So what does your work process look like? Where do you start?
I start by painting anything, it’s not important what. I don’t start with a sketch or a concept for the painting. Painting is the recording of movement on a 1:1 scale – you work in the field, and think on the canvas. I look at what’s in the painting and decide where to go from there. I try not to get ahead of things, and I’d rather limit myself to one current intention: this particular shape, paint this over, the left half of someone’s face from memory, put this piece of a photograph in this gap between these forms, or repaint half of the image in gray. The intentions are sometimes general, sometimes specific, and that’s how I paint them. Sometimes I modify my intentions while painting. That’s it, and I then start from the beginning. I look at what’s in the painting… Sometimes this process is quick, stroke after stroke, and other times I take long breaks.
At some point, I see that the painting is ready and that I don’t have to worry about it. I don’t actually work on paintings. I am working on myself, on decision making. There is no general rule or philosophy in them. It’s an incoherent but carefully nurtured collection of emotional and intellectual behaviors that makes a good painting.
It’s just like a termite mound. The termites don’t have a plan for it because it can’t be stored in DNA, but through the course of evolution they have developed specific, clear instincts based on the action-reaction principle. The many insects in the colony interact with this behavior, and despite there being no plan for the termite mound, it’s formed. It’s complex and it functions outstandingly. It’s organic, evolutionary, an emergence – in contrast to both the planned, Soviet approach as well as any formalistic decoration. This is my way to sneak in between a metaphor and a confection just like between Scylla and Charybdis. All things that come into existence this way are, in a sense, nature. You can see the logic in them, but it’s a logic that has developed by itself in the process of their formation. Nobody thought it up.
an excerpt of a conversation between Maria Rubersz and Tymek Borowski, June 2019