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How Polish rapper Michal Zytniak is conquering Europe with his unique paintings

Updated: Mar 23, 2023

Michał Żytniak (ŻYTO), a talented musician and rap performer, after having conquered the Polish music scene, has begun to win the hearts of his fans with his original paintings. His creativity is distinguished by boldness, brashness, and naturalness; in his lyrics, Żyto is not afraid to raise strong controversial topics of everyday urban life.

His sharp words, stating the directness and spontaneity, expressing the author's authenticity, have also been noticed by the largest hip-hop labels in Poland - Asfalt Records and Prosto. Despite his thriving musical career and the promotion of the latest album "Morza południowe" ("Southern seas") made with the legendary Polish producer Noon, ŻYTO is successfully improving his painting skills. Moreover, the artist has created his own exceptional style, PAG. Many Polish celebrities fell in love with his truthful and expressive paintings. But the artist does not stop there either.

How does Michał Żytniak manage to masterfully combine his musical and artistic career? What does the artist think of such an integral part of urban culture as street art? How do the themes stirring conflicting emotions like sex, drug use, and banditry naturally fit into his artwork? And for whom of the world celebrities ŻYTO would like to create his paintings? You can find out about this by reading an interview with a really cool, authentic artist who is not afraid to demonstrate the whole truth of city life in his music and paintings.

Yuliana Arles: Your artistic career started in 2012 with rap music. Your harsh lyrics still tell the truth about street life without any censorship or filters. Then, in 2015, you began to reflect the whole truth of modern life in painting. The threads of your paintings cover quite controversial topics, such as sex, drug use and banditry. Tell me why did you choose the street life theme with all its dark sides in your artwork? Which way of expressing your observations and thoughts is more expressive to you: music or painting?

Michał Żytniak (ŻYTO): Let me start from the end. For me personally, the power of message is still more impressive in music, it penetrates into me more strongly, and I feel it deeper.

As for the processes themselves, they are somehow similar. Lyrics and images appear spontaneously, as if in one breath. I do not like to think about them for a long time, digest and constantly correct them. This is a kind of charge of energy that emanates from me.

It also happens with inspiration that comes spontaneously. Sometimes it's just a photo or a conversation, sometimes an event that someone is telling me about, or something from my own experience. Besides, when it comes to drawing, I like to use my travel photos.

As for the theme of my lyrics and paintings, sex, drugs or any other actions for me, they are not controversial at all, this is a normal part of life in the city.

Yuliana Arles: Can you tell us more about how ideas for your paintings come about?

Michał Żytniak (ŻYTO): It's always different. Sometimes I wake up with a ready idea for artwork. At certain times, when I just sit in front of a blank canvas and draw a shape, everything else appears in the process. It may even be a slogan that comes to my mind, and I can draw a picture based on it.

Yuliana Arles: Returning to your musical career. Recently, you have recorded a new album, „Morza południowe” ("Southern seas") with the legendary Polish producer Noon. In the video for the song "Ciecz" (“Liquid”) you showed the moments of creating your paintings. How do you feel about the combination of these two processes: rap making and painting pictures? Do you plan to use this synergy of art and music in some way?

Michał Żytniak (ŻYTO): As for our video with Noon, everything is simple. It looks cool, so we added an element of creating my paintings in the video. I think that definitely painting or graphics can also look nice on an album cover. Besides, I'm drawing very well while listening to my music. One element helps the other to move forward.

You know, Yuliana, now I have a lot of orders for paintings, and I also have to devote a lot of time to music. So, as for the plans, maybe a few paintings on the album covers and that's all for now.

Yuliana Arles: It should be noted that during the development of your musical career, you have received a lot of support from the largest hip-hop labels in Poland - Asfalt Records and Prosto. What about painting? How do you reach the audience with your art? In your opinion, is a similar type of support necessary in the development of a painting career?

Michał Żytniak (ŻYTO): The promotion of my painting looks completely different. Most of my sales go through Instagram and, of course, word of mouth helps. However, I recently put up one painting for an art and design auction organized by Art info, and it sold well enough.

I am not from this world of art, that is why, I go my own way. Although recently I received an offer to hold a personal exhibition in a very good gallery. I don’t want to talk about it now, as we are in the preparation stage.

Yuliana Arles: Going back to the plots and painting techniques, it is easy to see that all your paintings have a certain characteristic style. You apply the paint with separate large strokes, paying great attention to the color, and the deliberate simplification of the form and distortion of the linear perspective, adding extra expressiveness to your works. Can you define the style of your painting? Why did you choose this way of expressing yourself on the canvas?

Michał Żytniak (ŻYTO): A friend of mine once said that this painting is Primitive Abstract Geometric Figure, in short PAG.

I really liked this definition. As for why I am drawing this way, this is just my style of expression. This is all me.

In my life there were no professors, no other teachers, no consultants. I did not follow the trends of the art market. I just started painting, and this is what came of it.

Yuliana Arles: What techniques and materials do you use to create your artworks? Do you plan to continue to stick to your recognizable style, or do you leave room for experimentation?

Michał Żytniak (ŻYTO): I am using acrylic canvas spray. I don't feel like I have to use all the possibilities of this combination yet, so in most cases these will be simple geometric images. Combinations that are too complex distort the power of the message. Recently, I wanted to draw large formats and moreover, I can do it.

Yuliana Arles: In terms of city life and art, I would like to ask you about an integral part of urban culture — street art. Have you ever had the experience of creating murals? If so, where can they be found and do they contain messages to a mass random viewer?

Michał Żytniak (ŻYTO): In my opinion, street art is an integral part of city life. It is real art for a city dweller. I also have experience in creating several murals. One in the city of Gdańsk, as well as at the Legia Stadium in Warsaw.

I have painted several hairdressing salons at the Libero Gallery in Katowice, and now I am going to paint another wall in Warsaw.

Yuliana Arles: As far as I know, you also do commission paintings. Do you have a specific way that helps you understand and recreate the different requirements of your customers on the canvas?

Michał Żytniak (ŻYTO): I try to understand the wishes of my clients. I also ask them to give me as many details as possible. As I said earlier, they mostly find me through Instagram.

I ask them to show me which colors they prefer or which of my artworks they like the most. Sometimes clients add certain hashtags to the order. This information is enough for me, then I just sit down and paint an artwork, like all other paintings :)

Yuliana Arles: Among the buyers of your paintings are many famous people from the Polish music scene, such as Paluch, Pezet, Kękę, Miuosh, Rau or Julia Wieniawa. Who of the world's celebrities would you like to paint a picture for?

Michał Żytniak (ŻYTO): Ideally, every world celebrity should have 5 of my paintings.

Yuliana Arles: How do you see your future activities? Are you planning to give preference to painting or music in the future? Or maybe you see a great combination of these two career paths in some extraordinary project? What can your fans expect from you in the near future?

Michał Żytniak (ŻYTO): At this stage of my life, painting is my priority. But at the same time, I will continue to make music, but more for fun. Now I am planning to enter the Western art market.

I am going to organize a trip to galleries in Europe, to take part in various art fairs.

If we talk about Poland, I am planning a large personal exhibition in Warsaw in the near future.

Regarding music, I am currently working on a movie soundtrack with one of a famous Polish music producers, and I am considering entering the metaverse by creating my own NFT. I can tell you more about it soon.


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