Backstage at Utah Arts Festival 2014: Salt Lake City’s Sergiusz Wiaderny creates fascinating abstract art in most unusual form


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Burning Meadows, Sergiusz Wiaderny.
Burning Meadows, Sergiusz Wiaderny.

Two years ago, Sergiusz Wiaderny applied to be in the Artists Marketplace at the Utah Arts Festival and was rejected.  

This year, when the Salt Lake City photographer artist (Booth 55) – who works full time at his business Pumpco (small aggregate concrete pump business) – was accepted, he says in an interview with The Utah Review that he is glad that he wasn’t accepted earlier. “I needed the time to improve my skills,” he adds, explaining that he had only started his art seriously six years ago. “I was coming back from skiing with my daughter and  I looked at the snow and the rock formations in Little Cottonwood Canyon, and the image struck me. I had no clue about what I would need to do as an artist with photography,” he says.

In that short time however, Wiaderny, who was born in Poland in the 1960s, has emerged as a unique abstract artist incorporating a developmental and finishing process that truly cannot be replicated in the way he captures images to represent abstract interpretations of the most intricate, exquisite details of nature and the surrounding environment. This is not only his first Utah Arts Festival but this is the first art festival of any kind in which he is participating.

Bird of Paradise, Sergiusz Wiaderny.
Bird of Paradise, Sergiusz Wiaderny.

Working with a Canon EOS Mark ll 5D camera and various paints, Wiaderny is continuously perfecting a technique that is inspired, in part, by the admiration he has for the work of Bill Atkinson, a former computer engineer who worked for Apple during the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s developing some of the earliest generation digital tools for creative output including QuickDraw, MacPaint and HyperCard software. Atkinson has become well-known for his nature photography and Wiaderny was drawn especially to his book ‘Within The Stone,’ which features images of cut and polished stone and rock that look like abstract art works. Similarly, Wiaderny has studied extensively the work and technique of Bryan Peterson, whose books on technique and skills building in photography are considered essential standards.

Wiaderny, who works on his art at his home studio on evenings, weekends, and during the winter when his daytime business is at its lull, focuses intensely on making artistic prints of what he would consider as satisfying enough to be of top quality. He applies specifically calibrated amounts of color paint, either in liquids or on a flat, wet surface. He then relies on natural physical properties to work their magic, moving the paints around for a few seconds. Meanwhile, Wiaderny is focused on targeting the correct amount of exposure time. During the ensuing process, Wiaderny snaps hundreds of images – 300, for example – over several hours, such as four and a half hours.  He’ll only keep a fraction of the images he snaps and store them in his computer. He uses Digital Photo Professional where all the images are separated and are guaranteed to have the sharpest and purest effects in their final form. “Sometimes, I might only have one or two usable pictures from an entire day of work,” he explains, adding that sometimes he retrieves images from the “trash” because he now sees something unique that he did not spot the first time.

Coral Reef, Sergiusz Wiaderny.
Coral Reef, Sergiusz Wiaderny.
He draws on various inspirational sources, such as the rock formation and trickling emerald water pools in Zion’s National Park. Others are inspired by flowers, the process of photosynthesis, the sensation of a breeze off the ocean, or the types of satellite images one would see of the moon or planetary objects. Some works are so realistically compelling, even in abstract form, that one finds it difficult to believe they were generated by computer. For an artist who just recently entered into serious work in the field, he has an astounding command of how color contrasts and textural depths make for stunningly approachable interpretations in the abstracted form.

For his prints, Wiaderny constructs a wooden frame and stretches Brilliance Chromata White canvas steadily over the rectangular contours which will define the final piece. Thus, his finished work ends up being a true painting and he mitigates completely any glare effect that might distract from the purity of the final work. The final print is generated in large format on a Canon IPF 8100 Printer, which Wiaderny believes has the ideal color-pigment ink system to meet the widest possible spectrum of color needs in his work.  Afterward, he uses a Glamour 2 varnish as a protective coating to elucidate the colors and their depths. As expected, all of his prints are in limited edition. 


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Les Roka
I am a native of Toledo, Ohio, having received my Ph.D. in journalism and mass communication from Ohio University's Scripps School of Journalism in 2002. In addition to teaching at Utah State University and the University of Utah, I have worked extensively in public relations for a variety of organizations including a major metropolitan university, college of osteopathic medicine, and community college. When it comes to intellectual curiosity, I venture into as many areas as possible, whether it’s about music criticism, the history of journalism, the practice of public relations in a Web 2.0 world and the soon-to-arrive Web 3.0 landscape, or how public debates are formed about many issues especially in the political arena. As a Salt Lake City resident, I currently write and edit a blog called The Selective Echo that provides an entertaining, informative, and provocative look at Salt Lake City and its cosmopolitan best. I also have been the U.S. editorial advisor for an online publication Art Design Publicity based in The Netherlands. And, I use social media tools such as Twitter for blogging, networking with journalists and experts, and staying current on the latest trends in culture and news. I also have been a regular monthly contributor to a Utah business magazine, and I have recently conducted a variety of editing projects involving authors and researchers throughout the country and the world, including Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Lebanon, Cyprus, the United Kingdom, France, and Japan. I’m also a classically trained musician who spent more than 15 years in a string quartet, being involved in more than 400 performances.

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