14 May 2011

Karl Bielik


Can you briefly describe what you do?

I make oil paintings on canvas and board, alongside this watercolours, inks, drawings and collages on cardboard and paper.

What drives you to make work?

I chose to paint 15 years ago and I am going to stick with it, it’s a long road to become a painter and I’ve got some distance to go. The feeling that painting is a frustrating and fruitless exercise is never that far away - but when one comes together it makes the hanging-in-there worthwhile.

Can you tell me something of your day-to-day working practices?

I keep long and irregular studio hours. I begin by looking for connections between some of the 30 or so paintings which scatter my studio walls, floors and tables. I move paintings around to form smaller more digestible groupings, turn them upside down, turn some to the wall and decide where to start. I’ll choose a painting, a colour and mix some paint and start to change things, paint over ones that aren’t working, scrape the paint off of others and start the process again. The works feed each other and slowly start to form connections, which offer temporary solutions to problems and then themselves become problems further down the line. My paintings have no hard and fast direction and while sometimes making a painting can be quick process, others will take months. The ones that I cannot find anyway of adding to and don’t destroy, will be moved around the studio untouched until I realize they are completed. If I can’t find a place to begin a painting I will start making some marks on some old card or paper knocking around the studio, or just sit, look, think, drink, smoke or read, till I can work out what needs doing.

How long have you been working in that way?

It is around 6 years since I stopped using words and collage in my painting, reduced the scale of my work and started working in oils. Before that my studio was in my flat, or my flat was in my studio and I had a totally different approach to making work.

Which artists have had the greatest affect on your work?

Kurt Schwitters - as a 20 year old ex-electrician and drifting graphic design student who was making collages from found materials, my tutor Charlie Laycock told me to go to the library and look at his work. That started things rolling(slowly) and during the following years I made some work but was never truly focused on it until I had my first studio at the age of 28. Since then the list of artists I like is long but recently Diebenkorn, Sillman, Baselitz, Kippenberger, Tarkovsky, Ballard, Bukowski, The Fall and Daniel Johnston.

What, outside visual art, informs your practice?

Everything but nothing directly, bar photographs I take that can offer me a way into a new painting, an iron gate, a rust stained walls, washing lines - the photographs only function is as a starting point. Film, literature and music play a huge part in my life and may somehow inform my work. I also make music under the name Lark which functions as a solo project and a live band, we have had a full band album and singles released on Care and the Community Records, which is being followed up by a solo album release sometime in the next few months.

How would you like people to engage with your work?

First of all by looking and then they can take that where they want… preferably by discussing, exhibiting, publishing and buying it.

Have you seen anything recently that has made an impression?

Paintings in recent London shows by Varda Caivano, Patrick Galway, Philip Allen and Pheobe Unwin.  The films of Bela Tarr and Wim Wenders.

Do you have anything exciting on the horizon?

A group show at The Drawers Gallery in London in October this year. The people at ‘Abstract Critical’ saw my work in the Marmite Painting Prize have been to my studio and filmed a documentary on my work which once edited will be online in the coming months. Phyllida Barlow has chosen my painting ‘Father’ for the Creekside Open 2011 in June. An Artist in Prague, where I lived some years back, is going to curate a solo show of my work in November this year. The 6th Terrace Annual is a one day show I curate, it is held outdoors on former wasteland at the back of my studio and will be on Saturday August 27th this year. Painting.