Loreal Prystaj / Shape of body

New York born, London based multidisciplinary artist Loreal Prystaj in conversation with Maria Abramenko.

Are you considering yourself a photographer or a multidisciplinary artist?

Although my base medium is photography, I consider myself multidisciplinary, for sure. There were a couple years I solely photographed, but honestly was finding myself left unsatisfied and itching for more creatively. When I moved to London from New York to attend the Royal College of Art for my Masters, I was not only surrounded by such a creative and inspirational bunch, but I was consumed by a breadth of mediums that were encouraged for students to explore. It was that experience where I realized how much I love transforming the 2D image into something 3-dimensional. I presently express ideas​ through photography, video/sound, installation, and sculptural interpretation.

What’s most important in your research?

As for research, it is hard to say what is most important because it is always changing depending on time, place, and mindset. What is most important for my practice and creative process is keeping an open mind–I know that may sound cliche, but it is easier said than done. I have grown very comfortable with telling myself and others I have no idea what I am creating or where it is going, even if I have started a piece; It is only in not knowing that we can be fully open to something we have never crossed paths with before. Rarely do I have a fully constructed idea when I start a work. Often I am attracted to an aesthetic or challenge–something I have not attempted before–and then experimenting. The majority of works start off intuitively, and then there is a “light bulb” moment, where I understand what I am trying to say and convey through the medium I am using; often it is something I am internalizing from my environment, and expressing creatively–that is the moment I begin my research often stemming from psychoanalysis.

Who are the artists you are inspired by and why? What do you have in common with them?

Oh gosh, what a question! There are many artists I love. Firstly what I am attracted to is the aesthetic of the art work, then I grow intrigued about who the artist is. I realize I am most captivated by artists who’s process is intuitive and often focused on expressing their subconscious experimentally; in other words, often categorized as surrealists. I Love love Louise Bourgeois, Dorothea Tanning, Rene Magrite, and Maya Deren. Although Deren would not be categorized as a surrealist, her avant-garde films possess many surreal attributes. These artists made work intuitively, were open to experiment, and created under any circumstance; making art was second nature for these artists–It was not contemplated or jeopardized by their surroundings– it was another form of breathing; impossible to live without. I relate greatly to this feeling about art and process to create.

What is your background and how did you start?

I have created ever since I can remember. As a little girl I would sit in my basement for hours drawing, painting, and making little sculptures with sculpey clay. To this day, I have many of my childhood creations still saved. It is wild to think, at age five I was already dating and signing my drawings or little sculptures, thinking that my older self would appreciate looking back. Once I reached high school, I had fulfilled all art classes and was mostly attracted to painting. Had I decided to take a scholarship to attend MICA University for painting, I would be somewhere completely different today. It was when I took one film photography class that everything changed. I was introduced to “painting with light” and grew obsessed– no joke. My senior year, before attending my undergrad at the Fashion Institute of Technology, I organized my classes to start in the afternoon, so I could attend a trade school, in visual communications/ photography, every morning. I would say that is where it all started. To this day, I am grateful for that experience and feel so fortunate to have parents who supported my decision.

What are your future plans?

This year I was granted the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa, which allows me to stay in the UK for the next 5 years. I plan to invest my time, energy, and creativity in London, and this really excites me! It is hard to fully say what the future holds, but after completing my Masters at the Royal College of Art, I knew I did not want to leave this City. I had devoted my time and energy to learn, create, meet like-minded people, and build a community that most importantly I felt part of– I am gratefully everyday for the support I feel surrounded by in London, and could not be happier to receive a Visa to stay. Presently I am focusing on making new work; photographically and sculpturally, starting an art podcast with two dear friends of mine, who are also talented artists, and making sure to devote my time and energy in being involved– may that be attending art openings and exhibitions, seeing what peers are up to creatively, supporting fellow artists, and starting up collaboration and projects–my focus is Art. I am fortunate to be part of Hi-Noon and Kovet.Art, which are both platforms that have helped launch my work and connect me to many art supporters internationally.

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