In the lead up to Waldemar Kolbusz’ April/May exhibition, Love is Back, we took some time out to catch up with him on zoom, to chat and see some of his works in progress in his Perth studio. We thought you might like to see them too.

GS: Hi from afar Waldemar! While we can’t visit your studio in person, we’d like to understand the environment in which you work. Tell us about your studio space, the space you call KolbuszSpace.

WK : KolbuszSpace was built in 2019 in a former inner-city industrial precinct of Perth, to be a multi-purpose studio, gallery and project space under my direction.

Previously I had mainly worked from home studios, but I felt I wanted more community involvement and to help energise positive outcomes for emerging artists with a regular monthly program of exhibitions. Moving across into mentoring and curating has advanced my own practice – I am taking more risks and considering whether I care about how my work might fit in a broader context.

GS: We all know that 2020 and 2021 have been hard years for some, but your upcoming show Love is Back appears to be full of optimism and the statement conjures a sense of relief. Is that true and why did you give your show this title?

WK: I am interested in my actual experience of something and then the human ideal experience of that something and how we ping between the two.

Am I so coloured by the marketed potential, that I willingly give in to it at the expense of my lived experience? I think about the loss of integrity, even the loss of identity if we can’t be sure our feelings are our own anymore. Love is Back is about reclaiming a tighter hold on those.

GS: Swimming pools, palm trees and rich palettes dominate this work, and I wonder if the works are observations or comments on unattainable idealism. What do you want us to consider when looking at these works?

WK: I want my pictures to allude to a sort of perfection of lifestyle, but I want there to be recognition of a subtle tension, a mood, some static. I want you to be ok with nothing being perfect.

GS: One of the things that we love about your work is the oscillation between abstraction and more figurative painting. You are one of the few artists who does this (and the artist who does it most successfully). Tell us why you work this way, and how do you develop your abstract compositions?

WK: Thanks but frankly, I’m not good at figurative painting in the sense that I wouldn’t be able to necessarily paint something as I may imagine it, so I have developed a way of always working with what has appeared or just happened. This two-way response is something I have honed from my abstractions, where that dialogue is crucial. While I have a sense of where I need my figurative works to head towards to convey something from a photo I have taken or pulled from social media, my abstract works are in charge of revealing themselves. Both modes are exercises in acceptance for me.