What are the major themes you pursue in your work?

Minimalism, and playing with colour and texture. I abandon figurativism for abstraction, which, through the use of minimalistic means of expression, better conveys moods and emotions. In the creative process anxiety is my constant companion. However, the monotony of a uniform style sometimes bores me, that’s why I sometimes resort to figurativism or study different techniques.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?

A cup for coffee should be plainly distinguishable from a cup of dirty water from brushes.

How did you first get interested in your medium, and what draws you to it specifically?

For many years I was particularly committed to drawing with pencil and fineliner. Then, already as a graphic designer and photographer, I discovered colours. The discovery rendered the black and white world much deficient. I decided that I wanted to try acrylics, then acrylics combined with pastels, then with charcoal, and recently I have taken interest in oil painting. Acrylics remain most impressive though, given the amounts of available media, the drying time, and the possibility of using non-standard tools for applying paint to the canvas. The tools I use can be found in the inventory of DIY stores: sponges, packs, rags, pallet knifes.

If you couldn’t be an artist, what would you be?

A carefree, eccentric millionaire with a hippie soul, or the owner of a bar on a Mexican beach.

If you could have one piece of art in your life, what would it be?

I don’t think I could keep looking at a single piece of art, no matter how good it would be. Just as I couldn’t use only one colour, over and over watch one movie, or listen to just one song.

Music or silence?

Definitely music! Something to maintain the existing mood, usually different from what I listen to every day. Fever Ray, Agnes Obel, the soundtrack from “Vikings” – heavy and depressive. Sometimes I listen to the albums over and over again, sometimes a dozen times.

Can you walk us through your process? Do you begin with a sketch, or do you just jump in? How long do you spend on one work? How do you know when it is finished?

Honestly, I don’t like monotony. I don’t follow protocols. I paint only at nights, for a couple of hours. It is my mood that initiates the creative process. I may start working on the painting impetuously. I then play with colours and texture and grow interested in where this will lead. At times I start from a spontaneously made sketch on a small piece of paper, then transfer it to a large format. I often paint an almost finished work over, and add new layers, which alone may take several days or even weeks. The painting is complete when I tire with making changes and technical measures seem to be exhausted. This sense of exhaustion breaks me free from the infinite loop of improving the work.

Who are some of your favorite artists?

Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, Mark Rothko, Mark Bradford … and who doesn’t like Banksy today?

What are some of your favorite experiences as an artist?

I only like the very process of creation. My dissatisfaction grows the minute I put the brushes aside and accept the work to be finished. The very next day it begins to revolt me. Couple days pass and I start getting used to it. Paradoxically for me, being an artist brings more negative than positive emotions. Sometimes, I obsessively deliberate the work, hesitating whether or not to take it a step further, or leave it be as is. Emotions are the main creative mechanism for me, and the most unhealthy and poisonous of those seem to work best for me. Spontaneous selection of dark colours brings me on the verge of depression, which persists at the time of painting. It is a relief to finally present it to someone. The fact that paintings outlive their authors is probably the most motivating thing. In fact, people spend much more time with them than myself…


Lukasz Olek (born in 1982, Warsaw). Applied graphic designer, illustrator, and creative director with several advertising agencies for over 15 years. He has now associated his professional life with the English agency MiltonBrown, where as Art Director and Executive Producer he coordinates film and video productions. After years of drawing with pencil and ink, he has now discovered the colours of acrylic paints.

He creates mainly dark, large-format abstractions and turpist portraits. Fascinated by the works of Francis Bacon, Marek Rothko and Lucian Freud. In his works he often focuses on the study of texture and colour by resorting to non-obvious materials and media.