatural, and their placement always plays into the meaning. When an eye is placed on a person in an unnatural way, it represents something internal and when outside of a person, they are more of a lurking, glaring, judgmental eye, that watches your every move. There is something very human about the surreal elements I incorporate in my paintings. I think it’s what makes others feel so connected to my work.
What is new work looking like for the solo at Stone Sparrow?
My work for Stone Sparrow is a little different than most of my other work, which I’m really excited about. For the first time, I’m giving my ‘characters’ a world to live in. It’s sort of this foggy woods type of place that has eye-flowers, people with eyes fading out of their heads, and weird portals that look like red glowing mirrors. Through these portals and surreal eyes, I imagine my characters as lost souls longing about the lives that they might have had or wished they had or they once had. I really wanted to put a place to this feeling as well as try to evaluate reality from the perspective of the mind’s eye. Eventually, I nicknamed this place ’The Nothing’ and decided later on that I would name the show after it.
My color scheme with this new series has more significance than in any of my past work. All of the work involves a cool-toned background that doesn’t reach full value, in unison with a warm and full-valued foreground. I want all of the pieces in this series to have a feeling of coldness when you first approach them but warmth after the paintings sit inside your mind for a while. It’s my attempt at making the audience feel content with the unpleasant and to learn to gain perspective from its glow.
Michelle Avery Konczyk’s The Nothing opened alongside the Birds of a Feather group exhibition at West Village’s Stone Sparrow NYC. Both exhibitions are on view through January 25, 2019.