Wypych’s Imaginative Philosophy
Anna Wypych is a figure painter based in Gdynia, Poland, who relies on traditional oil painting methods to achieve a smooth yet painterly realism that also embraces hyperrealistic, surrealist, and expressionist elements. Through her work, Wypych examines life and the universal human condition, basing compositions on her thoughts, emotions, and experiences as well as concepts such as beauty, honesty, inner strength, and justice
While she doesn’t want to influence the viewer’s personal perception of her work, she feels a need to translate her personal thoughts into words in order to clarify the deeper meaning behind each piece. Even when some belong within a series, each painting is a separate project with a specific subject which she often accompanies with texts and sometimes poetry. She states, “I take inspiration from what I see around me, but my personal thoughts are always the starting point.”
Currently she’s working on a series about freedom, simply called Boson. The word pertains to the Higgs Boson, a particle in the Standard Model of physics that is thought to be responsible for all physical forces. From an artist’s point of view, Wypych relates the Boson particle to the potential within every human being and the interactions between them — the creative energy of all the possibilities within and around us. She emphasizes the interconnection and interrelatedness between ourselves and the world around us while trying to let go of individualistic notions of herself, seeking to feel connected to both animate and inanimate matter.
Regarding the Boson series, she says, “Molecules each have their own weight, and are what they are, the point is the variety of molecules. For me Boson is something what makes people different from each other, makes people who they are — that is freedom. Boson is freedom.” This series deals with her search to understand what freedom means, how it shapes us, and the ways in which freedom affects us.
Wypych’s powerful painting, entitled Black and White Play, represents making difficult decisions in life — it is about having to choose between two bad options. The model, smearing herself with paint, looks defiantly at the viewer, rebelling against the sociocultural notion of the way many of us — especially women — have been trained to be submissive and dependent. As in: good girls are clean and pure, their bodies are under control, and usually not their own. In this context, getting dirty is an expression of liberation.
Wypych is a thoughtful person, an empathic thinker who takes the state of the world seriously — and as happens to most empaths, frequently gets chastised for being too serious and too sensitive when dealing with problems not exclusively her own. In an attempt to shake off the heavy burden of worrying about humanity, Wypych hid humorous elements within this painting; there’s a monster on the skin, a cat’s eyes and ears, a cartoon bear, a snail without a shell, a praying mantis who also looks like the letter F, a small heart, a weird pelican, and big cow with lean legs. See whether you can spot them.
Wypych’s captivating painting, Too Sweet to be Serious, is about self-acceptance. It examines the juxtaposing need of fitting in versus wanting to be unusual or special. The outspoken color palette illustrates Wypych’s contentious love-hate relationship with the color pink and captures the stereotypical aspects of femininity, while the provocative subject matter lures the viewer into a closer look leading to a spiral of visual discoveries.
Winking at surrealism, multiple arm gestures hold a dough cutter that symbolizes the complexities of being female in a world of predominantly male-formulated expectations. While the blade is sharp, the overall impression is one of sweetness. Within the sugary pink setting, the seminude wears a necklace of marshmallows — which Wypych describes as “enemy bones” — indicating the woman knows herself well enough to know she doesn’t need to prove herself. She doesn’t need to look like a warrior to be one. Metallic, sequin, and satin ribbons undulate across the body concealing trickles of blood. It seems to caution that self-acceptance may be a painful process but ultimately less destructive than trying to be someone we are not.
Double Freedom was inspired by the images of pinup girls of the 1940s and 1950s, the iconographic imagery showing young, naïve, pretty girls in an ambiguously suggestive and stereotypical way. Wypych’s striking model, however, is real; she is a sophisticated woman of a certain age lacking naiveté, with a strong sense of her own strengths and sexuality. The warm light in this painting enhances the exquisitely painted skin, jewelry, and fabrics, juxtaposing against the cool, subdued background showing enigmatic graphic symbols.
For Wypych, Double Freedom is about the freedom of choosing a mate and the varying and fluctuating degrees of freedom felt and experienced within long-term relationships. She asks, “Can you be free when someone’s happiness depends on you? Or when your happiness depends on someone being there?”
To me, Double Freedom also seems to relate to the absurd and annoying censorship occurring on social media where figurative artwork has been removed due to the exposure of female nipples. Even though her work has undergone censorship on Facebook, Wypych denies this painting is a form of protest, yet to me the embroidered patches stitched onto the bare skin seem like a painful reminder to cover up certain areas of the female body to avoid censorial reprimands and eviction.
Wypych’s tranquil painting entitled Cold Shower was inspired by those pernicious thoughts that spoil happiness which surely happen to all of us. Picture this: You’re enjoying a perfectly content day when suddenly someone’s random toxic remark or a haphazard distasteful feeling invades your thoughts and instantly ruins your pleasant mood. Those moments feel like an ice-cold shower that leave you disoriented and dejected. Even when you try to shake off those negative feelings, they seem trapped inside your mind — just like the painting’s leaves entangled in the auburn hair. Wypych perfectly captures that state of mind in the model’s eyes and accompanies this piece with a poem.
a moment ago, it was happiness
a minute ago, everything was ok
a second ago, it was fun
It was quick, short thought
soon will pass
I will keep it away easily
Do not let be poisoned by sadness
specially not yours
cultivate your precious joy
Fight toxic thoughts
feel the sun on your skin
stop worry, you are in paradise, these all are little nonsenses
you are free
Wypych’s flamboyant painting Red explores the complexities of balancing motherhood with a career in the arts. Not many female artists dare admit this is a tough balancing act — after all, most outsiders will see any aired grievances as weakness of the artist, the mother, the woman. Obviously, it’s an issue that affects many female artists; the fear of not finding the time to paint, the fear of draining creativity in the humdrum of caregiving, the fear of not being able to fulfill obligations and responsibilities.
Despite cautions voiced during art academy — the advice was to pick either motherhood or the arts — Wypych’s decision to have an art career and a child worked out well for her. Like many female artists Wypych chose both, determined to show there can be a balance found despite the struggle. She simply states, “Motherhood brings joy, which feeds creative energy.”
There are, of course, paradoxes which are obvious in the color choices in this painting where strong blues and greens contrast against the dominant red. Yet, there’s a wonderful balance in this surprisingly refreshing RGB color palette. The quirky background shows cartoons of great apes; depictions of placid motherhood of our fellow primates counterbalance the multifaceted figure who symbolizes the juggling of activities. Wypych explains, “When you think you know where your boundaries are — the limits of endurance, the limits of love, the limits of the body, the boundaries of self-confidence — the truth is that you know nothing. So, use this knowledge in a positive way and do ‘impossible’ things, because you do not know your limits until you push them.”
Wypych’s painting, entitled Blue, shows a striking young woman in a rather intriguing setting. The predominantly cool color palette offsets the warm skin tones and red pomegranate beautifully. The color blue, besides being an expensive and hard-to-obtain color historically, has many different cultural meanings — for some it is the color of the gods, for others the color of mourning or of purity. Intrigued by the color, Wypych realized that there are almost no naturally occurring bright blue foods and painted the apple blue, symbolizing contemporary western society’s ubiquitous attitude of entitlement — we want it all and want it right away, without working for it or knowing how to handle the inevitable disappointments.
During our interview I asked Wypych to expand on the cartoonish background, which she described as “inspired by children’s stories” but then seemed hesitant to further elaborate upon, explaining she prefers to avoid tainting the viewer’s personal interpretation. Wypych seems conflicted between the paradox of being an artist wanting to bare her soul, and a strong need to keep her private life protected from intrusion. She says, “I struggle between opening up and keeping my privacy, but too much privacy isn’t good either. I’m keen on sharing my point of view but often my private life is deeply interwoven.”
To Wypych it’s important her paintings herald a positive message. She adds, “Even when my inspirations arise from negative things I always want to depict them in an optimistic and affirmative way. My inspirations are true, like life, so they are sometimes positive, sometimes negative, sometimes both. But I hope the result is always positive.” Whatever the message may be that the viewer receives, Wypych’s paintings are a joy to the eye and I eagerly await to see her future work.
Written by Lorena Kloosterboer, realist artist & author © Antwerp, Belgium.
Originally published in PoetsArtists Magazine, November 2017.