In Conversation: Beata May
In Beata May's works, she emphasizes the independence of women and the heroism of many women across the world. As a painter, she works with brush and paint to create art that escapes the present showing a deep fascination for art as an experience, a dialogue, a story to be heard and comprehended.
Insights of an Eco Artist Team
Art critic's opinion: Hiltscher Consulting Christina Hiltscher art advisor/ Austin
''The artist is doing so by merging the two universal languages which everyone without fail
can express emotions and connect with: art and sport. And she adds yet another dimension
to her works by depicting exclusively female athletes, mostly swimmers.
Her protagonists are skilfully painted in raw and honest detail. Their bodies, faces and
shapes are not romanticized and have a beauty not according to societal conventions. There
is a seriousness, sometimes masculinity, expressing the hard work, training to reach success
and progress as well as development.
Beata masterfully pushes the observer out of their comfort zone, immerses them into her
story of the multiple, strong, almost heroic fighters passing their gifts and talents like an
Olympic torch to each other.
Empowerment of women is a key topic for Beata. Drawing from her own experience, having
learned and evolved to stand strong and anchored: To know who you are and being the
inspiring and encouraging role model for her daughter but also other females around her, is
her true calling.
Her paintings deliver her genuineness, utmost sincerity, skill and trust in the female bond.
The series is holistically conceived, and Beata’s conscious choice of large-scale formats
drives home the importance, the “must take notice” of her message.
Each artwork, each woman is connected to the next, to each other by means of golden
accessories. The golden ball, the thread, the life-rings, and other elements form the bond,
the torch which creates the interconnectivity of all femineity, the struggles, the support and
influence we have on each other.
In contemporary art and culture, gold conveys countless different meanings, and typically
symbolises prosperity, fortune, and success. In Beata’s world it symbolises not the material
fortunes but the invaluable riches of true and honest connection, love, and support of each
other; of having an impact and making the world a better place for her daughter and all
Beata complements yet contrasts her structured, bright females and shaped motives with
flat and mostly darker backgrounds to give the stage to her powerful characters. Each
artwork is a masterpiece of depth, opaque brush technique and contrasting forms as well as
carefully composed colour choices.
The acrylic series exudes strength and is a bold expression of human spirit through art and
sport. One must wonder whether some artworks are actually self-portraits.
The art and artworks are one element but the artist, the person behind the vision and work
is the missing piece that makes it all complete. The Yin and yang, a dynamic balance of
opposing but complementary and interconnected forces. Beata as an artist and person will
leave a lasting impression. Her desire to draw manifested already as a child and has evolved over the years, culminating in this expressive and emotive series of artworks. She is hard-
working, loyal, and authentic. She knows what she wants, and this series shows clearly that
she will be a force in the artworld to be reckoned with.
Beata’s series touches deeply and has a profound impact on the viewer, especially when seen live".
Would you mind telling us a bit about your background and studies? How did your art career begin? And are you still pursuing the same goals?
I come from Poland. I currently live in Krakow. I grew up in a small village near Lublin, in a conservative family of teachers. Since I was a child, I have been interested in art, which I saw everywhere, also in primitive forms. I was looking for any way to contact her. Not succumbing to stereotypes and dogmas, I found enough courage to show my high school works to a wider audience. I took part in a national competition, which I won. It guaranteed me an index to higher art studies. In this way, I completed a three-year bachelor's degree at the Maria Curie-Skłodowska University at the Faculty of Painting in Kazimierz Dolny on the Vistula River, and a two-year master's degree in Krakow, a city called the Mecca of Artists. Painting is my passion. A form of my expression that has never been as strong as it is today. It took many years for me to solidify my inner self. Today, I am a conscious artist for whom sport turned out to be a carrier of artistic visions. In my life, I have been gifted with a beautiful talent, thanks to which I am able to discuss my perception of the world using a work of art. Art and sport have many levels of interaction. Mastery in art, just like in sport, is a work that can be achieved by a person with appropriate predispositions. It's fascinating. The goal is to popularize my fascination and draw the eyes of the world to many bothering aspects of life.
In your artistic statement, you mention that “Art is an individual document of spiritual changes, a record of a person’s personality.” Can you deconstruct this idea for us?
The whole concept of my art is the result of my personal experiences. I identify with strong and determined women. These are my heroines, whom I pay homage to in every painting. The consistency of vision, the magnetism of colors, uniform backgrounds and earthy figures are supposed to reach our identity in an innovative way. Women all over the world are very different - in terms of image and mentality, and at the same time the same ... I believe that they are all admirable, both for courage and humility.
You are both a painter and a writer. Where do you situate the written part of your practice?
Yes. I express my visions in two ways. The book became the home of my thoughts, and the pictures were their visual continuation. When asked what distinguishes me, I always answer: courage and heart.
No love, no drugs, just sex, little rock'n'roll. Consumer of life. This is my own book (a form of biography) in which I describe the successive stages of my artistic career. It will be available for sale next year. This is the story of a young girl who becomes a single mother, but after many years she finds the strength to change her life dramatically.
Most of your paintings represent exclusively female athletes, mostly swimmers, merging the universe of art and sports? Why do you dedicate your practice to this subject?
The answer is quite obvious. Sport is a social good. It expresses more than we think. It is a kind of fun and at the same time a form of combat. Rich in movement and intellectual imagination, it harmonizes with charm, beauty and culture. It's hard to accuse it of a lack of creativity. Each field of the sport has its own strictly defined rules, but it is not the rules that make the spectacle. People create them.
As fans, we only see the end result of the athlete's actions, not seeing the scale of difficulties, sacrifices and the burden of expectations, which are difficult to deal with alone. Often successes and vast experience are not a guarantee of our peace of mind.
The privilege of life that each of us has been given is a discipline commonly called, in my opinion, sport. Being flexible, adapting to changing circumstances brought by fate and facing new challenges is an integral part of this. This is what the heroines of my paintings face every day, creating their feminist argument. How honest and true. The heroism emanating from their faces and posture fascinates and intimidates the viewer. These are women whose self-awareness has reached a master's level.
The last series of artworks you created is a large format series, conceptualizing and challenging the role of women in society. What can you tell us about the different stages of creation and motivation behind it?
I have no doubt that we are evolving. Our society is changing and expectations are changing with it. The role of women is extremely important here. But we still have to fight for gender equality, economic justice, respect and security. However, despite the many barriers created and imagined by the history and role we have come to play, as well as stereotypes relating to the power of men, the world is beginning to open up to the fair sex. Women do not remain passive towards these changes, on the contrary. Facing adversity, they strive for development and self-realization. The woman became a titan of everyday life, everyday life completely different from the one from several years ago. She began to go beyond the usual patterns, she became active both in the family and professional fields. A modern woman is a self-confident individualist who remembers her independence. They are not afraid of going against the flow. She achieves internal cohesion, which gives her a sense of accomplishment in every field. She chooses for herself what is most valuable to her. She rekindles her passion for life. And the knowledge of one's own values testifies to the strength of character and wisdom that many men can envy.
By creating my series of works, I wanted to show the unprecedented strength that lies dormant in each of us. Intention is the most important thing for an artist. The accuracy of the message gives wings and allows you to feel like a man in the right place. Emotions are an integral part of my art for me. I experience it in a tangible way, creating I feel physical pain. My whole body (not only my mind) is involved in the creative process. The biggest motivation for me is ourselves.
What can you tell us about the creative process behind the acrylic painting Pending the result?
I have to admit that this is one of my favorite works. Pending the result was created at a very turning point in my life. There comes a time in everyone's life when we take risks and put everything on one card. Faithful to our ideas and beliefs, we await the result in suspense. It would be the same with me.
Looking back ten years, in my wildest dreams, I could not have imagined what is happening in my life today. How many barriers and obstacles I had to overcome along the way to achieve my desired goal. Being true to my passions made me feel like a winner. I stopped being delusional and started acting. Returning to painting was one of the best decisions in my life.
You collaborate with Your Art Maison Gallery and Consulting Hiltscher. How did these partnerships begin? What do they entail?
Both Joanna Polus from Your Art Maison Gallery (represents me in Europe) and Christina Hiltscher from Consulting Hiltscher (represents me in the USA) are two great personalities in the art world. I appreciate both ladies for their professionalism and innovative horizontal approach. They unquestionably and unanimously appreciated the qualities of my niche works. They focused on the fusion of colors and emotions that emanate from each work. I can say that they are ideal business partners.
I met Christine Hiltscher in one gallery in Zurich. She captivated me with her knowledge and commitment to artists, who thanks to her had a chance to appear in the local market. Then I thought: She could perfectly represent me too! From that meeting, our collaboration was inevitable (laughs).
I invited Joanna Polus to my studio in Krakow. I've heard a lot of good things about her, so I decided to take a chance. Managed to. After this visit, I received a text message: Mrs. Beata, I am very impressed with your works. It was a hit.
In this way, I have two fantastic, emanating positive energy women with me. Women who believe in me and my idea.
Describe your experience so far with the public. How much do you feel viewers relate to your art? And what feedback have you gotten so far from them?
hmmm. Quite a peculiar question. I often let this discourse take place behind my back. I leave the recipient in silence, alone with my works. This is an extremely comfortable reception situation. Usually, the creation of emotions is quite strong and this creates a sense of community. Common understanding does not allow to separate art from non-art because art is treated as a gradable feature.
Positive reception to one´s art is a source of pride for every artist. It's the same with me.
What is your experience with galleries and curators?
I don't have any negative experiences. It is understandable that I would like my art to attract the eyes of the world, but, as in the case of the profile of a given gallery, I feel that there are different criteria for its reception. I am invariably pleased with the fact that in most cases I was not dismissed with the proverbial receipt. During the exhibitions, I meet extremely interesting people who can sympathize with my works. It remains to be believed that their group will continue to grow.
Finally, any upcoming exhibitions or collaborations? Are there any new projects you'd like to share?
I am the precursor of the Strong Woman's Decalogue, it obliges. My timid dream is to collaborate with art dealers, institutions and foundations who will identify with my art. I will tirelessly promote my paintings, which through sport express in condensed form stories about human ambitions, desires, victories and defeats. All of this is the fabric of our destiny.
The year 2023 will certainly be a very intense year in terms of exhibitions. At the moment I have a group exhibition planned in London, and individual exhibitions in Warsaw (Poland) and St. Tropez (France). I also encourage you to familiarize yourself with my website, which is constantly being updated.
I have had a passion for art since I was a child. Parental praise for the prepared picture allowed me to build some self-confidence. The whiteness of the card effectively stimulated my imagination. I remember the days when I did not apart with crayons and paints. Painting allowed me to go beyond certain limits.
Arts like sports can move mountains, cross borders and cultures and create a place where people can come together, agree to disagree, break free from prejudice and norms.My latest artworks are a large format series, conceptualising and challenging the role of women in society.
My works emphasize the independence of women, their heroism and determination. Women all over the world are very different - visually and mentally, and at the same time the same ... I think that they are all admirable, both for the courage they show in various aspects of life, as well as for their humility. They know what they want and what they don't want. Of course, they succumb to weaknesses, but only to get up with redoubled strength. A woman is aware of herself and the world around her. It's exciting to be one of them. We are heroes - no matter how feminist my words are. Each one with a baggage of life experiences. Our strength is feminine delicacy, sensitivity and empathy. I have the impression that the women in my paintings don't have to fight for attention. They are mature and know that weakness is their greatest strength. It also happens that, regardless of our education and substantive preparation, in order to achieve something in life, we have to put on an armor. We are often seen as harpies. Only a closer look shows how high the price we have to pay for it.
The most important element that every artist should start with are emotions that are the aftermath of what he has experienced in his life. It was the same with the Great Masters. Despite the fact that their realizations are radically different from each other, they are characterized by authenticity, which is bound by vivid emotions. Vincent van Gogh, Caravaggio, Nowosielski, Deyneka - models still alive for me. Someone once told me that "I went back 100 years in art". Yes. I did it with full awareness.
See more of Beata May´s work here.