by Jay Hanna, STM MAGAZINE

WA artist Waldemar Kolbusz is no slouch when it comes to fashion. His slightly windswept Hamptons style has landed him on several local best-dressed lists over the years, but it wasn’t his flair for fashion that caught the eye of local designer Aurelio Costarella.
Rather, Costarella thought Kolbusz’s bold expressionistic art would provide the perfect backdrop for the designer’s colourful summer 13/14 collection, which will be unveiled at Mercedez-Benz Fashion Week Australia in Sydney tomorrow.

“Being Perth boys, Ray (Costarella) and I have known each other for ages and obviously I’ve known of his work and he’s known mine,” Kolbusz says. “When he approached me about working together I jumped at the chance because i thought it would be really good fun. I was just feeling that I’d like to do more thigs with my art and then this fell into place. I’ve never really done anything like this before so it was exciting for me.”

Colour is what unites Kolbusz’s large-scale abstract canvases and Costarella’s summer collection. Costarella wanted to mark his 30th year in the fashion industry with a bright palette, while Kolbusz, whose art graces international art collections and the walls of five-star hotels around the world, says his work is “all to do with colour really”.

“My art is essentially colour, but this isa bit of a departure for Ray. He hasn’t really used a lot of colour in his collections before,” Kolbusz says. “Creatively, I was most interested in what Ray’s departure was and what he was doing that was new and different. Apart from that and understanding his new palettes, the rest wasn’t really discussed. We left each other to our own devices knowing it would all work well together.”

A former accountant, Kolbusz ditched his day job in 1996 to concentrate on balancing colours rather than ledgers. His love of abstract art was intensified when he took a trip to Tokyo and encountered the work of the New York School of artists including Rothko and Motherwell.

“When I saw those pieces for the first time in the flesh it changed everything for me,” he says. “I realised that was how I wanted to paint.”

Costarella, who has long been a fan of Kolbusz’s work, says he thinks the collaboration for the show was a perfect synergy of fashion and art.

“Waldemar interpreted my summer 13/14 palette into an energetic tapestry of texture, shapes and colour,” he says.
A fashion show with a difference, their unique interactive installation will be presented at Carriageworks in Sydney, featuring three small theatrical sets created around Kolbusz’s trio of 280cm x 180cm freestanding canvases. Models will move from set to set, with one acting as a photographic studio. The show will also include a time-lapse film, projected on to a wall in the venue, featuring a behind-the-scenes look at Kolbusz’s artistic process as he worked on the canvases.

WA songstress Grace Woodroofe will perform live at the event, adding yet another creative layer.
“It’s pretty cool when people from different creative fields get together. It changes your work a bit,” Kolbusz says.