Horka Dolls

Horka Dolls: An Interview with Klaudia Gaugier


When you look at any of Klaudia's dolls, what do you see? Do you see a sinister creature staring back at you, or amidst its dark elements, do you see a glimpse of light? Klaudia Gaugier possesses a remarkable talent. Unnervingly beautiful and profoundly unique, her dolls speak great volumes. Fascinated with the duality of man, Klaudia creates her dolls in man's image. She reasons that what people see in her artwork says more about the viewer than it does about her. She forces you to think about your own relationship with the artwork, where you stand, where you are coming from, and how you have come to view her dolls in such a way. She makes you think - a sign of a truly engaging artist.

Klaudia, however, does not see herself as an artist. Not entirely comfortable with having to talk about herself, she views herself more as a creator of things. She refuses to be guided by expectations. Klaudia distances herself away from criticisms and complements of her work in order to remain true to her creations. She is honest about her artwork and has a deep understanding of the subjectivity that comes with the appreciation of any art form. In truth, Klaudia carries the mantra that only the creator's vision of her own work should matter in order to stay true to the subject. A brilliant and insightful individual, Klaudia who was concerned her English may need some corrections on my part expressed herself elaborately and honestly in this interview.

Forthright and bold about her work and herself, Klaudia offers a fascinating glimpse into her world while at the same time manages to remain an enigma. In the end, readers will more than likely read this interview and feel they have gotten to know her but the question of 'Who is Klaudia Gaugier?' will ultimately still flood the backs of readers' minds. Similar to her creations, Klaudia conveys an irresistible duality of transparency and mystery.

What inspires you?

First of all, the man, perceived as the coexistence of the body, mind and spirit. In Polish, the first letters of these three words form the word "cud", which means "miracle". Proportions of these three components or the lack of one of them is an endless source of inspiration for me. But so are the tales and legends, folk myths and stories - half-real, half-fantasy world filled with gods, humans, animals, plants, and spirits.

How and when did you first get started creating dolls?

One December's night I was working on Christmas ornaments. It was then that, among other decorations, I made the felt angels, the ones that surprised me with their expression, even though I used quite modest fabrics - material pinched with a thread and a few beads gave expressions to felt faces. Wow! I thought seeing some piece of felt looking at me and smile and started wondering what could happen if I would "leave the emotions" in clay and add an expressive body!!! I was tempted by the possibility of standing in the role of a demiurge and the ability to breath spirituality in an item - one achieved by the illusion of life expressed in the eyes, grimace or gesture. Thus, that's when the idea of dolls came to be, and on the next day I sculpted the first head. Then another one and more, one with a sad face, one scared, an anxious one, another amused with a smile all upon her face, frowning with the eyebrows pinched. The lumps of clay were turning into these emotions. It was fascinating.

What inspired you to take a dark/gothic theme?

I'm not trying to create dark and gothic themes on purpose. I'm fascinated by the duality of man. My dolls stand on the border of light and shadow. What you will see in them is dependent on you. They sometimes may say more about the recipient than the creator.

What is the hardest part about creating your artwork?

The most difficult task is to paint the eyes. I never use glass eyes. I paint them myself in a long and laborious process, putting subsequent layers of covering and glazing paints. All of this to put an illusion of life into them.

I like neither compliments or criticism - both are subjective assessment of the recipients, the interpretation of the image that they see through their own prism. In the process of creation I have to be faithful to myself. Only then it has true value.

Are you working on anything new at the moment?

Right now I'm preparing myself for two exhibitions and work without rest on the new dolls. I've decided to take on certain subjects for the first time and I myself am curious of the outcome.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

It may be surprising for some but I don't like exhibitions and I honestly hate talking about myself. I prefer to hide in the shadow of my puppets. :)

Do you admire any artists?

It's difficult to name specific artists. I admire works of art which evoke emotions. It's the main feature which draws my attention. It's those emotions and great craftsmanship - the ability to control the matter. It's these two qualities that I admire.

Can you tell me a bit more about your creations - the process you take to make them, what inspires you to create them?

Each of these dolls has been created in the image of a man and it is a perfect medium to demonstrate deepest feelings and emotions while at the same time leaving room for ambiguity. It's an ideal amalgamation of what is tangible with what you cannot touch but crave for. Dolls have that incredible inner power. They can be ridiculous or scary, have their own expression, personality, and thus evoke extreme feelings - here lies their phenomenon and it delights me. In each of them I enclose emotion, and its interpretation I leave to the recipient.

Favourite or most inspirational place in Poland?

Where I live :) I live in South West Poland in a place where an unambiguous flat land ends and begins marked with light and shadow - Sleza Massif - it has a unique landscape, specific microclimate and extraordinarily rich history shrouded in many legends.

What does being an artist mean to you?

I don't like being an artist, but I love being a creator. I have a feeling that the ability to create is something most noble in man, the purest divine principle.

Hardest lesson you have ever had to learn as an artist?

Having humility towards the matter that you need to learn to be able to imprint your idea in it.

What would you say is the best complement/constructive criticism/advice you have ever received as an artist?

I like neither compliments or criticism - both are subjective assessment of the recipients, the interpretation of the image that they see through their own prism. In the process of creation I have to be faithful to myself. Only then it has true value.

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