There is plenty of talk in art circles about how relinquishing control is an important step in an artist’s development. Not all artists find this easy. Perth-born Waldemar Kolbusz does it more successfully than some artists – perhaps because he is mainly self-taught – although he admits to some trepidation. “Letting go of the control is bandied about often by artists, but it is difficult and risky,” says Kolbusz. “However, because my work involves spontaneous aspects and expressionistic gestures, it often feels independent of me and my influence. It is this process I am becoming more and more interested in, the idea that the painting has identity and integrity of its own, as opposed to being only a reflection of the artist.”
Born to Polish parents, Kolbusz’s work reflects his Eastern European energy, yet he also remains painterly and expressionistic. His energy creates movement and tension on his colourful canvas. He is also a dedicated and emotional colourist and there is a deliberate balance between his strong, carefully selected palette and the emotion or expression he wants to convey.
A noticeable rhythm also works its way across the canvas, with each work bearing clarity and definition.
Kolbusz took time to reach this stage. As a young man he abandoned visual arts studies at the University of WA and graduated instead with a Bachelor of Commerce degree. After completing post-graduate commerce studies in 1999, he reversed to begin painting full-time. Kolbusz has since established a strong exhibition record, having shown in New York, Singapore, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Broome.
His new series ‘Squeezebox’, is on show at Anthea Polson Art at Main Beach and exemplifies his style of ‘letting go’ into free expression and intuitive movement. “I am now addicted to not anticipating the end result,” he explains. “It is me who produces the work, but increasingly I experience itas a viewer more than a creator. This puts an interesting spin on the creative process and helps maintain healthy enthusiasm.”
Kolbusz’s work is not pre-planned. There are no sketches. It is also non-representational, so there are no studies of a potential subject. “I begin the work by marking the canvas haphazardly, with just a few general and very spontaneous crops of colour or lines,” he says. The work is then left to dry while he works on other pieces.
“After a few days I will consider the work more intently and begin the painting process,” he says. “I always hope to be surprised and challenged by the few marks that are there. They kind of happened with little thought, so i feel as if they are really without my influence. This forms the springboard for the work and it can then broadly dictate the palette and the feel of where the work might head. Of course, things can move from this at any time.”
As much as this may sound very relaxed, the truth is otherwise. When Kolbusz finds a work becoming contrived or predictable, he takes the risk of spontaneous change. “sometimes it lifts the work; sometimes it compromises it beyond repair,” he says.