Photography is conventionally treated as an impeccable tool for casting the surface of a moment. Yet, artists like Gosia Machaczka rather see it as a way to peel off the layers of reality, revealing its complex structure.
The featured series Hollow was born as a response to the artist’s experience of changing her milieu radically, as she had moved from Sweden to the USA. She has chosen the city, which would completely oppose her previous life—the never sleeping, colourful Los Angeles that promised endless possibilities and joy. And yet, the shiny surface of the first impression of LA got covered with cracks as Gosia discovered people were struggling with the same emotions there as her fellow countrymates, challenged with “loneliness, emptiness, and sometimes even despair,” as she wrote. Instead of replicating the utopian image, she used photography to represent its reverse side, often ignored in public discussions.
Looking at Gosia’s works, one thinks about arguably the most iconic American artist of the 20th century— Edward Hopper (1882—1967). Being influenced by the aesthetics of the Hollywood Golden Age films, he was the painter who inspired the later generations of filmmakers, like Alfred Hitchcock, László Kovács, and Wim Wenders. He was one of those, who influenced the Hollywood methods of framing and composition, and introduced urban imagery into painting. Gas stations, offices, cafes and other locations were traditional settings of Hopper’s pieces.
The parallel between his and Gosia’s artwork is the remarkable loneliness of their personages in the empty places, often shown in the nighttime. Trapped in the cage of the big city, those people emanate the sense of prostration and isolation captured with the intensive palette. Gosia stages a series of images intertwined into small stories concentrated mainly on unhappy relationships. The one chosen for this issue is especially Hopper-like in colouring: reading the description of his canvases by Leatrice Eiseman, Keith Recker, it’s easy to see Gosia is following the same formula: “Hopper’s disquieting emptiness is rendered in paradoxically fullbodied tones of teal and emerald, ruby and amber, and in an earthy brown.”
Each image narrates the collisions of imaginary private lives of her heroes, hinting at the conflicts and histories that led them to this moment. Gosia says, “Through my use of colour and composition, I monumentalize the characters, make them beautiful, admirable, even through their pain.” She hints at the key conflict of each case by including one image with the telling details, like an instant photograph of a couple on a table. Together with recognizably cinematographic angles and noir lightning, those elements shape the spectacular mundanity of small tragedies of an average person.
Gosia Machaczka is a Swedish and Polish visual artist based in Los Angeles, California, USA. She defines herself as a portrait, product, and concert photographer driven by a passion for storytelling. Strong colour stories, high contrast, and drama are frequently used in her work to reflect the broad palette of the LA lifestyle.
Gosia Machaczka is the Bronze Artist of the ArtAscent People call for artists. To see the full body of work and profile, get a copy of the ArtAscent Art & Literature Journal People issue.