Four Seasons by Tomek Sikora will open the autumn exhibition season in Warsaw's Leica Gallery. The photographer spoke about the synthesis of painting and photography in an interview with PAP (Polish Press Agency).
Daria Porycka, PAP: What can we see in the photographs from the Four Seasons series?
Tomasz Sikora: I wanted unreal things to appear in the photographs, for example, a field during the spring thaw, upon which sleighs were driven, leaving trails of indented snow. What fascinated me the most were transition periods, early thaws, the first snows which caused trees to bend as nature took on incredible forms for a moment. For instance, a plantation owner didn’t cut down his sunflowers. The flowers covered with snow made an amazing view.
The Four Seasons photographs are a bit like photographic paintings, or an impressionistic view of an issue which had bothered me for years. While I was living in Australia, where summer almost never ends, I longed for the four seasons, I missed the frost, snow, and varied aesthetic and fragrant qualities. I decided to evoke that atmosphere through photography. The pictures are heavily filtered by me, which means they not objective, not documentary. You can interpret them in different ways each time, which boosts the imagination.
DP: In your works, the border between photography and painting is blurred.
TS: I refer to the style typical for painting. For me, photography has never finished with pressing the shutter button, it was just the beginning. For many years, for example, I worked on the technique of staining images. I believe there is no such thing as perfection. For me, photography has always had to contain elements that would let the spectator detach from reality, to see it in a different way.
DP: You once said that “you don’t have to go anywhere to get a good photo”. Is this exhibition proof of that?
TS: Indeed. It seems to us that what we’ve got around is ordinary, monotonous, hackneyed, and if we go to India and see people lying on the street or dressed in wonderful, coloured garments, it will mobilize us to pick up the camera and take a snapshot, or even a more considered photo.
Even right here, in this gallery hall, you can take excellent photos based on forms, on this white, you can add a white cat or a lion here and come up with something that won’t bore anyone. Something happens everywhere, and mostly in the littlest places. There are plenty of subjects, it all depends on our sensitivity and on what we want to talk about. In a sense, we always talk about ourselves.
DP: And yet it’s considered that the power of photography is its ability to “stick the world in a frame”, to perpetuate it.
TS: That's a task for photojournalism. Beyond that branch, photography should also reflect our world, not only the objective world. We come to an exhibition to get to know the author, to discover what he wants to show, what kind of man he is, because one could be nutty and the other laid back. It’s important that what we see is photographed sincerely, not under pressure from someone else. Photography should stem from a need stimulated by life.
TS: I’ve recently noticed that I have a great desire to act as an antidote to the negative media, so the people watching my works feel pleasure, but not necessarily burst into laughter. Though personally I adore things that make me laugh, because thanks to them one can have at least fifteen minutes of complete detachment from reality and live one's life in a wonderful mood.
DP: How long have you been photographing the four seasons?
TS: It took me a few seasons, maybe three or four, but when I was describing the photos selected to the exhibition, it turned out that the oldest one was seven years old.
DP: What do you think about the global trend to post amateur pictures on the Internet using mobile applications? Should everyone be the photographer of their everyday life?
TS: Everyone should be the photographer of their life, photographing one's own daily life is absolutely the most important thing, it becomes a source of fantastic memories. I myself made two such projects, separated from each other by 10 years, named The Year Had Passed. They consisted of making self-portraits and descriptions to reflect my state of mind each day. I encourage others to do the same, because it allows us to see from a distance whether or not we are concerned about certain things too much. Besides, many people can’t accept their appearance and want to look different, and photos like these can make us like ourselves. There are so many people that don’t meet contemporary standards of beauty, but are joyful and give us so much positive energy.
Tomasz Sikora (born 1948) is a photographer, creator of theatre and film posters, book illustrations, and advertising projects for American and European agencies. He’s had several dozen individual exhibitions and his works have been awarded many times. In 2002, along with Andrzej Świetlik, he founded Galeria Bezdomna (Homeless Gallery), which promotes independent culture.
Tomasz Sikora’s photographs from the Four Seasons series are to be seen in Warsaw's Leica Gallery from 10th to 30th September 2014.
Source: PAP, Leica Gallery, ed. DS, 8.09.2014, transl. szm