Joanna’s work is like a pebble thrown in the water: its splash reverberates in circles of emotion and thoughts that linger. How does she achieve this magic? There is an element of mystery, perhaps even to herself; it seems that when she makes art, she surrenders to her own creative powers; she creates art that invites us, the viewers, to enter a portal and get transported to her remarkable world.
Interview with Joanna Concejo
1.What was it like growing up in Poland?
Growing up in the Polish countryside was wonderful! Of course it was a bit difficult, hard and at times brutal, life in the countryside, but I think I couldn’t had have a better childhood. Being outdoors all the time, in contact with nature, animals, walking in fields and forests, gathering mushrooms, blueberries ... that's just what I’ve always adored!
My wonderful grandmother told me amazing stories, she was always singing, knitting, embroidering ...
2.When did you decide you wanted to draw?
I feel like I've always drawn. At first, of course, it was like all children. But when I was 14 or 15 I thought I wanted to do it seriously and decided to attend school to learn other techniques, meet people etc. ...
3.Do you keep a favorite drawing from when you were a child?
No, I don’t not keep anything from my childhood, the oldest drawing, or rather painting, that I still have now, it’s from when I was 14 years old. It is a painting a little "kitsch", a sunset at the seaside.
4. What kind of child were you?
I was a very obedient child, I loved school, I did not do stupid things, I did not cause problems to adults. I was very wise! And rather silent.
5. What inspires you?
Inspiration is not something I seek, it is more a state of availability in life, an openness to things that happen to me, to the encounters I have, to images, landscapes, to everything I can see, hear, touch ...
6.Where do you work? How is your work routine?
I work in a small studio. I go there in the morning, I make coffee and I draw. I drink a lot of coffee ... I'm all alone there. I do not listen to music, I do not need it. I like the silence. I take a lunch break around noon, then I go back to work. And it's like that until 5 pm ... I work only with daylight, I do not see very well with artificial light. So my days are longer in summer and shorter in winter. The weekend in general I do not work. I spend time with my family.
7.Your work is extremely poetic, it seems to me if your drawings are poems written in images. Do you read poetry? Can you share a poem with us?
Yes, I read poetry, but not much. I do not have any favorite poems. I read much more prose. I read a little bit of everything. But my favorite writer is Andrzej Stasiuk. I love all his books. I feel very close to what he writes. I also like Henry D. Thoreau. I like to read about his walks in nature, and these thoughts ...
8. You wrote a beautiful text published on Brightness Magazine, in which you describe the relationship your work has with paper and time; You mentioned the idea of continuity, could you explain this idea and give us an example of a particular work that shows it?
I have a great affection for paper that has already lived, that has grown old, which bears on it the traces of the passage of time, spots, fragments of the writings etc….I like to work with papers like that. I feel like I'm part of their story, continuing it. What I also like in drawing is the aspect of the passage of time in the process of drawing, because it takes time. For when I work on a drawing for several days, it happens alongside many things at the same time. I can think of a lot of things, I can interrupt to do the dishes, to clean the house, to look at the sky, trees, feed the family, receive good or bad news by telephone ... And all this influences and lives in drawing ... This slowness is necessary to me, I need to be attentive enough to both the drawing and all the things I do next.
9.What is the relationship between Red Riding Hood and the Wolf?
Oh, of course it's a love affair! An impossible love! Unique, and one that will change their lives. Unfortunately this story cannot finish well. For the Wolf and the forest share a single nature. He is Wolf and cannot change what he is. And Little Red Riding Hood and the village: she cannot change what she is, either. But I think that her encounter with the Wolf transforms her, makes her grow. The girl will never be the same again.
A few things brought them together, they live beautiful story of friendship, play, love, but they cannot stay together ...
10.The characters you draw are usually alone or they seem alone, even if they are in a group. There is an element of the unconscious that appears to be uninhabited your drawings. Something that's there and it's not there. A play between the visible and the non-visible. Tell us about that.
I do not know what more to say. I'm sorry. I think that if I could speak better, write, I would stop drawing and I would start writing books ... And to return to the things I draw, to the characters ... I am often surprised myself of what I can do. It is often very unconscious. I just know, that it must be like that. I do not need to explain to myself everything that appears under my hand. The problem begins when it is necessary to explain it to others ... When I draw, I let myself lead by the intelligence of my hand. I "think" through the gesture of the hand. And I try to stay attentive to my own work, watch it....I never know where the drawing will take me. So, yes, there is a lot of that, visible, invisible ... but I cannot explain it in words. That's why I draw.
11.How do you work with/ think about color?
I have no clear idea of color. It appears a little by surprise ...
As a child, when I lived with my grandparents in the country, I did not have colored pencils to draw. I had only one carpenter's pencil from my grandfather and a gray pencil. So in a very natural way, if I think of the drawing, I think of the gray graphite pencil. And that's how I do it. Color requires effort. And when I was little, the only colorful things were my grandmother's woolen threads, fabrics and threads to embroider ... I loved it all. My grandmother knitted many wool flowers ... and then, now, the color appears mostly in flowers, nature ...
But I have not yet fully understood the mystery of color ...
12.What is your favorite book / movie?
My favorite film is "Stalker" by Andrei Tarkovski, and the book ... I think it's "On the Road to Babadag" by Andrzej Stasiuk.
13.What is the girl of "Breakfast" thinking?
I do not know. She is just there, present, sitting at this "mountain" of her table. I like very much not formulating exact thoughts. I like the blur, the wandering of confused thought. The girl is there, waiting for her day ...
14.Why should we have art at home?
I do not know how to answer that kind of question. It depends on everyone, every person feels differently. As far as I'm concerned, I have it at my place and it's quite natural. I do not even ask myself the question "Why?"
15.What are your projects for the future?
Well, I have several book projects to do. I'm always drawing, thinking about telling things through pictures. But I do not know exactly. Maybe I would do something else, maybe I'd build a house ... We'll see ...