By Anna Peirano
In a world saturated by the insta-picture, with digital editing making it easier and easier for everyone to claim they're the next Ansel Adams or Annie Leibowitz, Polish-born photographer Marek Emczek Olszewski is being noticed for his unique perspective, geometric aesthetic, and original selection of work.
Olszewski came out to his friends and family at the age of 20. "I was a bit anxious to do so, as I had heard that it is not that easy to be openly gay in Poland," he tells dot429. "Thankfully, and surprisingly, the reaction of my family and friends was great – they accepted me without questioning or preaching and gave me a lot of support. I felt lucky."
Desiring a new adventure, he moved to London in 2006 after breaking up with his then partner, and deciding to take a break from his University courses in film production. There, he rediscovered his passion for photography, and has never looked back, a decision he says he's never regretted.
"As I lost all the ‘strings attached’ I decided to leave my work and to try something completely different in a new environment," he says. "London changed me and helped me to rediscover my passion for photography. And I met my lovely partner Bryan here." Bryan and Marek have now been together for 6 years.
Read the interview with Olszewski below, and view a dot429 photo essay of his work here.
What are you inspired by?
I am inspired by life and freedom. Traveling, meeting new people, having an interesting conversation. I love discovering new places. Spontaneously, if possible. Also: music, film, literature and close people around me – life would not be the same without them.
Who are you inspired by? (Other photographers, artists etc)
To be absolutely honest, I have never been inspired by particular photographers. Since I started my adventure with photography, I tried to do my own stuff and to develop my own style. I always thought that it’s easy to get influenced by someone else’s work, sub-consciously.
Obviously, by now, I have my favourite photographers – it’s unavoidable. One of them is a street photographer Robert Doisneau. And recently Andreas Gursky – his perspectives and sense of logic fascinate me. However, I get a great inspiration from film directors, such as Krzysztof Kieslowski, Roman Polanski, David Lynch and Pedro Almodovar.
Also, my favourite Polish writer Tadeusz Konwicki – the action of many of his novels takes place in communistic Warsaw, which fascinates me greatly. The photo called ‘Stalin’s Stone’ was clearly inspired by Konwicki.
How would you describe your photographic aesthetic?
My favourite subjects are geometry, exaggerated perspectives, reflections, silhouettes, shadows, and all kinds of interactions between these elements. I would call my photographic aesthetic quite ‘bi-polar’.
From one hand - I love simplicity, which I find in geometric, minimalistic and abstract shots. I am trying to show buildings or other objects, often very well known and recognizable, from a new perspective. Taking them out of context, I would say, concentrating on details.
From the other hand, when I feel like having more ‘action’ in my photographs, I go for reflections, silhouettes, street shots – they can be very busy and even chaotic sometimes. The same situation with the colours – I love strong, striking colours, but black & white with a good contrast is also a big part of my vision.
The common thing for all my photographs (maybe except for the project called ‘4 Elements’) is that they are not superimposed and are taken naturally and candidly.
What does your creative process look like?
The creative process is quite simple: shooting, editing, publishing, framing. Most of the time I represent ‘a posteriori’ approach – I take my photos in a spontaneous way, without planning and researching. I treat my photography like ‘treasure hunting’ which is always based on my favourite themes I described above.
When editing, I do not use sophisticated software – simple editing programs are good enough for me. Manipulating includes the basic changes of contrast, sharpness, saturation and sometimes colour boosting. I am not an enemy of cropping, as it is necessary sometimes.
What is your ultimate goal with your photography? The dream scenario/trajectory?
My goal and my dream are to have my work displayed in several galleries all over the world. It would be great to be recognizable and appreciated as an artist. Also, to be able to make a living from my photography. My ultimate goal is to deliver certain feelings to the audience – it’s always the best compliment when someone says that a photographer’s work made one think or awaken some emotions.
How do you define success?
Success equals happiness. If you know how to enjoy life, found love, are in good health, have loyal friends and are able to travel and feel free – you are in my view extremely successful. In my eyes it does not have that much to do with money and fame.
Olszewski's work has been shown at the following locations:
- In April 2011 Olszewski's work was profiled in Spanish Art Magazine 'Artesomos'
- In May 2011 his work has been permanently exhibited in 15th century hotel Fox & Goose in Ealing.
- In November 2011 Marek had his first private exhibition in Gordon Ramsay's 'York & Albany' in Camden, London. It was successful - the opening night was attended by over 100 people. The work was exhibited in the venue for over 6 months.
- Based on November's exhibition his work was profiled in leading UK gay lifestyle magazine 'Out In The City', Christmas edition.
- In October 2012 Olszewski displayed his work at Art For Youth exhibition at Royal College of Art in London and achieved very good results in both, sales and feedback.
- In December 2012 Marek took part in Hazlitt Gallery's Christmas Art Fair in Kent, where 6 of his works were on show.
Visit Marek Olszewski's website here.
And follow him on Facebook here.