“I use the medium of photography freely and instinctively, at times beyond its conventional role, form and expectations constantly experimenting, dscovering new meanings. Attempting to move imaginations. From sharp, colourful geometric Shots to soft and calming landscapes. From intensely minimalist to Intensely complex. Looking for beauty and poetry in the mundane. Hunting for treasures”
Born in Poland in 1981, has been living and working in London since 2006. Obtained his photographic diploma at RACC in Richmond upon Thames in 2011, however, he is mainly a self-taught photographer, continuously experimenting and discovering new ways of expression. He is attracted to non-obviousness, light and shadow play, movement, reflection, geometry and extreme minimalism. Member of Free Painters and Sculptors collective (founded in 1952 in London), Association of Polish Art Photographers (ZPAF, founded in 1947 in Warsaw) and Association of Polish Artists in Great Britain (APA UK, founded in 1950s in London).
Has exhibited in many galleries and art fairs in London, Kent, Brighton, Brussels, Barcelona, New York, South Korea, France and Poland (including two solo shows) where he has achieved recognition and significant sales. Marek’s photographs can be found in private collections in the UK, Europe and USA. His work has been featured and bought by some of the world’s leading architects and interior designers, including Candy & Candy and a high profile commission for Qatari Headquarters in London’s Mayfair. Awarded with prizes and distinctions in competitions organised by Royal Society of Chartered Surveyors (Infrastructure Photographer Of The Year), Construction Industry Council, Compas Oxford University and American Society of Civil Engineers.
Represented by several art galleries including T5 Gallery.
LUXURY SPLASH OF ART: You create great photographs that many people display on their walls at home. What is the most important thing during a session? How do you bring and show emotions in your work?
Marek Emczek Olszewski: The most important thing during my photo shoots is a simple rule: being in the right place at the right time. The vast majority of my photographs are taken during my travels. Discovering new places and trying to find my compositions in new environments is a crucial part of my process. It also involves a decent dose of spontaneity.
Showing emotions in my work is very important to me. It’s been a long journey to get to a point when I could confidently say that emotions are there, that I can feel them when looking at my work. I had to learn to express what I feel with the medium of photography, and it wasn’t necessarily the easiest of the challenges. But when you are in harmony with your internal voice, then the language of feelings and intuition is naturally being projected into your creations. It’s a constant work in progress.
LSA: Your photographs are valued for their creativity. Where do you get your inspiration from? How do you prepare for a session?
MEO: The inspiration comes from a variety of sources, but mainly my imagination, triggered by emotions I feel when listening to music, watching films, reading or even dreaming. For example, minimal soundscapes by William Basinski or Richard Chartier draw delicate and elusive landscapes in my head. These feelings stay with me for a long time and, consciously or subconsciously, inspire my creative projects.
My preparations for photo sessions are near to none. It simply involves packing my quite standard equipment, and then spontaneously choosing right places and moments to capture. I just have to make sure my batteries are sufficiently charged, and my head is ready for creative actions.
LSA: How did your professional adventure within photography begin? Who did you want to be when you were a child? If you know you have a talent for what you are doing, are you able to predict if you’ll be successful?
MEO: A road to my professional photographic career was twisty, bumpy and not at all transparent. The first symptoms of my passion appeared in my early teenage years, but shortly afterwards my life has been taken over by certain struggles and changes. Photography came back to me in the middle of my twenties, but as a hobby – I did not think at that point that it could become anything significant. I was taking photographs for my own pleasure, but in time my work started to gain more and more interest. It motivated me to organise my first solo exhibition in 2011. This exhibition was reviewed by one of London’s lifestyle magazines. Based on that article I was invited to my first professional group exhibition held in The Royal College of Arts. And since then it started rolling – more and more exhibitions, press exposure, big art fairs, sales, commissions. And slowly, step by step, I became a professional artist. The line between an amateur and a professional is thin and very subjective.
I was one of these children who did not know who they want to become. My interests were changing very quickly. I could not concentrate on one subject for too long. In my late teenage years, I was not sure what field of studies to choose, so I changed it several times – I studied Geodesy, Protection of Environment, Film and TV production… But somehow I always knew that it’ll come to me at some point. And it happened. Maybe a bit later than expected, but happily.
One cannot be sure of anything in life, it is so unpredictable. That includes potential future career projections, based on freshly discovered talent. What is certain to me: it’s worth trying, being consistent, patient, and to believe in it. But as we know, there never is a guarantee. Especially in such a transitory field as art.
It is difficult to push forward if you cannot see immediate results. However, if may be worth it.
LSA: Do you think talent is genetic determination, something that grows with age, needs to be discovered, developed or a natural talent?
MEO: Firstly, talent needs to be discovered, then nursed and explored. Also, tested in difficult times, sometimes challenged and pushed out of the comfort zone. The nature of talent is mysterious, but I believe it’s a magical mixture of all the aspects you mentioned.
LSA: You have travelled a lot, what have you gained from that experience? Do show it in your work? Why do you love travelling?
MEO: Traveling is my petrol. Discovering new places, cultures, cuisines, nature, and obviously, people is an essence that keeps me excited and adds colour to my life. It gives me a fresh perspective in looking at things. Makes me feel that we, human species, are all the same, despite apparent visual differences between us. We are all part of one history, Earth history. Being open, experiencing different perspectives, learning local histories, discovering wonders of nature and architecture is an invaluable help in understanding the world, that is still full of unknown wonders. My work mirrors my feelings, thoughts, experiences and values, so I’m sure travelling is putting a significant stamp on it. And on a more obvious note: my work relies on the beauty of nature, captured in many different places on the planet. So the impact travelling has on my creativity is the most significant.
LSA: Is photography passion or just work? Would you consider yourself a Photographer, Artist, both or something else?
MEO: Photography is a passion that became an important part of my work. I try hard not to lose the right balance. The creative process itself must always remain a passion for me, involving the whole of my spirit. If that ever changes, I’d consider changing my profession. Exhibitions, art fairs, press, social media – although still very much enjoyable, is a part of the story that I fully see as work. At this point in my career, I consider myself as an artist, using a medium of photography as a tool of expression.
LSA: Your origin is Poland but you’re based in London. Why have you chosen London instead of somewhere else?
MEO: I’ve never planned for London to be my place on Earth. When I arrived here, my plan was to stay for one year, to polish my English, to meet new people, to gain new experience.
But in a meantime, I got amazed by London’s versatility, awesome, ambitious people, an abundance of their stories, multicultural nature of the city, easy access to art, music, theatres. It felt just right and inspiring. Also, I’ve met my partner, who eventually became my husband two years ago. It all made my decision to stay very easy.
LSA: What is the current buyer guides for purchasing your photographs?
MEO: My photographs are available to purchase in exhibitions, art fairs, on online platforms, or by direct contact with me. All details can be found on my social media (emczek) and my website (www.emczek.com).
LSA: During a pandemic, many museums and art galleries suggested visiting online. What do you think about such an initiative?
MEO: People need constant contact with art, so online exhibitions are a good alternative to visiting museums and galleries in person when no other options are available. It works well as a temporary measure. But, obviously, nothing can compare to seeing and experiencing art ‘face to face’.
So let’s hope it’s not a permanent thing, and we will be soon able to freely visit exhibitions, as in pre-pandemic times.
LSA: What suggestions would you give a new photographer who’s just starting?
MEO: Listen to your internal voice. Involve your heart. Experiment. Be brave. Be open. Be patient.
LSA: Do you have any plans in the near future?
MEO: I’ve got few art fairs planned and applied for, including London, New York and Toronto.
Unfortunately, we do not know at this stage if they will take place, due to possible restrictions related to the pandemic.
In September I’m participating in Quarantine Art Exhibition that takes place in Athens, and ‘Identity’ exhibition in London. Plus I work on a few more art/business projects in France and the UK.
Also, I’ve recently been experimenting with mixed media. My plan is to connect photography with paint, gold leaf, acrylic mediums and resin. First attempts have already happened, and it looks promising and exciting.
Interview by Kamila Krzyzaniak