Artist in Focus - Paul Chojnowski
Throughout Paul Chojnowski’s career a distinguishing characteristic has been the use of non-traditional media and tools in his art making. His current work, images burned into paper and wood evolved as a result of his conscious effort to embrace art historical traditions while rejecting the traditional processes.
In 1997 Paul returned to the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts where he continues to reside and work. September 1999 saw his first solo exhibition in New York where he introduced work from his ongoing series of Nocturnes - night time cityscapes inspired by his longstanding interest in the work of James McNeill Whistler. Since then, his fire drawings have been shown in group and solo exhibitions in art centres, museums, galleries and art fairs in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Dallas and Miami.
What do you want people to think or feel when they see your work?
I hope that a viewer is engaged with the physical aspects of the substrate- grain of the wood or the singed edge of the paper. I am most gratified when they offer their own interpretation of a work - to project their own story into the piece.
What are the main themes behind your work?
Thematically, my work has shifted over the years from creating a sense of place in nocturnal urban environments; to purely narrative concerns - figurative storytelling; and then a return to the sense of space in the natural environment. Throughout I endeavor to create a tangible sense of light and space.
What is your creative process - how to you begin a new piece of work?
My starting point has varied greatly over the years. I do take scores of reference photos and do charcoal studies. With the landscapes I will often make a sketch in charcoal pencil on the wood panel before I begin to burn and singe the surface.
How did you learn your craft?
My college years were spent in art studio courses and the study of art history and literature. Upon graduation I had the good fortune to learn the business side of art through a partnership in an art gallery.
What 3 things inspire you?
I spend much of my free time away from my studio outdoors cycling, hiking and backcountry split boarding. Music is a constant in my studio: chamber and symphonic as well as jazz and the popular music of my formative years. Independent film has also been a long standing inspiration.