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How They See - Issue #12: Ewa Matyja about dropping a corporate job, being a self-taught artist and her biggest inspirations

Ewa Matyja is a polish abstract painter who currently lives and creates in Bali. However, in her life

How They See

September 19 · Issue #12 · View online
How They See will help you to meet artists from all over the globe and understand their perception of art. Published weekly on Saturday.

Ewa Matyja is a polish abstract painter who currently lives and creates in Bali. However, in her life, she had a chance to travel and live in different countries and areas of the world. It is the surrounding and nature that inspire her and you can see it on paintings. Colors, composition and textures, they are much different, depending on place where the works were created. Take the newest as an example: you can clearly see sand or tide patterns reflected on the canvases. In my opinion, though, her works have one common denominator: they make you focus and stay present, in the very moment you are experiencing them. 
You can find more about Ewa Matyja on her website or Instagram.

You have dropped a corporate lifestyle to become a full-time artist. What has led you to take such a decision?
Art was always my biggest passion. I was creating from a very early age until I was about 18 years old - when real life started, with the real college and real job. I think I was never told that your passion can be your way of living. I moved out of Poland when I was 19 and worked for many years in fashion in several countries. During this time I always surrounded myself with art and wanted to go back to it, but didn’t really see a straight way out. Every attempt of painting was not honest, felt forced and not intuitive. I got to the point where I realized that to follow my dreams I have to dedicate fully, so I dropped my corporate job, moved out of Ireland and focused on creating art.
I can only imagine that has involved plenty of different challenges. What was the biggest you have faced at that time?
There were many different types of challenges. It’s really hard to get out of your comfort zone, from what we were getting to know for years and jump into the unknown. Quitting a well paid, stable job, moving again to a new country, starting from the scratch, not really having a proper plan of action, it all can be pretty overwhelming. I do think we are the ones creating limits by not believing in ourselves. I think this was the most challenging part to find confidence and believe that if I invest in my art all the energy, knowledge, passion and dedication that I did put into my corporate job, I can achieve a lot.
Ewa Matyja, Morning waves, 150x180cm, mixed media on canvas, 2020
Ewa Matyja, Morning waves, 150x180cm, mixed media on canvas, 2020
I am following you on Instagram for some time and I have noticed that you are travelling a lot between countries and continents. What challenges this brings, from the artist perspective?
I’ve been travelling my whole life. I lived in the USA, Germany and many years in Ireland, but it is art that gave me the possibility to travel around the world and live in places that I never even imagined that I would ever be able to visit. So for me it’s not to focus on challenges, I am too grateful for the life I’m living in the last 4 years. If I do have to point one thing out, it would be the  fact that in some countries it can be hard to find certain art supplies, but I don’t see it as a challenge because it taught me to find and experiment with new local  products, which gives me a massive opportunity to learn every day.
I now live in Berlin and I have read that you also lived in this city for a while. What did you find interesting about Berlin from the artist perspective?
Berlin is one of the most amazing cities in the world. Its art scene is  filled with art galleries, artists, art curators, and a huge amount of art events happening every day that gives a massive opportunity to experience and connect.
Have you made any artistic discovery in a Bali, where you currently live?
Bali is a very special place full of incredibly talented local artists. It’s a place where people are open, friendly. They want to share their knowledge with you. There are many new traditional balenese skills I learnt so far, and many more to come. On the top of it Bali is a place where you meet people from all over the world with a similar mindset, which is amazing. It motivates you to expand, but still focusing on a healthy balance in your life.
Ewa Matyja, Laudest mind, 120x120cm, mixed media on canvas, 2020
Ewa Matyja, Laudest mind, 120x120cm, mixed media on canvas, 2020
In one of the interviews, you have said that: “To me as an art lover, I want a piece of art to affect my mood, beliefs or attitude toward life, and to me, as an artist, I want the viewers to be touched by my paintings in the same way”. If you had to choose one painting that stuck with you permanently, what would it be?
It’s impossible to name just one of my paintings. I have a love hate relationship with anything that I create and it very depends on the current situation, mood, emotions that are going through my head. 
You are a self-taught artist, and you started to paint full time not so many years ago, yet you have plenty of achievements. What is your most vivid memory of this whole time?
Definitely the most incredible experience was The Other Art Fair in NYC in 2019. It was my very first time showing my work not only at a very professional art fair but also the first time showing in NYC. To my surprise it was a very successful one and definitely opened many doors for me.
I must say that starting a new painting is a very emotional experience for me: ranging from fear to excitement. How does it look for you?
When I start to work on the new series I have to feel the right moment. I do not plan my serieses, I let my emotions flow and paint for me. After the new series is completed I feel empty. Naturally I know it’s time for new experiences until I will feel the full excitement of getting out my thoughts and emotions on canvas.
How do you know that panting is finished and you shouldn’t work more on it?
It simply speaks to me. I paint intuitively and when it just feels right it’s the moment to stop.
Ewa Matyja, Elements of action,180x150cm, mixed media on canvas, 2020
Ewa Matyja, Elements of action,180x150cm, mixed media on canvas, 2020
As you are a full-time artist, how do you battle creative block or time when you do not feel like painting at all?
I usually have those moments when I finish working on a full series of new works. It feels that I got all the emotions out of me and threw them on canvas. Then I need some time to contemplate. I know if I would have gone back straight to the studio, anything I’d create would be disaster. So I use this time to switch off, find new inspiration, new experiences and a lot of back office work that always need to be done.
What is the last thing then, that got you inspired?
My inspiration comes from the surroundings I am living at the moment. If you look back at my previous series which were created in so many different countries they all have a different feel. I’m obsessed with architecture and design. Recently one of my biggest inspirations is nature - morning sunrise, walks on the beach, the textures that are created by the waves, together with the sunlights it’s not only incredible, but every day totally different.
From your perspective - theory vs practice, what is more important?
I didn’t go to art school and all the different techniques I use I learnt myself by experimenting, testing and discovering new ways of expressing my vision. So from my experience you can achieve a lot by practising, but me, personally, I’d love to know more about art, and I’m always trying to learn as much as i can.
Can you give some advice to any self-taught artist?
Believe in yourself. Stay honest to yourself. Create, learn, make mistakes. Share your work. Be bold. Dream big. 
What is your favourite color?
I tend to limit myself when it comes to use of the colors. It comes naturally. I will never give up on white and black. The amount of shade you can achieve with just these two colors is unlimited. 

Thank you for reading my newsletter! In case you have any feedback, questions or you are an artist willing to show up in How They See, you can connect with me on Instagram or just hit a reply back button in case you are a subscriber reading this text as an e-mail.

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