Q&A with Leo Poloniecki on Remain Calm

Now showing.

Recently, I caught up with Singapore-based British artist, Leo Poloniecki following his latest solo exhibition now showing from 26 September until 18 October 2015 at the Barnadas Huang gallery. Punctuated by abstract shapes and arresting pops of colour, Remain Calm is a series of landscapes; its sole purpose to invite balance and calmness at first impression.

Having graduated from London's Camberwell Art College, Poloniecki never really gave much time to his art back then. "I'm not sure why", he muses. While he exhibited in London at group shows and other joint shows with artist and photographer friends, it was only in Singapore that he began to give more attention to his art and here we are, at Remain Calm.

Leo Poloniecki at Barnadas Huang, Singapore

Q & A

GGP: Could you explain the motivation and meaning behind Remain Calm? Is there a particular reason behind your use of geometric shapes?

LP: The most common question I've been asked over the past few days (since the show opened) is 'What's your inspiration?' - a perfectly reasonable question. Yet I always find myself struggling with it since, for me, the journey towards abstract painting has been such a gradual one. I began painting landscapes of the Yorkshire countryside (I went to school in Yorkshire) and over time I dumped the things about the painting that I wasn't interested in and spent more time on the things I was. ​Pretty soon I wasn't painting landscapes at all, but big abstract paintings instead. But that's the thing - they are still landscapes to me! Just without something you can obviously say is a tree or a field or whatever. So in a sense 'remain calm' is an exhibition of landscapes and still lives designed to have a calming influence on the viewer.

GGP: What was your turning point in becoming an artist? Did you always know you wanted to be involved in art?

​Poloniecki: ​It was the one thing I seemed to be quite good at from a young age. I wasn't outstandingly brilliant or anything, but it was definitely 'my subject' at school and I tended to win the annual art prize and things like that. So, yes, I was always pointing in that direction. But Camberwell Art School was the most exciting time ​because it wasn't just about painting pictures (i.e. the craft) but it was also amazing to be allowed and encouraged to 'be an artist'- you seemed to have permission to not have to obey the rules everyone else had to follow in life.

GGP: Walk us through your creative process.

LP: I don't like the idea of starting a painting knowing exactly what it's going to look like in the end. I much prefer to just start... and let the painting go where it wants to go. I also don't like the idea of 'starting softly'... i.e. doing some careful drawing in a light 2b pencil to start with. I usually start with a big stick of charcoal and draw freely to start off with. Then I have something quite 'strong' on the paper or canvas that I have to respond to and turn into something interesting and rich and more subtle.

GGP: Have you considered any collaborations with any artist? If so who? (it could be anyone living or not)

LP: Great question! I have been so inspired by so many artists, you could say it's a form of collaboration. I am starting where they left off and trying to see where (if anywhere) I can take it. You could argue that the whole history of art is a long collaboration, with each generation handing the baton on to the next. ​Other than that, since my studio practice is a solitary one, I mostly think of collaboration in terms of exhibiting work alongside other artists - and that's always really fun to do. You then see the difference between how a work feels in your studio, and how it feels in a gallery space alongside work of a totally different style or genre. This can be best when it's an group exhibit with a theme. Then you get to see how different artists respond to the same theme - the variety of approaches and interpretations is always eye-opening.

GGP: Have you ever felt tired or burned out when in the middle of designing a piece? What do you do to recharge yourself?

LP: Painting is probably the only form of work that doesn't feel like work to me. ​As a result, so far, I have never felt burned out by it at all. If anything, I feel like I'm getting recharged when I'm painting. It's an added bonus of painting that you can listen to things - the radio or Ted talks or whatever - while you're painting. So even when you're in the process of creating output, there's also an opportunity to be taking stuff in, which perhaps also counters the potential for 'burnout'.

GGP: Tell us something that most people may not know or might be surprised to know about you​.

LP: I think I'm sufficiently unknown that no one has a 'surprisable' preconception! For what it's worth, though, before I returned to painting seriously, I tried to be a novelist - writing a number of books, none of which were published... I think I'm better off sticking to painting!

GGP: What's next for Leo Poloniecki?

LP: I have worked in advertising for some time, and my next series of paintings (which I have only just begun) will be a kind of comment on advertising - obviously drawing a lot on my knowledge of what it takes to make a campaign that really captures peoples' imaginations and works. I'm really hoping the new series turns out well... but - in art or advertising - you never know whether an idea is going to work until you can see the result for yourself!

To view the artworks, head over to:

Venue: Barnadas Huang, 61 Duxton Road Singapore 089525

Dates: 25 Sep - 18 Oct 2015

Photo credits go to Leo Poloniecki and Barnadas Huang, Singapore.


Occasional hand model with a taste for adventure.

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