Proclaimed as a ‘fashion artist,’ Aga Baranska is like no other. Her works range from paintings and textiles to sculptures and collages—always with strong fashion undertones. With several exhibitions and her oeuvres constantly being ‘repinned’ on Pinterest, Baranska’s popularity is on the rise! The talented and beautifully spirited artist granted Lively Magazine an in-depth interview. Read on to learn about her goals, inspirations, and aesthetics.
What lead you to transition from fashion designer to artist? Was this an easy transition or did you have to discover/experiment with a new identity?
I feel like this transition has been a very happy accident; I didn’t plan it. I was painting on different types of paper and fabric patterns in a traditional way without using any digital manipulations. After completion, the paintings were meant to be used as textiles for bags and clothes. One of my clients, J&M Davidson, saw the original drawings, fell in love with them and helped organize my first exhibition in Tokyo. When the work was framed, it didn’t look like fabric design any more. It was a great feeling. I thought, “Now I am a ‘fashion artist.’”
What do you feel distinguishes a fashion designer from an artist?
I think we build the border ourselves. Today, the fashion industry is very open and curious about the art world. We are all searching for new influences, new impacts, and beauty in things that surround us. Art is incredibly fragile and every single creative process demands to be very honest with your heart. This is important and applies to fashion design, to creating a painting, or writing a song…
Your website states that your artistic style offers ‘free translation of cultural artifacts.’ Can you expand on that?
I am very attracted and fascinated by the crafts of the world. Crafts are a strong influence in my work. I try to smoothly travel between cultures and religions and create artworks that reflect that; it can be just the colors from India or paper-mache masks from Mexico. I made this 5.6’’ high Madonna figure that is now standing in my living room. I am not a very religious person and she looks different from what you will find in a church. Some objects just become talismans or amulets with a task of seducing its believers.
Why/How did you decide to use fashion magazine covers in your work?
I have been collecting Vogue magazines since 1992, so we are talking about 20 years of collecting them from all over the world. And every time I moved, they’ve been traveling with me! Some people have books—I have Vogues. So at the beginning they were just beautiful magazines that I received from my parents as presents, later they became references for trends, then I started cutting up images and making collages, and now somehow the idea of changing and playing with the covers felt like a natural step for me.
What artists inspire you?
I am always hypnotized by the exhibitions curated by the British Museum. I look back and love Chagall, Matisse, and Picasso. I follow the work of photographer Steven Meisel because his pictures tell amazing stories. But sometimes also my friends, who don’t consider themselves artists, have a huge impact on my work. When your soul is open, then you easily attract inspiration and see more.
Over the years, what have you found challenging about the fashion industry?
The fashion industry is very complicated. You cannot simply focus on the creative—there is a huge segment of logistic, production, technology, marketing, etc. You must try to keep up with it all and follow the changes around you. It’s a hard job.
What are some goals you hope to achieve as an artist or fashion designer?
At my last exhibition in Berlin, I came across surprising comments. One of the collectors said that my artwork makes her feel happy, a painter said that he felt the energy to start painting again. These moments are magical and difficult to capture, but feel like good karma. I hope not to lose it. Well, a collaboration with Vogue will also be a happy moment…