Interview with Αleksandra Waliszewska

Printed in Issue 21
Interview by Darby Milbrath

Αleksandra  Waliszewska loves animals. Her grandmother owned a horse farm that had sheep, a black dog that looked like a devil, and a goat that lived in a pasture nearby. She had a pony. She also likes the manul, wolverines, and hyenas, as well as mythological or make-believe monstrous animals. Her grandmother was a sculptor and carved a lot of animals. Her great-grandmother wrote fables. Aleksandra showed me a picture of her cat Mitusia who died. I love her paintings of her cat. She says that, “women bound and attacked by monsters have been an interest from a young age.” She tells me that her paintings of morbid young girls in oppressive situations are often self-portraits. The worlds of fairy tales and S&M come together in her paintings. Fantasy, surrealism, violence, and eroticism combine to create a particular type of goth horror. Hieronymus Bosch, Gertrude Abercrombie, and Francisco Goya come to mind. The works seem to stream easily and prolifically from Aleksandra’s inner consciousness. Strange little cats, demons, and solitary women are recurring motifs. I spoke with Aleksandra about her work and appreciated that she doesn’t like to talk about it much.

Darby Milbrath: The somewhat macabre imagery in your works reminds me of Goya’s paintings, Grimm’s fairy tales, horror films, comic books. What has the greatest influence over your work?

Aleksandra Waliszewska: Not long ago, I saw a motorbike in a rain cover. It was tied with a belt in the middle. It reminded me of a waist, then of a woman, so I painted a motorwoman. I am also inspired by pretty boys and little ugly dogs.

D: Where do you paint and what does that environment look like? I paint in a small studio full of plants and wonder how I would find you if I stepped inside your world. 

A: It’s probably a sort of railway area. A very cool place. I like to explore such places. Due to the fact that they are the property of the railway, they have not built modern housing estates there and you can walk through the bushes. I work in a cluttered place, surrounded by memorabilia and works of art.

D: Is painting these fantastical scenes a form of escape or release for you? 

A: No. Rather, I try to be the world’s greatest painter.

D: Is painting a way of playing out sexual fantasies? 

A: You are probably thinking of the piece where a pig fucks a big-titted blonde in a cave to the point of nosebleed.

D: Are you a spiritual or religious person?

A: No, to the contrary. Each religious person or New Age practitioner seems more or less suspect to me. Probably I shouldn’t be, but I’m surprised by people who accept such absurd stuff without any reservations.

D: Does music inspire your work? Do you listen to music when you paint?

A: When I was a teenager, I was very interested in music. I recorded radio broadcasts on cassette tapes and, when I got into a specific band, I drove to a remote area of the city to record its stuff on a CD in one of those pirate copying studios. It was a miraculous time of piracy. I was into The Fall, Dead Kennedys, or Big Black. However, at the end of high school, I discovered audiobooks so music took a back seat. Now I hardly listen to any. But I love audiobooks. Recently I have installed a program translating PDF files to one of those electronic voices. This discovery has greatly expanded the number of books to read. Unfortunately, I cannot read anything ambitious while painting, because painting also requires a bit of thinking. I listen to more ambitious things while cleaning, but I hate to clean.

D: Who are your favourite authors?

A: My favourite writers are: Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Gustave Flaubert, Nikolai Gogol, Zbigniew Uniłowski. Some of the books are read aloud by my boyfriend.

D: You are a very prolific painter. I read that you complete two paintings a day, every day. 

A: Time passes quickly, and the creator does not seem to become more productive getting older. I’m trying to use my time as I can.

D: What time of day do you work best?

A: I decidedly prefer to work by daylight.

D: What do you enjoy doing outside of your painting? 

A: I like to play Candy Crush Saga.

D: What painters inspire you?

A: I really like medieval art, early Renaissance. However, lately I have been dealing with Symbolism and there are a lot of interesting things there. I especially got hooked by Léon Spilliaert.

D: What are you working on presently?

A: Today I have painted: a bat-cat over the mountains, a bat-woman attacking a quiet house, and a sleeping crone, above which a bird flies.