The Artist Interview: Bartosz Beda
Artist Interview Bartosz Beda
Why do you paint?
Firstly, Thank you very much for this Artist Interview, Because I love it. This is my one thing that I can’t stop doing. I think about it when I go to bed and when I wake up in the morning. When I go for lunch, I think about painting. When I see my wife, I talk about my studio work. If I don’t paint for more than three days, I go crazy. I paint because I believe that my art can bring change to the painting world. Through painting, I can make a diﬀerence. I don’t paint for money, but I also believe that the myth of a starving Van Gogh artist should be put in orbit. When I announced as a kid to my mum that I wanted to be an artist, she smiled and explained that it is not an easy path. But I have followed my passion, my intuition.
Where did you train and what place of learning had the biggest eﬀect on your work or creativity?
I went to Private Secondary Fine Art School in Poland where I was trained with traditional ﬁne art techniques in painting, drawing and sculpture. In 2008, I moved to the UK to study BA and MA in Fine art at Manchester Metropolitan University where I was challenged with a more conceptual side of my art. Before that, I worked in a movie industry. I worked on the production of ‘Peter and The Wolf’, which was awarded an Oscar.
I don’t think that there was any particular place that had a big eﬀect on my work. It takes a combination of many diﬀerent experiences and of sensibility for the subject matter and quality of painting surface that informs an artist and opens up the most satisfying potential for the art. Overall, when I think about my experience with education, I think that exposure to diﬀerent cultures is the best inﬂuence on creativity and what I’ve learned in all these various places is responsible for the kind of art I do.
There is a lot of hidden subtext within your work. Could you tell us more?
When I paint a portrait of a girl or ﬁgure on the painting and I won’t give any explanation, people think that this is a random representation of people painted from photographs. I believe that the surface of the painting and the quality of the brushstrokes help them enjoy the work without thinking much about the subject matter itself. That is something that makes me feel good. Sometimes in art, I see good concepts without particular good execution – maybe purposely, I don’t know. When I made the series of portraits titled “Neither Brothers, Neither Sister,” I was inspired by a story of Dr Mengele, known also as Angel of Death. The story goes back to the Second World War when Dr Mengele was pointing his ﬁnger left or right at the people in Auschwitz. Those on the right had a chance to survive. It was a random selection. The real reason for him to sit there was to ﬁnd twins, sisters or brothers, that he could use for his sick experiments. This was my starting point — to look for images of twins. My story doesn’t end there. When I was doing research about it, the UK decided about Bretx, and the USA was about to elect Trump for the next President of the United States. I found those two events weirdly connected. I almost felt like it all was planned. In fact, I painted Trump with a big penis on his face. I just got angry. I stayed up till 5 am hoping that he wouldn’t win. He won. I painted the moment. Those two events, Brexit and Trump, represented two diﬀerent realities that show the same populist face. I thought that I could represent that through a representation of twins, as they metaphorically speaking are not brothers or twins. This is like an illusion of everything that I know about this world. The same one face, but two diﬀerent realities.
A lot of your work has political overtones; how do you feel about where Europe seems to be heading at the moment?
We forgot the past, and history starts repeating itself. When I think about it, I don’t remember any war or conﬂict that I had to participate in. I think that this makes people feel like no matter what they do or how they vote, there won’t have to experience any war personally. So, they vote without seeing a bigger picture. I am not a politician or expert in this ﬁeld, but I think that if France will elect the government that will lead toward the Frexit, it will be the end of European Union. Even looking at what is happening in Poland right now makes me think that the
direction is toward the Soviet Union doctrine of the past.
Can you tell us more about the new works: Ten Starts From One…
‘The Person of the Year’ painting is my reﬂecton on political changes that took place in the United States and opens my new series of paintings that I call Ten Starts from One. Through the title of the series, I am trying to say that the number ten has its beginning from number one. Recently, around the world, it seems to me we have been following the trends that distract us away from thinking about the global village and have begun to create new walls between on intolerance.
I often explore political issues in my work. I am interested in how art can expose hidden meanings in the political arena. Perhaps my paintings can educate and open eyes to problems and issues that are not spoken out loud. I try to depict social concerns, political events, and/or historical references while utilizing images from the media.
Ten Starts from One incorporates all four of these components in a single series with a terrifying message.
One of the paintings from this series shows working class women that refer to Trump’s derogatory attitude toward them. I searched for old propaganda posters from the communist era that depicted working women with slogans that encouraging them to work for the prosperity of the Soviet Union. I thought that this would reﬂect a new movement of women who protest against Trump’s attitude.
The painting with a male ﬁgure in it was inspired by John White’s performance ‘Autobiographical Fantasies’, In his performance, he was dealing with concerns of how we perceive space and ourselves in that space. He also involved himself with the audience incorporating sound and language. I painted him surrounded by oval shapes. I was inspired how he worked with a given physical space that is something much bigger than just present space. I see myself sitting on a chair, then I see the city I live in, the country, the continent, and go beyond that until I reach inﬁnity. In between all this are the thoughts that created Trump. It all started with just small physical space that created a chain of thoughts that do not necessarily lead the country toward a more humane direction. I am not talking just about the United States. In other words, small things can grow into something much bigger that no single person cannot control anymore.
3-dimensional sculptural works could you explain?
I am excited about the sculptural painting, which I call three-dimensional interactive painting. The project is intended to extend my practice beyond two-dimensional work and explore figure and portrait painting in a new form. These interactive paintings can serve as an intellectual puzzle and provide a new experience with painting for viewers. I call these paintings ‘Reverse Power’, as they refer to the overwhelming symbolism of pyramid power in our pop culture. This idea came to me when I moved to the United States. The paintings contain the pyramid shape that refers to the pyramid of social status with an eye that can be found on the back of US paper money. Through the
creation of pyramidical paintings, I want to reverse that symbol of power and bring attention back to the people.
Each piece will have a square base with four triangular sides. For now, I plan to create
twelve pieces that vary in size. Their sizes will range from 100cm x 50cm to 200cm x 100cm. Each set of four pieces will oﬀer a diﬀerent physical experience.
This project will take my painting to a new level and allow me to express my vision through a new form of painting. It will require new materials to create this work and bring the painting oﬀ the wall, not limited by a two-dimensional surface. The initial idea for this project came from my experience as a painter and visual artist. I am excited for art audiences to experience this diﬀerent kind of involvement with physical space by bringing the painting to architectural structures with sharp lines and very smooth surfaces. The contrast of hard straight edges and ﬂat surfaces with the soft organic human body images can create a new way of seeing. As the human form/image wraps around the triangular structure, its presence is modified and can be viewed in diﬀerent combinations.
What oil paints do you use?
I mostly use Old Hollands. I really like the richness of the pigment as well as a colour pallet they created.
What canvas and do you stretch your own?
It is a cotton canvas, which is very fine. It is also good for a very smooth surface. stretched my canvases myself. When I know that I will be using a traditional rabbit skin glue for primer, then I don’t stretch the canvas that tight.
What is the inspiration, the driving force?
I am inspired by many things. I would compare that to cycling workout at the gym. When you exercise, you don’t stay on the same resistance for an hour. The resistance challenges you to the point that you feel pain. That’s how you know that you grow. It is the same with driving force. It is inspiring to be challenged by painting and that is
my both inspiration and driving force.
What’s your top tip for someone wanting to start oil painting?
Hard work. Nothing comes easy. Oil painting has endless possibilities and I believe that there is still a lot to discover.
Do you have a favourite Artist?
I don’t have favourite artists right now. I check artists on a daily basis as I want to know what is happening in the art world. I used to had my favourite artists, but I found that if I like something too much then you become that thing. I want to keep my painting fresh and unique.
First experience of an art gallery.
I think that my first big experience with art gallery was in Poland. As a student, I was visiting every Saturday the Museum of Contemporary Art in my hometown, Lodz. It was a very good experience that shaped my thoughts about conceptual painting and painting in general.
You changed your style a while ago, what was the reason?
I graduated in 2012 and after that, I had a scholarship in Dresden Academy of Arts in Germany, so technically I can say that I completed my education in 2013. I still emerged with my art and with the ways I want to paint. When I was a student I was under inﬂuence of other contemporary artists, but slowly I want to make a diﬀerence. It is important to be able to explore new ways of painting. That’s what makes me a painter. I know that I am very good in painting abstract portraits and that is something I am good at, but it is important for me to stay fresh and inspired.
Can you tell us more about the catalogue and where it is available from?
I would like to create a catalogue that will feature works from the past three years with essays by the Dean of Eastern Washington University, Kyunghee Pyun, an art historian and critique from New York and a foreword by Georgia Tiﬀany, writer and poet. It will be available through Amazon and various stores as well as Zebra One Gallery, I have another Artist Interview on Execute Magazine my online magazine for artists and creatives in all fields.
Last book you read?
I read a few books simultaneously. The last book I read was ‘Power’ by Robert Greene. At the moment I am reading ‘A Life of Seneca’ by Emily Wilson.
A link to buy Bartosz Beda’s fantastic Art Book
link to The Artists Instagram Account
Artist Interview Bartosz Beda