Unreal City

The Architect Bringing His Craft to Surreal Watercolours

Tytus Brzozowski is a modern-day Renaissance man. Not content with just being an architect (no mean feat), he is also a keen painter, in particular favouring the medium of watercolour. His creations are hardly your average paint-by-numbers. Instead his architectural background is keenly felt, as he presents a dreamlike city. Not just any city, but his hometown of Warsaw. He tells us how he is particularly drawn to Warsaw because it is “a city of a very tough history, it’s a place whose beauty is not easy and not obvious, but because it’s difficult, it can be much more interesting and full of surprises.”


It is the sheer detail of Tytus’ work that strikes you. His paintings are dynamic, and rammed full of buildings and constructions. On a closer look you will see small surreal details like hot air balloons carrying pianos, or teapots populating the landscape. It is this attention to the small stuff which brings his paintings to life, creating a fairytale city you can get lost in. Tytus describes how the abstract elements of his paintings were a reaction to his practical background in architecture: “spending years on painting real places exactly how they look like, I made the decision to start to change the space, making places my own by adding some of imagination in my watercolours.”


For Tytus, art and architecture are one and the same. He tells us that “both my paintings and the buildings that I used to work on come from the passion for the city, its character, and history.” The result is a beautifully constructed alternate world.


Tytus’ city dreamscape is more fairytale than reality, so we sat down with him to find out a bit more.

The Plus: Can you tell us a bit about your latest watercolour series – what is the inspiration behind it?
Tytus Brzozowski:
I’m under the great influence from the city –how it works, and how it changes over time. In my watercolours I search for the mood and character of my hometown.

TP: What do you think is the relationship between architecture and watercolour? Are there many similarities or differences?
I believe the two things are related. Both in architecture and in watercolor I focus on texture, mood and light. It comes from my way of seeing as an architect, from my passion to explore the city’s mood, and also from my education. Warsaw school of architecture pays great attention to drawing and arts.


TP: How did you first get into watercolour?
My first paintings come from when I used to prepare myself for entrance exams to university. After that, I started to paint a lot. I made several journeys with my friends, learning the basics of nature – such as light and shadow, reflections, colours, perspective.


TP: How do you balance architecture and art?
For many years architecture was the most important thing for me, but this is changing. For over a one year I have put stronger pressure on my watercolour paintings, making it the most important element of my career.


TP: What is it that you love about Warsaw in particular?
Through knowing a little bit of Warsaw’s history and local tradition, learning about the city, searching for beautiful, but often hidden places, you can get completely new point of view. This is what I admire in Warsaw, what makes it so interesting, and what I want to show in my paintings.


TP: Insights about the dreamlike nature of your paintings eg. buildings on stilts, teapots floating through the air?
TB: I used to admire paintings with lots of elements and stories. I love to search for hidden threads and I want to make this kind of atmosphere in my paintings too. I love seeing people looking carefully on my pictures, searching for hidden, fantastic elements. And above all of theis, this kind of mood, full of unexpected events, is very close to the image of central European cities such Warsaw. I believe that my dreamlike ideas work well with the character of my hometown.


TP: What other artists or architects inspire you?
My favourite painter is Peter Bruegel. His paintings are great inspiration for me. I simply love the dozens of characters doing so many things and having their own stories. You can spend hours watching and learning the truth about Bruegel’s times. In architecture I admire modest and elegant design. I highly respect Swiss architecture with well known architects like Peter Zumthor or Dietmar Eberle.


TP: What projects do you have coming up in 2016?
I will still work on my main theme – searching for the atmosphere of the dreamlike city. I plan to prepare a picture book for kids. My pictures are children friendly, and my plan is to prepare a series of watercolours full of fantastic elements and hidden events to create a book that will have strong impact on children’s imagination.