Interview – Lena Zak

Slovakia-born artist Lena Zak mobilizes Abstract Expressionist-inspired strategies to create bold, gestural compositions that she refers to as “intense representations of emotion”. Spontaneity and raw feeling are key to her process, which is about navigating chaos and uncertainty in an effort to find balance. 

Most currently, Zak is working on monochromatic paintings on raw canvas, with focus strictly on the emotion behind the brushstroke, a raw feeling that fuels every move, with visible hand gestures and energy that is obvious at the very first glance.

How long have you been an artist? Do you live on it?

I believe that every artist was born being an artist, so to answer your question, I've always done something creative and/or artistic across several fields. But I really started focusing on expressing myself through visual art - painting on a daily basis probably around 5 years ago, and was totally consumed by it to be honest. At the moment I live on it partially, as I support myself also out of creative copywriting and content creation

Lena Zak for Sauvage Gallery – Contemporary Art Gallery
Studio shot with Lena Zak

How does the current period change your Art? Does it have any impact on your creation process? 

My art and my practice changes along with me, so the current situation definitely had an impact. I use expressionist-inspired strategies to manifest what I feel and my whole world is hidden somewhere in between the strokes of paint. So I would say that every change in my life has a direct impact on my art practice. More than ever, I'm focusing on capturing the raw feelings, the energy while keeping the color-pallette simpler, and letting the power of each stroke tell its own story.   

I let go of controlling myself while painting, and the whole process went from calm to wild and dirty as one can tell only from looking at the walls of my studio. For me, this means a shift to being more open, unapologetic and more authentic than ever, as I truly am a very energetic person who always has to do something, loves changes, loves always being on the move and can not rest, not even for a day.

Lust, a piece by Lena Zak – available on Sauvage Gallery

Do you have particular influences? Who made you want to do what you are doing today? 

Except my grandfather who used to draw and portrait quite a lot, there isn't anyone particularly artistic in my family, so I think the influences only came from studying History of Art since high school, which I really enjoyed and was even intrigued to continue at the university. Since I was a child, I really enjoyed the work of Alphonse Mucha - I had quite a lot of his work on posters at home. During high school I enjoyed surrealism a lot and as I got older, I inclined to abstraction more and more. Right now I can say that studying works of Pollock, Franz Kline, Pierre Soulages, Joan Mitchell, Yves Klein and Cy Twombly was probably the most formative experience that led me to pursue my own path within the art world.

Can you tell us more about your process?

As I mentioned earlier, my process changed with me as my point of view changed during the pandemic, too. It is far more energetic with a less thinking, more making approach, to capture the emotions in all of their power and spontaneity in the most authentic way possible. Therefore these new works really come from the point of flow state where time ceases to exist, I let go of control and it's almost like the hands have a mind of their own. Resulting in brushstrokes that hardly could ever be replicated.

Lust (details), a piece by Lena Zak – available on Sauvage Gallery

What is your affinity with blue and black? You are working a lot with those ones! Are they easy to manipulate, or are there some traps to avoid?

I think that's a personal preference - style of sorts, that goes along the way with everything else visual in my life, from fashion to interior design. As opposed to many, for me black is definitely not a color of sadness or grief. For me personally, it is quite the opposite - it's elegant, bold, timeless and powerful… Capable of bringing all sorts of emotions. The depth of it is intriguing and never ending.

As for traps, I would say that simplicity is amongst the most difficult things to execute properly. So even though one would be using only 1 or 2 colors, it doesn't necessarily mean that the process will be easier as one aims to create a lot with just a little. So the composition plays an extremely important role here. Just try to imagine looking at the very colorful painting with a sort of black and white filter in front of your eyes. Would you still find it attractive if it was monochromatic? The colors are very powerful, so when using just one or two of them, one needs to find ways to make up for it. 

Under the Influence of Blood Supermoon, by Lena Zak – available on Sauvage Gallery

Are there any future projects that you can talk of, and what are you currently working on?

Well, I made a decision to take some time off both from exhibitions and Instagram to focus on my new works, as well as on moving to another city. Today I can proudly say that I just released several new artworks I've been working on for the past months, and they are available only via Sauvage Gallery! :) - I'm beyond excited to be amongst the first exclusive Sauvage Gallery artists, and I think the readers have a lot to look forward to! I'm also working to continue the series of my new paintings, of course. Last but not least, I'm moving to Lisbon, Portugal, and am looking forward to setting up a studio there, and expanding my network in the South of Europe. There will be a lot of changes and inspirations I'm sure! 

Thanks a lot to Lena for taking the time and providing us such a beautiful interview ! I also want to thank Lena for joining Sauvage Gallery officially, and being part of this new journey – I am very happy to work and I can't wait to see what will happen! Again, take some time to follow her on Instagram (@lenazak.art) and visit her website for more pieces.


Stay tuned for more contemporary, modern and abstract art content! Take care,

Anthony.