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Kolbusz > A Bold Abstraction

by Jo Abbie

FRESH Apr/May 2000

Entering the home studio of artist Waldemar Kolbusz is an experience in colour. Inside this seemingly sedate residence lies a virtual tidal wave of brilliant tones and hues. Kolbusz’s vivid and dramatic compositions positively saturate the senses. These are not paintings that scream obnoxiously for attention, but they do pulsate and resonate with colour, and when their boldness catches the eye, the eye is unlikely to wander.

His attraction to the abstract form came when Kolbusz became increasingly bored with creating lifelike depictions of buildings, bridges and other inanimate objects. Instead, he found a challenge in the task of painting life into seemingly inanimate patches of colour. Kolbusz’s work is geometric, almost boxy in style, but his bold use of colour infuses these shapes with movement and vigour, almost daring the eye to dart around the canvas. “The work is changing all the time, but this abstract series is something I will do forever, and I will always be challenged by, because each painting is so different,” states Kolbusz.

It was his exposure to works by the New York School of artists such as Rothko, Klein and Motherwell that saw Kolbusz progress from a pleasant crush to an utter infatuation with the abstract form. “It was just work that blew me away,” recalls Kolbusz. “Motherwell’s work, it’s just huge pieces and all of it is just colour, say, a whole red painting with a tiny splash of blue in the corner. And that stuff has always really intimidated me, just because it overwhelmed me. I couldn’t understand why these images were so powerful with visually so few elements. But it isn’t until you start dabbling in painting them, or painting non-representational things, that you realise how difficult it is to get a piece with very little on there that will actually be an interesting piece compositionally, without people just walking past but actually wanting to stare at it for a while. So that becomes a challenge.”

It is a challenge the artist has certainly lived up to, with his works generating a huge amount of interest both here in Australia and in the cut-throat art world of New-York. Kolbusz’s work has become highly sought after, with everyone from architectural firms and chic restaurants to the style gurus at Vogue Living magazine snapping up his vivid and energetic compositions.

Like any artist, Kolbusz has to part with his creations to make a living, and sentimentality is bound to creep in. But Kolbusz takes a positive view of the reality of the art world, that art is a commodity to be bought and sold. “I think it’s a real buzz when people respond to my work. It’s nice when people have one and they love it, and I know that they love it. I guess it just proves to me that what I’m trying to achieve by generating an original awareness of colour is working. If someone is prepared to actually buy it, it kinds of adds closure to the process, and it inspires me to then do more.”

“I really do paint for people and for an audience. It is work for people – to excite them or invigorate them or energise them.” Indeed, it is difficult not to be seduced and uplifted by the splendid arrangements of colour and shape that stem from the brushes of Waldemar Kolbusz.