Henryk approaches his work with a kind of bravado we like. I’m casting broad strokes here, but he doesn’t seem to be the type of artist who spends much time doubting himself. Rather, he approaches his work with a child like tenacity. He is someone who creates because he wants to, and because he likes it. This could be why there is a strong feeling of la joie di vivre coming through his vivid, textured paintings, which are garnering attention around the world. It is not surprising to see someone like Henryk succeed in the significant way that he is. I recently caught up with him in our paddington showroom to chat about his journey, influences, art and the impact technology has on his work.
BT: At the time you moved into painting, you had already built an enviable career as a photographer, can you tell us about what brought about that change?
HL: I started to shoot less (as I wouldn’t budge on rates) and the ‘rise-of-the-influencers’ made some of the market drop and clients started expecting cheaper photography. It just happened to coincided with Covid for me. I found myself with 8 months of no work, and at home, with a void of time to create within! I bought a bunch of art supplies (I had always wanted to go thick & child-like with paint) and within 2-3 weeks I sold my first small piece for $900 to a friend. It just snowballed from there. I then expanded into thicker works […] It’s been a wild 3 years of growth.
I also had a belief at that point that was growing within my psyche: Photos were becoming cheap. With photo-editing anything was possible to create (fake or real) and replicate onto a wall a million times (this was pre-AI too!) Now with AI, it’s all gone for me. I don’t believe it, so I don’t feel it, so I don’t appreciate it deeply.
Photography began to lose its lustre, and I made the decision that art, for me, had to be completely unique and individualistic for every single creation I put my time into. That’s where the future perceived value was for me – in a piece that was totally one of a kind. I can now do that in art, and people want that more than ever, my work is appreciated for longer on a wall instead of a magazine or catalogue. People want to feel things deeply in a world that needs more reality. They want something to hold onto and believe in.
BT: What other artists (in any medium) currently excite you the most?
HL: Virgil was my last love. He was a brilliant creative mind. I loved his colour usage and his design aesthetic at the helm of LV. The fade series I do with @amelia.axton (wifey) was heavily inspired by his Louis Vuitton collections. Fashion & colour heavily inspire me.
BT: How do you nurture your creativity? Do you have any key principles or rules around maintaining your creativity, productivity or inspiration?
HL: It’s been non-stop with making back to back shows right now. Productivity is easy, that’s never been my issue, but I do set myself tasks and I push to complete them daily, even if it’s late nights.
Right now I’m so ‘in it’, in a creative vibe, that I’m living in a bit of a bubble to be honest, it feels right and every day I’m shown it’s the right path. But about a year ago I had a moment where I felt I needed to stop making-to-sell and only make-to-love, then sell. And that was super important. If you are making only to sell: the inspiration gets sucked right out of you as a creative. I don’t take on commissions that I don’t feel I want to create. That is a big one.
BT: What is the last thing you learned about yourself as an artist?
HL: Build it and they will come. If something isn’t there that you want to see in this world, you need to create it.
I recently wanted to not be limited by weight (as my concrete works are heavy over 1 metre) and I wanted to go bigger! So I spent a week solid learning for great minds on how to cast & form my pieces to lighten them. The process worked! The works are hand painted & faded, but 70% lighter.
The lesson for me was being OK spending a huge amount of money & time to do R&D into this. And one week later I sold a 1.7m faded Ultra Matte commission that’s cast & will be shipped to Saudi Arabia! So It’s always good to constantly back yourself & what you want to create even if it’s painful in the growth stage as there is always a way forward.
BT: You’re exploring the forefront of technology and art with some of your store concept designs which utilise AI tech, and at the same time, there is something ancient about your heavy, textured pieces. What excites you about the future of art and technology?
HL: Im excited about 3D printing, but it’s not there yet. I can’t use it yet. But we are probably only 1-3 years away from that breakthrough in quality & detail output. Maybe less! But for now I’m casting (it’s very expensive to do but the detail is incredible.)
I’ve also been very excited about Midjourney and that has been a very fun road with the stores. Maybe I will open a real store in the future who knows! But I love how now anyone can create anything that we can imagine in an image – and it’s very fun to play in that space. I have been taking on a few AI commissioned works for brands too which has been fun but it’s just an exploratory phase for me. I want to stay tapped in to it to see what parts of AI can serve me & my work so I look & play. I think down the road something will strongly align with me that joins the two.
Pictures provided by Henryk.
Henrky Studio will showing select art pieces in our Paddington showroom between September 8th – 16th. Please contact email@example.com to organise a private showing.