After growing up in Poland, under the rigid rules of conformity imposed by the Soviet Union, Agnieszka Pilat brought her artistic talents to America, where she is now known for her industrial-inspired artwork. Upon moving to San Francisco, Pilat noticed a divide between the tech industry and the art community and began putting her own perspective on this discrepancy in her now highly sought after pieces.
“A lot of my artist friends are being pushed out because of home prices. It’s a very interesting situation for me personally because I came from Eastern Europe, a place where the textile industry really fell apart. I wanted to tell my story about industry and be a positive voice and protector of entrepreneurs in America. I’m so grateful to be in America, it’s such an amazing privilege.”
Agnieszka was an aspiring artist even at a young age, and eventually went to art school to study illustration for graphic novels. However, she soon realized her penchant and passion for painting.
“I was living here in San Francisco and making contacts in Silicon Valley when a big real estate developer approached me and asked me to paint a machine for him. This really opened the door to the work that you see now. As a good painter you don’t want to paint the outside of the surface, you have to paint the essence of what you’re working on.”
While she usually paints objects from a bygone era which bring about feelings of nostalgia, Agnieszka was recently commissioned to paint the Waymo self-driving car. During this project, she projected the fear of people losing their jobs onto the piece, which made it especially hard for her at the time. After all, this passionate painter’s main mission is to always humanize technology while expressing her sometimes mixed feelings about old devices as well as the evolving modernization of things.
Her current creative collection, called #Disrupt, explores the complex relationship between man and machine and will be on display at Art Basel in Miami in December. “I chose to call this collection Disrupt because I thought the word was a bit provocative. Technology is disrupting the current status quo, and I wanted to show that disruption is not something happening uniquely right now. People will look back at history and reflect on what happened in the past. In Europe you might look at the Greek ruins, but North America is a new country, so all of the reflections of the past are rooted in technology here. Looking at relics of the past brings nostalgia and peace of mind to people. Whoever holds the reins to technology is who is making and shaping the world. I compare painting industrial machines and consumer products to painting a person.”
Agnieszka has always aimed to build a bridge between the art world and industrial sphere – after all, the art world is driven by technology. “I’m very interested in being the voice of the machine as the world continues changing. It’s also very interesting to be an artist here. Tech money is young money, whereas New York has the culture and patronage.”
While she’s not ready to move to Manhattan just yet, Agnieszka is currently represented by four galleries in New York, as well as those in Seattle, Boston, and across California. She also has a quarterly newsletter that is both authentic and deeply personal. Aside from painting images that make people nostalgic, Agnieszka sometimes feels nostalgic for her hometown of Lodz, which is why she visits her mother and brother who still live there every Christmas.
Agnieszka continues to be inspired by the rapid growth of San Francisco and is still switching things up and more importantly, disrupting the way people think about machines – and maybe even their own past.