Andrzej Szczygiel is a D.C. based artist who sketches, paints, and draws a multitude of both intoxicating and frightening imagery using various tools and instruments. Originally from Poland, his parents were skilled painters and sketch artists. Sadly under communism, the life of an artist was not a path they could choose. With unending support, they instead encouraged their son to embrace his talents and possibilities.
As an individual, Andrzej is as captivating as his work. He’s loud and passionate, charming and thoughtful. His energy is infectious and when speaking with him, I realized by the end of the conversation I was screaming too, with a giant grin on my face, much like him. His work takes you for the same ride.
I told the artist his sketches looked like a beautiful gorgeous dream and a horrid nightmare were sitting down for a romantic candlelit dinner. He had this to say, “Ha ha, It’s pretty accurate. The funny part is that the nightmare element is not “nightmarish” for me. I’ve heard opinions that my drawings are scary or that they suggest some kind of dark thoughts but I do not find those feelings in me when I draw. At least that is what I think.
“I was always interested in paintings from late medieval ages and early Renaissance (Bosch, the Brueghels, Grunewald), when everything was a little bit gloomy and dark in other people’s eyes but I actually find those paintings…very uplifting. The only thing that I can say is that I do not “force” my works to have any definite mood. All I care about is trying to get close to whatever image I have in my thoughts.”
Much like his emotional impulsiveness, Andrzje works intermittently with whatever instrument seems to be available to him in the moment. “Some ideas stay in me long enough to be painted, some need to be sketched on a piece of paper or on the computer.” A good amount of Andrzej’s work is done on the computer using an analog, a tablet with a pen that moves as though one is drawing on a piece of paper. He finds his work that is composed on the computer to be some of the best because it’s in its most immediate emotional form. However, he prefers pencils, charcoal, ink, acrylics, and watercolor.
The subject matter is subjective. Andrzej’s work revolves around his environment indubitably, but he says his prime focus is his own interactions and how these interactions are interpreted. “They create images that pop out in front of me.” Having been engrossed in two entirely different cultures during his life, Andrzej finds the imagery gives his life explanation. “It calms me down, allows me to think about things that affect me in everyday life and organizes my thoughts.” The artist continues, “I don’t really know how to describe my work, that’s probably why I draw. It’s more or less direct transition of something that shows in my head and needs to go out. The closest thing I can relate it to is having a dream that you do not forget in the morning, plus the dream forces you to put it on paper or screen in some way.”