Freedom in Seven Tones: Contemporary Figure Paintings

On contemporary figure paintings inspired by the “glue” of the universe.


What makes us who we really are? My answer is freedom. This is a very fluid topic these days. In the age of social media, computerization of everything — monitoring, virtual data, and a lot of things we are not even aware in quick daily life — is changing what that means. Is it about privacy, security, anonymity? Or maybe the reverse: Could it be about subjectivity and the right to express yourself and to be who you want to be?

The theme of freedom fascinated me so much that I spent a year working on it, and created a series of paintings entitled “Boson.” Freedom is such a huge idea that I decided to choose several aspects that particularly moved me. Each painting from the series speaks of a different shade of freedom and a different context. I tend to complement my paintings with poems and texts about my inspirations.

I treated this theme from my own point of view and it led me to intriguing philosophical reflections. For example: Paradoxically, we can be free and enslaved at the same time — free and rich in time, enslaved with loneliness; have all the options and money in the world but don’t have the ability to use them because of health reasons.

We can live seemingly in total bondage of duties and work and feel free in spirit like no other. There are many shades, and I chose a few of them. For what is freedom in a relationship — socially feeling free or freedom of a parent. Is there a kind of this which nobody desires?

A little about me: I am an artist from a country in the middle of Europe, Poland, where Eastern old-school art traditions are mixing with more modern Western. I chose to stay where I was born and am living on the coast of the beautiful Baltic sea, which I love. I paint from what I remember, and figurative realism always was the closest style to my soul, character, and temperament.

My main goal in art is to spread some positivity. My every painting is based on emotion/thought. I am aware that I will not change the world, it will be still full of bad thoughts and deeds. But I can add my small drop of positivity — my art, my paintings. I want to share something optimistic, just in case someone needs it. What hypnotizes me the most is inner power, the strength of character.

Contemporary realism - Anna Wypych -
The Water (detail), 2018, oil on canvas, 20 x 27 ½ in.

What Is Boson?

You never know where you will find the inspiration. I was spending a lazy Sunday morning on my couch watching TV with my family. We choose a show about physics and I learned about Higgs boson, a particle discovered by British theoretical physicist Peter Higgs that is called “the glue of the universe” and “the God particle.” It somehow connected with my thoughts about freedom. Suddenly I knew “an idea of the idea.”

I painted a series of works titled “Boson,” named after this particle, a particle known from physics. In layman meaning, the boson is something which makes particles stick together, and therefore concludes that everything has mass. So it is something that makes things what they are. The particles without masses fall into a pole and interact with it to become different things. I connected this thing with reflections about the human condition and realized that freedom is our boson — freedom makes us who we really are. That was how a scientific TV series inspired art.

The first painting from series, “The Flower of Fern” (below), explores this. My thoughts about freedom traveled from one painting to another, like a long conversation. From thinking about what it really is, I started to think about its darker side in Black and White Play. This painting is about doubts when we have to make a difficult decision, sometimes between worse and the worst. Making every decision by yourself, even the extremely difficult that we don’t want to, makes us truly free — when you let someone else do it for you, you lose an important part of you.

These reflections led me to third painting from series, “Too Sweet to be Serious,” which concentrates on self-accepting. “Double Freedom” and “Paradox” explore the idea of freedom in the context of relations with loved persons. The last pained one, “The Lady of Time,” shares the theme of the most overwhelming and irresistible power — of passing time. Could we be free from passing time? This painting shows a door for all contexts — the power of our mind — we are free when we feel free. Freedom is in our mind.

Contemporary Figure Paintings

Boson 1: How Would Your Life Look, If You Can Do Anything?

Contemporary realism - Anna Wypych -
“The Flower of Fern” – Boson 1, 2017, oil on canvas, 35 ½ x 27 ½ in.

Contemporary realism - Anna Wypych -

“The Flower of Fern.” In the Slavic beliefs, mythical, legendary flower, which blooms once a year during the summer solstice, the shortest night of the year (approximately June 21 or 22). The finder will get wealth and prosperity. Looking for it was the main part of the celebration of Slavic Midsummer. Sobotka night was also the night of finding your beloved.

In old ages, pairing marriage belonged to the head of the family — the clan elders played professional matchmakers. But for girls who were not yet anyone’s girlfriends and wanted to avoid the usual forms of selecting partners, Kupala night was a great opportunity to gain a beloved. Young women plaited the wreaths of flowers and the magical herbs were put in a flaming torch and a collective ceremony with singing and dancing, entrusting the wreaths and waves of rivers and streams.

A little below waited boys who — whether in a secret agreement with the girls or simply counting on luck — tried to catch wreaths. Anyone who did it returned to the celebration to identify the owner of the wreath. In this way, the young could be associated in pairs, without exposing themselves to malicious comments or ridicule. That night they were allowed common remoteness from communities and lonely walks through the forest. On the occasion of that walk, young girls and young boys were looking at wetlands fern flower — a good fortune symbol. At the dawn, they returned to the still burning fires.

I was strongly inspired by this local nearly-forgotten tradition, and somehow portraying this free soul in that magic night seemed to be perfect for portraying the freedom.

In addition to painting, I’m also sometimes inspired to write poems.

The Flower of fern
She went to wander.
Free — embarrassed by nothing.
She is not like those “perfect” girls — perfectly matched.
She does not need to be pleasant and clean.
She likes to kick some asses for a breakfast.
She decides.

Boson 2: What If Your Freedom Is To Decide Between Bad And Worse?

Contemporary figure paintings - Anna Wypych -
“Black and White Play” – Boson 2, 2017, oil on canvas, 39 ½ x 27 ½ in.

The thought that we can not find who we really are without being independent led me to the darker side of it. What if you don’t want to decide? What if no matter what you decide there will be bad consequences? The second painting is about the black side of freedom — difficult decisions — freedom has a black image or a gray zone, and sometimes every decision is wrong (but giving it to someone else you lose your freedom — a part of your soul/mind). Sometimes playing with the difficult things makes you truly free, which is what led to “Black and White Play.”

Black and white world of black and white characters
black and white decisions
what to do?
she paints war marks on her face — in the color of hope
going with the dancing step
wherever she wants / it’s like there’s no extremism in the world
as if there is no fundamentalism
no nationalism
only people.
dirty skin
dirty person
dirty decisions
she faces it – all bad stuff – by her own – with strong self-confidence – and a bit crazy smile
take your own responsibility, and decide — because there are always people who “know better” and are happy to do it for you.
freedom is in the head
freedom is the state of mind

Freedom is the state of mind. There are days when I believe in it, without any reservation. There are also days when I hear the same words, from someone else, and I have to question it immediately. There are people who have a really horrible situation. There are people who you say “freedom is a state of mind,” and it is like a slap in the face to them. But let’s be honest: Those who have a really awful situation are not in the majority. Our big, “very serious” problems are stupid when we look at them from a distance. And freedom is a state of mind. Calmness is also the state of mind. You can and should practice it, just as you exercise your body by running, to run for a bigger distance. This is how I found something positive to share from dealing with a difficult thing.

Boson 3: What If You Do Not Like Your Color Of Freedom?

Contemporary figure paintings - Anna Wypych -
“Too Sweet to be Serious” – Boson 3, 2017, oil on canvas, 39 ½ x 27 ½ in.

I also looked at freedom as acceptance — being free is to be ourselves — when we are different, and we do not fit into usual standards, but also when we are ordinary. Freedom is acceptance of our innocence and mediocrity. I had always had a love/hate connection with the color pink, which was why I decided to explore this in this way.

Freedom is to be yourself !!!
shouts at me my TV everyday.
But this is only me here,
always a bit unstable,
average person…
In the world where everything has to be unique
I am as unique as everybody are.
Just enough to have a nice post in social media.
with my typical dreams
predictable choices
I do not have to prove to anybody anything.
I don’t need to explain from my emotions in front of anybody.
Sometimes I like rosy color
Sometimes I paint my nails for gold
because I am so girlish.…
My trophy necklace is also pretty
It has ribbons, sequins and enemy’s bones are pretty cut out, smooth and lovely — like pebbles or marshmallows

This is me — as I like to be.

Boson 4: What About Your Freedom When Someone’s Happiness Depends On You?

Contemporary figure paintings - Anna Wypych -
“Double Freedom” – Boson 4, 2017, 2017, oil on canvas, 39 ½ x 27 ½ in.

Contemporary figure paintings - Anna Wypych -

The fourth painting from series explores the theme of Freedom in a context of love. I was asking myself how it felt when you are strongly connected with someone? How it is to be free/to feel freedom when you love? What does it look like when you are a wife/husband for 10 years? For 20? 50? How does it feel to be free when your happiness depends on someone? I was thinking about this for a long time, and the result of these thoughts is this painting (and a lot of poems). One of them is below, more on my website.

I know you as well, as myself
so never fully.

Together we walk, steps of the drunk

like two morons.

Together we stroll and stumble

we have defeats together
together success
we grow up
Even if I want to be alone, and sit in an empty room, you have to be in next one to mine.

Boson 5: Can A Parent Be Truly Free?

Contemporary realism - Anna Wypych -
“Paradox” – Boson 5, 2017, oil on canvas, 39 ½ x 27 ½ in.

Contemporary realism - Anna Wypych -

This time I asked myself about freedom in context with parenting. If a parent could ever feel free? Should feel free? Is able to be truly free? What is the definition of freedom of loving parent? Does he/she still need it?

I will never be free because I love you more than myself.
I will never be free because you will always be with me, always in my thoughts.
I will never be free, I will always worry about you.
I am free because I can think about myself,
I am free because I can respect your needs as well as mine,
I am free because I know that I don’t have to sacrifice myself because I know that I have a choice in everything.
I’m free because I feel free.

Boson 6: What If You Have That Power?

Contemporary figure paintings - Anna Wypych -
“The Lady of Time” – Boson 6, 2018, oil on canvas, 39 ½ x 27 ½ in.

Contemporary figure paintings - Anna Wypych -

In the sixth part of the series I left that intimacy context of freedom and traveled to the most universal I think. Something that touches all of us, and from what nobody can hide — the time. Because of the passage of time — one of the most powerful things in the world — we can never be truly free. That led me to the imaginary world and thinking, what if we could be free in spite of time’s constraints? What would we do then?

This is beautiful to think about and might lead to some very interesting ideas for life. I believe that sometimes the biggest obstacle is to be brave enough to think about this — and doing it is easier than we thought. These are big things, but what if we could empower our time on a small scale? Doing something more slowly or do not lose time on things that are not important. Maybe we have a little influence on how our time runs on a small daily scale.

The Lady of Time
imagine that you have this power
that you are mightiest in the world
that you can stop this moment
you can collapse it and expand it
as much as you like
think about it
as if it is possible to freeze time
stretch it as you please,
brandish and knead
then form something from it
whatever you like
the greatest power in the world is at your fingertips
make friends with her
The Lady of Time.
unlimited power.

Boson 7: The Painting Which Does Not Exist Yet

I didn’t finish the series, and I am not sure if I ever will. I have a strong feeling that there should be something more to say, but I’m not sure what. It was working in the past and I am trying it now — waiting. Sometimes I have to give myself time to mature, to make it as it should be done. So the last painting from series is not painted just yet.

Contemporary figure paintings - Anna Wypych -
“The Water,” 2018, oil on canvas, 20 x 27 ½ in.

About the Artist
“I take Inspiration from what I see around me, but my personal thoughts are only the starting point, and inspiration for the research on the man and his condition.”

Anna Wypych, based in Poland, paints realistic portraits in the traditional oil technique. Her art contains elements of hyperrealism, surrealism, and pure imagination. A characteristic of her work is philosophical texts, which always complements her art. She concentrates on the human condition and her powerful portraits of women show a variety of inner strength, which can be found in people seen from the positive point of view.

Wypych received a master’s degree from the Academy of Fine Arts in 2011. During her studies she received eight national awards and grants. Wypych won the Grand Prix in the national competition “Artistic Journey of Hestia 2010”, “Pomeranian Artistic Hope 2011,” and the Certificate of Excellence, Palm Art Award 2012, Germany. Wypych’s paintings are included in the permanent collection of the European Museum of Modern Art, Barcelona in Spain, and The National Museum in Gdansk, Poland. She presented her works at many juried exhibitions including: “BP Portrait Award 2014,” National Portrait Gallery, London; “Modportrait 2014,” Foundation Bantierra, Zaragoza; “Women Painting Women 2014,” Principle Gallery Charleston, SC U.S.; “The Elite of Contemporary Art from Realism to the High Definition,” The National Museum of History of Moldova, Chișinau, Moldova; “Something more than realism … VIII,” Zaragoza, Spain; and “11 International 2014-2015 ARC Salon,” the Salmagundi Club, New York, NY, U.S.; “Modportrait 2016,” IAACC Pablo Serano, Instituto Aragones de Arte y Cultura Contemporaneos, Zaragoza, Spain. She has been recognized as the ARC Living Master the Art Renewal Center. She has presented her work in galleries and museums in Europe and the U.S.. She lives and works in Gdynia.


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