A truly international artist, Magdalena Morey was born and trained in Lublin, Poland, but now lives and works in Spain. Her Abstract Expressionist Art reflects her migrations, exploring travel, anticipation, and isolation. Using a variety of different media, including watercolour, gold leaf, and acrylic, Magdalena creates paintings that are wonderfully expressive and bursting with life. We caught up with Magdalena on her latest projects and developments.
How would you describe your creative process?
The first thing to mention is that I almost never work from sketches. On the rare occasions when I do, it's usually in order to establish the exact composition or pose of a figurative that I want to capture. With all my work, fragments and layers of images form in my mind, joining and separating again, trying to find their place, until they reach a point where they're all combined enough into one piece for me to be able to work towards representing it with colour and texture. Once an image is formed there is an excitement and a need to express it; I always see those first splashes of colour like an eruption as the potential painting begins to form.
Where do you draw your colour combinations from?
I'm continually in awe of nature's palette and love to experiment with combinations that I see around me everyday. I find that at times I am drawn to particular combinations more than others as they resonate with my mood and these combinations can change and evolve as a painting progresses. With figurative work I rely more on the emotional content of the colours; every colour and combination of colours triggers an emotional response of some kind so I try to draw on those responses to create a palette that compliments the content of the painting I'm working on. Always I love to experience that sense of surprise and joy that comes from working an unusual combination successfully into a piece.
Do you see a correlation between your landscapes and your portrait figures?
Absolutely! As well as the more ambiguous, organic textures and forms that are common to both sides of my work, they feed each other, like Yin and Yang. I wrap myself in the cozy blanket of my ever-changing yet reassuringly constant landscapes, then explore my continually developing self awareness and emotional landscapes from within the framework of my figuratives, leading to a sense of vulnerability that sends me looking for reassurance again.
What are the sources of your inspiration?
I love natural textures and patterns and I also love to travel. Since 2005, I've lived in four countries, and before finding our home here in Asturias, I always felt a need to go out into the countryside to top up on natural, organic inspiration. Now I live in a rural area of Spain and am surrounded daily by what I consider to be some of the most beautiful views I've ever experienced, so travelling is not such an important factor now in inspiring the fundamental compositions of my landscape works. What I've found, however, is that the distance from my family has led to new elements developing in my work, including a stronger sense of geometry as a way of representing the connections between us aided by the incredible technology we now have at our disposal. After a while though, everything begins to lose its freshness in my mind and that's when I know it's time to get back to painting figuratives. They are my journey of self discovery, abstractions of my own emotional state, and working on them is almost therapeutic in that they allow me to express myself in ways I never could with words.
What does art mean for you, personally?
For me, art is a form of communication that represents emotions and which allows me to express and understand myself in the language of colour, texture and pattern. Whether other people understand it is another matter! Art resonates with different people differently and I think it is probably the goal of every expressionist artist to find an audience that gets a response to their work. Having people intrigued enough by your work for them to attempt to unravel the creative intention is like having someone trying to get to know you personally.
What's your philosophy in life? What's the philosophy behind your work?
That all life is connected. As humans with all our technological skills and advantages it's very easy to forget that we are still just a part of a far, far larger ecosystem. Since moving to a more rural way of life, I've been reminded of just how connected we are to the environment around us and how everything we do has an impact on other life in some way or another. I try to reflect this philosophy in my work by using my landscapes to represent the beauty and mystery of the environment around us and my figurative pieces representing the human side to that beauty, including aspects of loneliness and confusion, as well as the hope and desire to connect and coexist.
What's the most memorable, exciting or bizarre story, experience or encounter in your career as an artist? Or in your lifetime?
I don't think I can pick just one single event or experience. Having the opportunity to raise a family whilst exploring and experiencing what it is to be part of a community in so many different places has been life-changing. I have met so many amazing people from all walks of life, all trying to find their own creative ways of surviving, each with their own stories of suffering and success and each leaving their mark on my own impressions of reality.
How has covid affected you and your art?
Without a doubt, COVID has made me look into myself more and given me the impetus to return to my figurative work more regularly. The strict lockdown earlier in the year and the impossibility of traveling really made me aware of how much I miss my family and to question myself about the various decisions that led to me being in this particular place at this point in time. But I also found a sense of peace from being released from any social expectations or obligations and having to focus solely on art and family life. We only moved to our patch of countryside a little over a year ago so being isolated here has also really helped me feel connected with the land and to look at it from the perspective of a long-term resident instead of that of the perpetual traveller.
How do you think the art world will shape in the future?
I see two trends emerging; digital art and virtual exhibitions appear to be gaining momentum, especially against the backdrop of COVID and travel restrictions, but also I can see the emergence of recycled artwork and the use of recycled materials becoming more and more common.
Unfortunately I had to cancel a solo exhibition in Madrid earlier in the year due to COVID and due to the continuing situation, I'm not planning any physical solo exhibitions anytime soon, however, I will be included in various mixed exhibitions hosted by some of the galleries that I collaborate with, including the Darryl Nantais Gallery in Linton, near Cambridge and Signet Contemporary Art in London who will be representing me in the Affordable Online Art Fair running from 6-30 November. Hopefully by Christmas, I will also have my own virtual art exhibition up and running!