Michelle Avery Konczyk‘s beautifully strange portraits of young women with ghostly appearances and third eyes are a far cry from the cheerful, impressionistic paintings we commonly associate with the watercolor medium. “It is my goal,” the artist says, “to push the boundaries of the medium and take it where no artist has gone before, not only in technique and subject matter, but in presentation.” Moving between the realms of both realism and surrealism, Konczyk’s work is layered with imagery that juxtaposes love and beauty with darkness and morbidity as a means to explore “the beauty that lies within our ugly realities.”
Konczyk’s female figures are alluring in their youthfulness, yet their pale skin and stoic expressions suggest a certain lifelessness to them. They are often accompanied by the red rose promising eternal love and beauty, which at times is interjected with ominous visions of black crows. Eyes are also a common motif in Konczyk’s work, the presence of which not only lends to the surreal atmosphere of her paintings but also emphasizes the central theme of perception beyond ordinary sight. Continuously, Konczyk challenges us to question the role our own perceptions play in defining reality. “The only thing apparent and true,” she offers, “is there cannot be light without darkness, and there cannot be beauty without ugliness.”
Hailing from the small town of Nazareth, Pennsylvania, Konczyk has recently been featured in Growth / Decay: A Dual City Group Show, an exhibition co-curated by Paradigm Gallery in Philadelphia and Antler Gallery in Portland. The artist is also experimenting with the ways in which she presents her artwork, and has taken to mounting her watercolors onto pieces of wood, which “breaks the traditional shape along with inviting the viewer into the piece.” View more of Konczyk’s work and learn about her artistic process on her Instagram.