Szymon Kula, The Stylobate, 2017, © Photo: Paul Gorman
Szymon Kula, The Stylobate, 2017, © Photo: Paul Gorman

“I never run out of ideas, and it doesn’t take much for me to find an inspiration.”


Szymon Kula




Szymon Kula
Szymon Kula

Who are you? What do you do?

I like to refer to myself as a painter even though I do many different things both in my art practice as well as life. Painting is something that has always been with me so I feel like it affects all the other aspects of my identity and different activities of mine.

Where are you from?

I was born in Katowice – a big industrial city in southern Poland, but I more so identify myself with the tiny village in Beskidy Mountains where I spent half of my childhood and I think of it as of my origin.

Your style in 3 words?

Pattern, scale, space.

© Szymon Kula, Confrontation, 2017
© Szymon Kula, Confrontation, 2017

Your weakness? Your strength?

I’m very impatient so I struggle with eclecticism in my work as I change my mind about what I’m working at midway through and alter my initial conceptions too often. In terms of strengths I would say I never run out of ideas, and it doesn’t take much for me to find an inspiration.

What makes you different?

It’s a very tricky question and I think almost impossible to answer as what makes you different is usually most noticeable for everyone except yourself.

When did you decide to become an artist?

I have always wanted to be an artist but it wasn’t until two, maybe three years ago that it struck me I have really become one and I made a conscious decision it’s something I want to do for years.

Szymon Kula, The Stylobate, 2017, © Photo: Paul Gorman
Szymon Kula, The Stylobate, 2017, © Photo: Paul Gorman

What do you find most fascinating about your work?

I enjoy not having full control over what’s happening on the canvas or any other surface I’m working on so I’m looking for different ways of involving chance in the process. Recently I was working a lot with stencils, covering random parts of the painting while working on the others so that the final combination of marks and gestures is unpredictable and surprising.

A few words about your favourite creation?

The moment when I’m happy with my own work usually lasts only until I get a new idea which in my mind seems better but there are a few pieces that I still like despite the passing time. Somehow I have a sentiment to my degree show series from Glasgow School of Art “The Stylobate” mostly because it carries a lot of memories and is very strongly linked with the place and the city itself.

Someone else’s work that inspired or inspires you…

I follow a lot of contemporary artists and their practices which is now very easy thanks to social media and internet, but if I were to choose an artist who I was looking at the most recently it would be more of an old school example – Maria Jarema a polish avant gard painter from the post war period.

© Szymon Kula, Fixed Routine, 2017
© Szymon Kula, Fixed Routine, 2017

A new project coming up or an idea you want to work on?

I’ve become very interested in working in the public space lately. In the past I had quite a sceptical approach to so called street art but my perspective have changed since I had a chance to work on a series of murals as part of my recent residency project. I would like to work on some more “outdoor” painting projects soon.

Finish the sentence „More important than my career is…“

environment, nature, people.

I would never want my career to take over or negatively affect the atmosphere, landscape or the people who surround me as in this way it would diminish its own subject matter.

© Szymon Kula, Rhizome, 2017
© Szymon Kula, Rhizome, 2017

2019: Where are we going?

I set myself a goal of being more focused and sticking to one bigger project this year which will hopefully be summarised with an exhibition here in Lyon where I’ve just moved. Planning a couple of trips in the meantime not to get too settled: a show in Lancaster this spring, a residency in Estonia in May and Prague Quadriennale at the beginning of the summer.

When the going gets tough…

Cycling is always the best remedy for me, lots of new routes to explore round here.

Your city’s favourite spots?

Outdoor swimming pool on the Rhône river, my DIY studio space in the attic with a view of the whole Croix – Rousse (and Mount Blanc with good weather), the island on the lake in the Parc de Tete D’ore with an access through an underwater tunnel.

Szymon Kula, Green Border, 2018, © Photo: Anna Pleslová
Szymon Kula, Green Border, 2018, © Photo: Anna Pleslová

Do you have a vision?

Right now I’m focusing on the immediate future, I’m trying not to let my visions go further then a month ahead in order to get things done well and to be absorbed in the process. Currently my short-term vision relates mostly to organising myself a studio space (I just got a new sewing machine and my head is full of visions for how to use it).

What would you do if you could change the World?

I find it challenging enough to try and change myself and my closest surroundings every day, and I believe if everyone would focus on that the world would change quite significantly. I like the diversity and the fact that the world can be a very different place for different people.

Tell us about your future plans…

As I was travelling quite a lot the last few years, now I feel like settling a bit especially since I found a place for it. As much as I love nomadic lifestyle I’ve been dreaming of a base where I can gather and see all my works at once. It takes a completely different mindset to make such a decision and it comes with a lot of challenges and stimulations. I’m learning the language and trying to make connections with the local community which obviously takes time.

Last but not least: what is your favourite Song?

The complete list would be really long but at the moment the favourites are Alva Noto’s Uni Blue, Dean Blunt The Narcissist and Fever Ray’s Keep the streets empty for me.

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