The studio of Tomasz Kopcewicz was seemingly easy to find. Unfortunately, like always, I needed to get directions through the phone. Overhanging by the window sill, he gave me verbal and non-verbal clues on how to safely go through the maze of gates, doors and staircases. In his Warsaw studio, the walls are painted dazzling white, something dear to the heart of every photographer who dreams about his own studio. The air is filled with the distinct smell of turpentine, but my nose very quickly got used to it after just ten minutes. Too bad because it’s one of my favorite scents. In the corner of the room stands a huge tin tuba and a 16 mm Soviet film camera. Countless canvases stand leaned against the wall, all of them turned back from me. I didn’t dare to look at them without permission.
Tomek was very hospitable. Out of hand he offered coffee and gave me his most comfortable chair. He did not turn on the music; there was no need as we could enjoy the birds singing from the wide open window. The conversation was extremely interesting. An artist worthy of the name, Tomek lives and breathes art. Everything that he does have references to art. Only recently, he returned from Africa and now worked on another painting showing the world behind the mesh – the protection against illegal immigrants. “Until I saw it, I did not even have thought that such a thing happens at all,” he said.
Traveling is a great inspiration for Tomek. Together with the great Polish photographer Michał Szlaga, they held a few weeks’ cruise on Mediterranean on a tiny yacht called Sputnik II. Dressed as real sailors they photographed, drew, painted, and collected a huge amount of further inspiration, as you can see in the album “Odyseja #1” Tomek’s gaze reached far. He told me about the planned projects, the details of which I unfortunately cannot tell yet, but with these two gentlemen, I am sure that the results will be great.
I took out the cameras from my bag and loaded films. Tomek’s eyes immediately lit up. “Is it analog?” he asks. “A piece of machine!” he pointed on my Mamiya 645. In fact, it’s large and quite heavy. We had a long talk about the camera’s weight and portability. We concluded the superiority of analog photography over digital — it cannot be the other way. I’m lucky that Michał was not with us then, because he probably would tell us his opinion and I could no longer pretend to be an expert. Our cooperation was very smooth. You could see that the camera likes Tomek very much. With great commitment he agreed to do even the most sophisticated poses (if sitting sideways on a chair with legs curled is an sophisticated pose). We did not even know when we already shot fifteen frames. Time passed very quickly, because our main activity, contrary to initial assumptions, was not the photo shoot but mostly talking about art. We pulled out Tomek’s old MacBook and alternately showed works of our favorite artists. Just after I took the last frame, the phone started ringing.
We were back to reality – Tomek must leave tomorrow, and I did not want to take his valuable time. On the easel stoods the canvas, the paint was very fresh. I quietly packed up my stuff and said goodbye. I’m very grateful for inspiring two hours we spent together. Tomek wouldn’t say that, but I know that I got him away from painting. I’m glad that the moment after I left, he was back again in his own world.