by Jackqueline Houghton

Perth-based Waldemar Kolbusz creates jewell-hued, nonrepresentational images that are intrinsically satisfying. His purpose is not to create a picture of something, the picture must be something – a kind of organism that lives according to its own law. With the relinquishment of the storytelling function, the artist becomes a kind of intuitive investigator of form, colour and painterly technique. My work often feels quite independent of me. I am becoming more and more interested in how a painting has an identity and integrity of its own as opposed to it being only a reflection of the artist,” muses Kolbusz. “Squeezebox is a funny name for a funny instrument. It too has a life of its own.”

Kolbusz’ language of pure abstraction speaks fluently to the senses. Geometry and gesture converge in a symphony of hypnotic brilliant hues, luminous glazes, earthy dark stains, splashes and trickles. He has learned to trust his own instinctive impulses: “My work is not planned, there are no preliminary sketches. I try not to anticipate the end result which in reality, is a difficult and often precarious task. After a few spontaneous, gestural brushstrokes to christen the canvas, I leave it and come back after a few days. Up on the easel I consider the work more intently, always hoping to be surprised and challenged by the marks there.”

Kolbusz says that “looking” is a big part of his painting process. The initial, unpremeditated brush-markings give him a feel for where the work might head and prompts palette choice. He readily accepts that direction might change at any time – and usually does as colours and shapes begin to assert an independent existence. The outcome is the result of Kolbusz’ innate sense for an aesthetic order that incorporates unplanned ‘accidents’. “I always use oils because they are creamy and have a materiality,” he enthuses. “You can move the paint, feel it. The new palettes are looser, riskier and sit at the extremes, I want them to either lullaby the viewer or scream at them – nothing in between.”

Those hovering, ragged shapes of saturated colour do indeed trigger powerful emotional responses, but there is also a cognitive pleasure to be had in lingering over Kolbusz’ chromatic orchestrations. Once we abandon the notion that good art is the skillful imitation of appearances, we are able to enjoy perception itself. True excellence lies in visual organisation – in the nuances of balance and imbalance, tension and harmony, action and repose. “I am increasingly experiencing my work as a viewer and less as a creator, and as a result have noticed a new energy and force in it,” says Kolbusz. “In my experience, an easily achieved painting is rarely character-filled. A piece with history always has things to squint at beneath the layers. I want to be surprised and excited by the piece when it is finished. I want the work to live on… sort of like a song that slowly becomes a favourite as opposed to a hit that is instantly loved and soon forgotten.”