Natalia Bimer

author biographical note degree piece


Gyotaku is a traditional Japanese art of printing fish on paper. In the past, Japanese people painted fish with ink and wrapped it in tissue paper to preserve its image forever. It was a kind of tribute to the animal before it became a dish or a trophy for the hunter-artist. Only a Japanese, living in harmony with nature and fascinated by its beauty, could come up with the idea of using fish as a matrix. The effect of this action are prints of unspeakable nobility and beauty. I feel great joy and pride that gyotaku has become an integral part of my piece.

Today fish, in straightforward thinking, for man is mostly food, or decoration. For me the subject of food is difficult and extremely personal. On the one hand it is my great passion and love, on the other a curse. This work has evolved for various personal reasons. I do not know where this fascination came from, but since I was a kid I have sculpted, drawn, painted and made fish in all possible ways. The symbolism of this animal is endless. The fish was attributed to various deities and warriors. In various myths and beliefs, it signified the human soul, the food, the way through life. It symbolized one of the main pillars of the world, and also the spirit lost in the primordial ocean. The fisherman was, therefore, a symbolic saviour and guide, for he fished a lost soul from the abyss.

Developing a degree piece is a breakthrough moment. A kind of “birth of the artist”. Of course I am just teasing and say it with a lot of irony, but surely the degree piece ends a certain stage of life of a young artist and is the start of a new one. I had to go deeply into the very idea of the degree piece and combine it somehow with my very personal story. By analyzing this mysterious fish inside of me and the gyotaku motif, I began to decompose it all, and came to the conclusion that in my degree piece I would use the fish scale as a guiding theme. As what are scales for the fish? It is a shield, protective layer, armour. Like armour for a knight, like a cocoon for a pupa, like eating for me for many years of my growing up. My work is called Metamorphosis and combines all the issues I described above. It is an abstract object whose individual elements are closely related to my life and the accompanying emotions. Of course the most important is the shape, or cocoon. It symbolizes the process of transformation, birth and growing-up. It provides a protective layer against the outside world. It presents a kind of isolation, a focus on our own problems and values within us.

Carefully selected pieces of fish prints on thin, translucent Japanese rice paper, specifically those that represent the fish scales, have been glued to the openwork form of the cocoon. Thanks to the transparency of the material on which the prints were made, the cocoon inside is well lit, therefore the key element of the work is its interior. Through a tiny hole you can look inside, where my cast is, made by 3D printing. Thirty-centimetre-tall figure in foetal position. Little Natka curled up inside her own cocoon.

The whole is a picture of my existence. It is my private cocoon that protects me from the outside world, but not from myself. It is a process of growing up and my internal journey. When you come closer, my face will appear.

(born 1992)
Studies: Faculty of Graphic Arts of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw (2014–2017). Fields of artistic activity: printmaking, illustration, computer graphic design. Works as freelance graphic designer, collaborates with advertising and event agencies, illustrator for “Przekrój” quarterly.