VOLUPTUOUS TOWNS – city portrait – interview with Jan Astner
Portrait of town. The face of the city is the theme of your VOLUPTUOUS TOWNS series. Intriguing!
Jan Astner: Every town is different. It has a different face, or rather faces. A portrait of a city is not about urban planning and architecture. Towns are people. Each city has different people, a different way of life, different customs. We all know it, but we seldom study it more closely.
Portraying people follows certain rules. How does this relate to painting city portrait?
Jan Astner: Cities show their true face only if we look at them carefully. Cities are sensual, just like people. When we look closely, they show us much more than appearances. Because cities, like people, hide secrets and protect their taboos. Viewed, viewed from the inside out, from the inside, from the bottom, from the hidden side, they show something that goes beyond the conventional frames of perception. This is the search for their true portrait. Or, to put it right – one of the portraits.
So fascination, inquiry, and, as you say, „peeking” at towns, watching them?
Jan Astner: What is fascinating about traveling is getting to know this sphere that you cannot see, that you can experience individually. The series „Voluptuous Towns” – portraits of cities – is a travel diary. Each picture refers to a different city I have visited. Each is a record of the feelings that accompanied the visit. It is a description of discoveries and experiences.
This travel diary of yours translates impressions into colors, stains …
Jan Astner: Each city has its own specific color, from pastel, delicate to aggressive, imposing clashes of colors. Bright street grids, but also limiting webs, walls and partitions. In each city, you can turn your imagination in overdrive into a flow of fantasy and savor delightful views, because each city image is different. Just like us.
You use your own method, painting technology.
Jan Astner: Every portrait in this series is painted using the imprint method, without the use of a brush. Stamped with all sorts of tools and surfaces. My paintings refer to cubism, macro pointillism. Thanks to this technique, portraits are very rich and multi-layered. The structure of the picture can be studied many times, and each time the viewer will discover something new.
Will this series ever be closed, finished one?
Jan Astner: It is an ongoing project, an endless series. I systematically record portraits of the cities I visit. The project has been going on for several years. Every year, new works are being added to it. Each portrait is an impression of a meeting with a city. I will paint them as long as I will travel!