STM 2019
100 Hotlist - #2 Waldemar Kolbusz, p9

Resounding with vibrant colour and pulsating with energy, Waldemar Kolbusz’s paintings are instantly identifiable and have established him as a sought-after artist.

But it is the unplanned element of his abstract expressionist works that keep surprising.

“My work is not planned, there are no preliminary sketches,” Kolbusz explains. “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 has exhibited extensively in Australia, as well as holding solo and group exhibitions in Singapore, New York and Hong Kong. He is represented in collections for IBM, Clayton Utz and KPMG. Melbourne’s Crown Metropol commissioned a 7m piece and there are 19 of his works in the presidential suites of the Four Seasons in Macau.

His art ranges in price from $2000 to $50,000 — a long way from his student days when Mt Lawley Senior High School bought one of his works for $100 and hung it in the staff room. “I thought that was just the best thing on earth. It later was stolen, but that only added to it because it meant someone wanted it that much,” he laughs.

Now Perth art lovers will be able to see his works up close, with Kolbusz revealing he is opening a new studio and gallery space in a burgeoning design hub in Claisebrook in November.

As the son of proud Polish immigrants who fled World War II to make a new life in Australia, Kolbusz often felt alienated. Painting was a way to express himself, which goes some way to explaining his firm intention to give back to the WA creative community that gave him an emotional release.

Studio Kolbusz will provide space for him to paint and exhibit, as well as offer a gallery for emerging artists. “I’d want to expand opportunities for them with affordable and accessible options to show and develop critically engaging work,” Kolbusz says. “I have been very fortunate that I have been able to forge a career over 25 years while remaining local to Perth, and I now want to do my part in making emerging art careers increasingly sustainable here.”

In the meantime, a major solo exhibition of his expressionist and figurative works, called Closer to Home, will be held from April 30 to May 25 at Flinders Lane Gallery in Melbourne.

Nicolette Casella