WORDS Annie Stoppelbein
“He compares his subjects to actors on a stage, each one fleshing out the range of sensitivities and feelings that make us all alive.”
Polish artist Adam Wator finds the human body, as a subject, inexhaustible, and the prolific painter’s works are gaining popularity among collectors worldwide. They were discovered in 2012 by one Joanna Cabaj on a trip from the United States to her homeland, Poland. She was enamored with Wator’s work and resolved to acquire as much as she could to present to the American art world. It can now be viewed at galleries across the United States, including Bennett Galleries in Nashville.
Wator’s distinctive style of painting focuses on the figure, most often female. Though only the silhouette is visible, the figures push emotion using their body language. Wator deliberately excludes the face, to emphasize the hands as the most demonstrative element of the composition. The body’s shape is filled with an array of energetic colors and lines. Typically the background is comprised of muted blocks of color, to contrast the drama of the form. This is the recipe Wator has been developing for years.
The artist was born in 1970 in the small town of Mys ́lenice, near Krakow. He recollects painting, as a child, a snowy winter landscape with toothpaste, before receiving his first set of oils in elementary school. He grew increasingly committed to painting a few years before he attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow. He graduated in 1997 and began the search for his signature style. Wator recalls the watershed moment of his career when he ditched the oils for acrylics. They enabled him to make quick changes and even pour paint onto the canvas. This medium became the vehicle he needed to present his characters to his liking.
“He deliberately excludes the face, to emphasize the hands as the most demonstrative element of the composition.”
Wator is fascinated by the female figure, and he has painted it fervently. As a male artist he is attempting to understand the intricacies of femininity. He works from live models, but maintains their anonymity by omitting the face. This allows him to capture the essence of a general person, instead of a specific personality. Using the unlimited gestural combinations of the body, hands, and feet, Wator presents a stronger message than he could with facial expressions.
In a series entitled Awakening, Wator depicts figures that appear fatigued and resigned. Today, two years after their creation, the artist recognizes the contradiction between the title of each work and the subject’s apparent mental state. He postulates that this inconsistency was formed by his subconscious mind during a difficult time in his life. It was a period when he grappled with his creativity. Retrospectively the Awakening series marks a moment of trial followed by growth in his artistic vocation.
While Wator’s collective body of work follows the trajectory of his career, it also examines the many facets of the human condition. He compares his subjects to actors on a stage, each one fleshing out the range of sensitivities and feelings that make us all alive. No human is immune to suffering or pleasure. Wator predicts that for the rest of time the arts will continue to depict the spectrum of emotions. As throughout history, we will always be attracted to the human form because it relates directly to the viewer’s own experience.
When he is painting, Wator takes no consideration of reality and what it looks like, but faithfully follows what is happening in his imagination. “Reality,” he says, “is not only the nature that surrounds us, because more and more often we live outside of it. The reality that surrounds us is also the people. It is not difficult to see the beauty of the mountains; it is self-imposed. You should see beauty in a person.” Unanchored in reality and unidentifiable, the figures in Wator’s work are captivating objects of enduring beauty.
See Adam Wator’s work at Bennett Galleries, www.bennettgalleriesnashville.com.