Find out why Polish artist Bartosz Beda is feeling good about things, especially 1920s’ bikini lengths, at New School House Gallery show in York
WHY is Polish artist Bartosz Beda “feeling good about things,” to quote the title of his solo exhibition at the New School House Gallery in York?
“There’s nothing ironic in my title, but I guess everyone can interpret it in any way they like, but originally it came from being the title of one of my paintings, though it also comments on looking at things and feeling good about them,” says Bartosz, who re-located to Britain in 2008 to study at Manchester School of Art.
Earlier, he had attended a private fine art college in Poland from the age of 13 to 18 and initially he worked in animation on the Oscar-winning film Peter And The Wolf.
After graduating with a BA in Fine Art in 2011, he was selected for the 2012 Catlin Art Guide for most promising emerging artists in the UK and then progressed to the Masters programme at Manchester Metropolitan University.
“Bartosz is one of the most exciting early career painters working in the North.” says New School House co-director Robert Teed, who first exhibited Beda’s work in a group show in 2012.
Bartosz’s most striking works have been placed on the gallery’s back wall. “The paintings were based on an article I saw about fashion in the 1920s, in particular about the length that bikinis had to be,” he says.
“What aligned in all the pictures was that all the women were looking down when the men were checking the lengths with their measurement tapes as there were strict rules. If the bikini was too short, the girl would be fined.”
In creating his paintings, Bartosz started off by using the photographic imagery of the women, then a burst of colours would be applied on top. |”I wanted the paintings to express an enjoyment of texture, paint and colour, combined with the mysterious act of lookingdown by the woman,” he says.
Bartosz works in oils. “It allows me to experiment,” he reasons. “You can paint wet on wet, which I like to do, or wet on dry, which I also like to do,” he says. “Painting wet on wet, I can allow colours to mix; but painting when the paint has gone sticky, I can control it more.”
Bartosz now divides his time between Manchester and Idaho, the American city to which he followed his Japanese-American wife. “In Idaho, I get a lot of time to think without any distraction, whereas in Manchester I find it very busy and I have to commit every day to my studio,” he says. “My Idaho work tends to be more colourful, like the paintings of the girls in bikinis. The Manchester work tends to be rougher and maybe done much quicker because there isn’t the spare time to reflect.”
Bartosz Beda’s exhibition, Feeling Good About Things, runs at New School House Gallery, off Peasholme Green, York, until April 27. Opening hours: Wednesday, Thursday, 12 noon to 4pm; Friday, Saturday, 10am to 4pm; other times by appointment on 07766 656030