Koscianski to lecture on his dark, edgy paintings


“The Thick of It,” 46” × 64”, oil on canvas. Submitted image.

Elora Tocci | Staff Writer

Imagination is a wonderful thing.

When ideas exist only in the imagination, they have the potential to go anywhere. Be anything. They exist only in feelings and senses and thoughts and are completely at the mercy of the imaginer.

But when the imagination gives way to reality, when ideas take a tangible form, they lose their potential. They exist in the physical world, and they become less perfect than they were under the protection of imagination.

Leonard Koscianski, who will lecture at 7 p.m. tonight in the Strohl Art Center, finds this the most challenging aspect of painting — or any form of artistic expression, for that matter. In the process of painting his ideas on paper, the ideas lose some of their possibility.

“Everything I’ve ever created has been like that,” he said.  “Nothing is ever what I would have hoped it would be.”

But as disappointing as that can be, Koscianski said it’s also the greatest reward to see the ideas that had been kicking around in his head become a reality. And besides, if a painting came out perfect, that would be the last piece Koscianski ever made.

“If I ever did a painting that completely expressed what I had to say, I’d stop,” he said. “Why make another one?”

Koscianski’s paintings, described as “fierce” by The Huffington Post, explores the dark, edgy side of the human psyche. Much of his work depicts animals and the animalistic tendencies innate in humans.

In his lecture, Koscianski will talk about his most recent work, the paintings he’s done over the last 10 or 15 years. He said he tried different mediums as a student but gravitated toward painting because it allowed him to say the things he wanted to say more compellingly than other mediums.

Oil painting takes so long to dry that it allows for tremendous flexibility, which allows Koscianski to continue working and manipulating the paint.  Students often hate that aspect of oil painting, he said, but it’s what drew him to the medium. On the other hand, he also enjoys working with pastel, which has immediate effects on the paper and can’t be easily changed.  Then there’s tempera, with its precision and detail.

“Each medium has its own strength and power, and each artist discovers unique qualities about them,” Koscianski said.

But whatever method he’s using, he said he lets viewers take their own meaning from his work. Like two people who see a movie together and walk out of the theater with clashing opinions, he said art means something different to each person who looks at it.

“People discover their own message,” he said. “Or they just experience the beauty, without needing an editorial message.”