Alentejo is an interesting place. It’s a place to disconnect, but also to focus. Traditional Portuguese cuisine, excellent wine, idyllic landscapes… Tuscany in Portugal! Since not long ago it’s also a location of choice for Poland’s native Dominik Jasinski to live and create his art.
I am on the assignment to photograph my client’s latest modular construction project, which happens to be the new art studio of Dominik. The location is a 6 hours drive from Porto, where I am currently based. Richard, the owner of the property, has kindly offered me to stay overnight at their house which would allow me to start shooting early the next day.
So here I am, driving 500km through the freezing cold of December night to the middle of nowhere, to photograph the place I’ve never seen and stay with people I’ve never met. I love my job!
It’s about midnight and I’ve finally arrived. I am greeted by Richard and Dominik who directly invite me inside the house. Ceiling-high Christmas tree and the soothing sound of burning fireplace reminds me that we are counting days to New Year. The ambience in the house is amazing. Next thing I know – I am being offered dinner in the company of my hosts and a bottle of Russian Standard (obviously) lands on the table in front of me. “Glass or shots?” they ask me. “Emm.. shots.” – I answer. And the conversation flows.
“Two things I am always proud of,” says Dominik, “First is that I was in centenary edition of Vogue and second is that I met the Saudi princess who flew a private jet to meet me in the gallery in Kuwait. The tension before that meeting was unbelievable. I was told so many things, like I could not say this, could not say that… or laugh before she laughs. But in the end she turned out to be all nice,” he smiles.
Long story short, after the 4th courtesy shot of the Russian I had to gently stop the incredible hospitality of my hosts in order to be up and working before the first sunlight.
I woke up around 6:30 am, packed my equipment and headed towards the studio. The early morning in Alentejo is magnificent. The orange sun is rising up and lights the sleepy fog that sits among the trees. It’s cold. And it’s the best time to capture the mood of the location where the house is situated.
What is Jasinski’s wooden cabin if not the perfect art studio? The house sits on the hillside facing the sunrise and offers panoramic views to as far as the eye can see. The studio is fully self sufficient. It has a living room, which Dominik transformed into a functional workplace, bedroom which serves as storage, kitchen and bathroom. It’s practical, easy to maintain and features clean minimalist design.
I can’t help but to curiously explore the creative chaos inside the house. Paintings, sketches, easels, brushes and LOTS OF COLOR! Color is everywhere. The artist himself describes his style as contemporary. His paintings are easily recognized by dominance of bold colors, expressive motives and a touch of abstract madness. All people he paints are real. Jasinski’s personality is leaking out on every portrait he does, taking form of abstract backgrounds and additional elements on faces and bodies (usually flowers and birds).
Dominik joins me around 9 am in the studio. First thing first – coffee. He offers me one and we sit on the terrace. “I drink about 10 coffees a day,” he says. “I absolutely hate it. But it reminds me that I am at work. Because that’s what working people do right?” So coffee makes you feel at work? “Coffee makes me feel like I’m gonna vomit”. Then we go inside, he takes out his tools, turns on the good old Mac, all in spills of paint, plays some Polish jazz and starts working on the unfinished painting.
What I liked about our conversations with Dominik is his authenticity. He is very self-aware, and speaks the raw and uncovered truth about himself.
The move to Portugal has not been an easy period for Jasinski, creative wise. “I need my routine. I think it’s too little time we’ve been here for me to have my routine,” he says. “I normally paint about 70 paintings a year. This year has been the most disastrous, I did maybe 30.” I ask him which part of the painting process he loves the most. “The sketch. Sketches are always the best and then I fuck everything up,” he laughs. What is the most difficult for you to paint? “The body. Faces are easy.”
Later on I find out that big part of Jasinski’s work includes commercial art. Illustrations, prints, merchandise are only a few from the list. His current obsession is sneakers. He shows me a pair of Adidas entirely covered in colorful patterns painted with astonishing precision. “This is what I really want to do”, he says. “I already have the contacts here in Portugal who can help me to produce the prints.”
I never considered myself an art person. Nevertheless, there is something about Jasinski’s paintings that made me take a pen and write this blog. Looking forward to see his works on display in Portuguese galleries!
You can see the full gallery of paintings on Dominik’s website
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