Place: Global Art-Wohnzimmer at the Germanischen Nationalmuseum, Kartäusergasse 1, 90402 Nürnberg.
It’s a dark late Tuesday afternoon, and I am on my way to meet up with my interview partner for the next Artist of the Month article. I met with Maja Bogaczwicz in August at the vernissage in the VIEW Gallery of the BBK (Berufsverband Bildender Künstler*innen) Mittelfranken in Veillodterstraße 8. One of her pictures from the series “Zustand der Dinge (State of Things)“ had cast a spell on me. In her studio and project space there, we happened into conversation and she drew my attention to the Global Art Festival 2021 at the Germanisches National Museum of which she served as artistic director and had taken over the project management for the events programme Global Art Wohnzimmer. I asked to interview her for English Post and she agreed.
Lydia: Hello Maja, thanks for the invitation and for taking the time to meet me today. I haven’t been here for a couple of months since attending a jazz concert from the event series ‘Muse in the Museum’.
Maja Bogaczewicz: I am delighted to welcome you at the Global Art Wohnzimmer today and be able to talk about my work and my art.
Lydia: And I am really looking forward to learning more about you and your work. Let’s start with the question-and-answer game:
1) Are you a night owl or an early bird?
Maja Bogaczewicz: It depends on the season and the situation. In winter I like to be active at night and in the summertime I enjoy the hours of sunshine.
2) Where do you get your inspiration for your art from?
Maja Bogaczewicz: Depending on the artwork or series of paintings I am currently working on, there are many different sources of inspiration. For example, it can be inner images and pictorial ideas triggered by what I have seen, experienced or perceived with various senses. It can also be scenes and observations from everyday life that express the spirit of the time or current events.
3) Do you have any artistic role models?
Maja Bogaczewicz: The American pop artist James Rosenquist is one of my most important role models because of his artistic and social attitude. He mockingly looked at and reflected on the world of consumption and politics in his paintings and later actively campaigned for the peace movement and the rights of artists
4) Do you get angry about criticism?
Maja Bogaczewicz: How I respond to criticism depends on the nature of the criticism. Constructive criticism is always very welcome. If it invites dialogue and exchange, I find it exciting and enriching. Criticism that is a mere devaluation and does not contain any alternatives or reasons can get on one’s nerves. These are also stimulating moments that can help you move forward. If the criticism doesn’t feel good, it’s a hint that there are still issues that may need looking at more closely. I’m usually pretty good at assessing how the criticism is meant and dealing with it accordingly.
5) What are you proud of?
Maja Bogaczewicz: I’m very proud of the fact that I stayed on the artistic path and kept going, even though there were many difficulties, interruptions, and challenges in my everyday life, such as my emigration to Germany and reorientation. I’m also delighted and grateful that I have been able to found my own studio gallery and that this has created new opportunities for joint projects with other creative artists. I am hugely grateful and proud of all the people who have supported me on my way and of the friendships that have been strengthened.
6) Where would you like to be exhibited once in your lifetime?
Maja Bogaczewicz: I wouldn’t mind being exhibited at the Neues Museum Nuremberg, Pinakothek der Moderne Munich, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Tate Modern in London or at Le Centre Pompidou in Paris. I would also love to show my work in unusual places or contexts where it can develop new impacts. These could be spaces that do not necessarily have anything to do with the art market and consumption of art.
7) What is your favourite place and your favourite part of town in Nuremberg?
Maja Bogaczewicz: I am taken with the medieval character of the city centre. I find the city wall with the castle gardens very inspiring. They remind me of the green ring “Planty” in my birthplace of Krakow. I have pleasant memories of the Wöhrder Wiese, where I did Acro Yoga for the first time, and the Hainberg nature reserve. The cycle path along the Pegnitzgrund between Fürth and Nuremberg is also one of my favourite places.
8) What is your favourite dish?
Maja Bogaczewicz: I am a huge fan of vegetarian Indian and Thai cuisine. My favourite dish should have either spinach and homemade cheese or beans.
9) What do you always have at home in the fridge?
Maja Bogaczewicz: As a vegetarian, I always have superfoods like various seasonal vegetables, ginger, lemons, and sliced onions in the fridge.
10) Who would you definitely not want to sit at a table with?
Maja Bogaczewicz: Under no circumstances would I want to spend time with people who hold extreme beliefs or opinions and moreover those who despise or disapprove of other people or beings in word or deed. I would like to sit at a table with John Lennon, Mahatma Gandhi, Maria Skłodowska-Curie, Wisława Szymborska or Camille Claudel.
11) What character traits do you appreciate or value in others?
Maja Bogaczewicz: In other people, I particularly appreciate honesty, reliability, and a positive attitude. I think it’s great when someone is polite and profound, can rely on their own intuition and dare to break new ground.
12) How do you relax?
Maja Bogaczewicz: I relax easily in a hot bathtub with salt, rose oil and candlelight. Actively I can relax by practising yoga and walking in the forest or by a river. When I paint or create and am in a state of flow, I can also relax deeply and forget the whole world.
13) Where is your next trip going to be?
Maja Bogaczewicz: The next longer voyage will be a homeward journey to Krakow to visit my family and my friends at the end of December.
14) What dream do you want to fulfil yourself?
Maja Bogaczewicz: I wish for a long and healthy life full of joy and many enriching encounters. I always want to find the strength and opportunities to implement my ideas excitingly and to discover new things.
15) Life is too short to…
Maja Bogaczewicz: Life is definitively too short to be whiny, to be frantic and to let yourself be pulled along by radical mindsets. Whether you laugh or cry, life is over at some point anyway. Laughter is good for me, even if sometimes with a tear in my eye. And I always try to decelerate my thoughts to keep the inner balance wherever radical beliefs clash and divide people.
Lydia: Thank you for taking time to meet with me.
Maja Bogaczewicz: My pleasure!
Additional info about Maja Bogaczewicz:
Maja Bogaczewicz was born in 1983 in Krakow, Poland. Maja felt that painting was her passion at a very early age andshe was strongly encouraged to paint by her two artistically inclined parents. Her detailed drawings pleased her father especially, and he gave her additional advice and regularly talked with Maja about her art. In the 8th grade, her great love for nature led her towards marine biology. When she was around 14, following a period of excessive study, she suffered a form of burnout and needed a way to express her feelings. That was the point in her life when she started painting and drawing again. As a result, at age 15, she decided to go to an art high school. After graduating from the Józef Czapski State Grammar School of Fine Art of Krakow, she continued her artistic education at the Arts Department of the Pedagogical University of Krakow. In addition to a diploma course in engraving arts and painting she also has a master’s degree in art history and art education.
After a short time in England, she relocated to Germany in 2011/2012. She started out in Munich. A little while later she moved to Fürth to get her teacher qualification recognized and discovered that Nuremberg is the official twin city of her hometown Krakow. For her, Fürth was very welcoming thanks to its cosy character and location on the river, as well as its secluded nature not far from the city centre. It offered her a perfect refuge to gather new energy and strength and a way to find peace. Moreover, in the past seven years living and working in Fürth and Nuremberg, she has formed connections and friendships with many other international artists from the region.
Maja Bogaczewicz is a visual artist focussing on painting and printmaking. Occasionally she also creates illustrations and logos beside installations in public spaces. Her artwork mainly deals with interactions between people, objects, situations, and inner states. These are often expressed as an interaction of formal and contextual similarities and contrasts. For example, a surprising combination of designed pictorial structures using graphics and paints or the juxtaposition of smooth, pasty and relief-like surfaces.
Her artistic work is essentially characterized by two different styles. On the one hand, she likes to work with semi-abstract, modern, and reduced graphics, located in the style of critical surrealism, where the modern dichotomous human being is at the centre. The paintings are mostly kept in contrasting colours like black and white or complementary colours such as red and green. These graphic works are often about breaks and contrasts, contemplating how technology interferes with people’s lives and nature. They also often examine inner conflict and the search for unity. The human urge and desire to locate oneself as part of a greater whole. In contradiction, reality is often a “tohu bohu” (confusion and emptiness). In our complex world that is in perpetual flow, multiple things happen simultaneously, giving the impression or feeling that events overlap. And so, the people and objects depicted in Maja’s paintings also frequently merge into one another. This can be seen in her recent series“Zustand der Dinge (State of Things).” In these pictures, however, the viewer also often sees people on the move or who are walking fast.
For example, the work “Alarmstufe Rot (Red Alert),” which belongs to the series “Zustand der Dinge (State of Things),” is full of all these allusions and motifs that refer to the pandemic, besides other current social ills like the exploitation of the continent of Africa, drought and world hunger. Climate change and that symbol of prosperity, Germany’s favourite child, the car, still indispensable for many people, also appear in this picture.
Maja also paints very colourful pictures where organic curved lines and bright colours predominate. She likes to work with complementary colours such as red, pink, green and blue preferring to work with high-quality oil paints and occasionally with acrylics. She always prepares her canvases herself, i.e. she stretches and primes them.
This other artistic style of hers can be described as psychedelic pop art. Here she likes to work on paper and with oil paints or watercolours. In addition to motifs from nature and the underwater world, she also draws portraits as seen in her current work for the band “Off Brain Project,” for which she is currently designing seven album covers.
People with closed eyes are another recurring motif in many drawings, as in many of her art works. Besides giving them a certain mysterious aura, the closed eyes infer introspection and reflection. These pictures often reveal one of Maja’s great talents, namely her distinctive ability to capture the emotions and inner states of people.
Maja Bogaczewicz herself says: “For me, my own paintings are often an open secret, a kind of unsolvable visual riddle. They develop from an initial idea into a surprising ensemble of colours, shapes and layers of space that appear quite clear in their effect and yet elude unambiguous verbalization because the pictorial elements are linked in various ways and can thus be seen and interpreted time and time again.”
She has exhibited, among other places at: ‘Global Art Wohnzimmer’ at the ‘Global Art Festival’ Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nürnberg (11/2021 -01/2022), the Opening of the Atelier & Galerie Maja Bogaczewicz ‘Gastspiel Fürth 2021’ (10/2021), at ‘Gedankennahrung’ BBK Gallery in Kulturspeicher Würzburg (08/2021), at ‘Tatort Atelier’ Nürnberg (06 – 07.2021), at ‘MEIN JAHR 2020’ Fürth, as artistic director and participating artist of ‘ART PROTEST’ Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nürnberg (10/2020), in the ‘Global Art Festival’ auf Kulturwerkstatt auf AEG (10/2019), at ‘BBK Gallery VIEW’ (2018, 2019 and 2020), at ‘VORSICHT NATUR!’ an art installation in public space at Seuffertstraße 2, 90443 Nürnberg (3.10.2019),and at ‘DER INNERE ORT’ at Yogameera, Nürnberg (10/2018).
More about: Maja Bogaczewicz
This article is written in British English.