Art by Bartosz Beda, Manchester School of Art

Graduate Scoops National Art Prize for ‘Gandhi’ Painting

15 October 2012Art by Bartosz Beda, Manchester School of Art

national art prize: Artist impresses judges with unusual Gandhi portrait
Art by Bartosz Beda, Gandhi

Gandhi – study from memory

 

MANCHESTER School of Art graduate Bartosz Beda is celebrating after winning the northern section of the national art prize at National Open Art Competition.

Bartosz, who graduated with a Masters in Fine Art this summer, beat off competition from hundreds of entries to win the £1,000 prize with a portrait of the Indian leader Ghandi painted from memory.

He said that winning the prize was both “exhausting and exciting”.

“The painting is not really a direct representation of Gandhi; I was more interested in the idea of a portrait from memory and finding the concepts behind the painting,” he said. “So colour is the most important thing.”

Inspired by industry

Bartosz, who was also shortlisted for the Saatchi New Sensations prize is currently spending six months studying at the Academy of Arts in Dresden, after receiving a scholarship. But he says it was his time spent at the Manchester School of Art which allowed his creative talents to blossom.

“When I came to Manchester I began to love the city because of the industrial feeling of the landscape and the people, who are very focussed on industry, but at the same time the city has an artistic life – it is a very different experience to Dresden,” he said.

Now 28, Bartosz says he was just seven years old when he told his mum he wanted to be an artist when he grew up. Six years ago he started to concentrate on painting, and particularly the ways in which this traditional medium can be made relevant.

“I would be silly to say there is no tradition – the tradition is every painter,” he says. “The problem is what we can do with it to make it more contemporary and fresh for the viewer.

15 October 2012

 

AN Magazine

AN Magazine Interview

AN Magazine

GRADUATE INTERVIEW: BARTOSZ BEDA

By: Richard Taylor

 

Bartosz Beda is fast approaching the completion of his MA at Manchester School of Art in September 2012 with a slot in Saatchi New Sensations to follow straight after. We talk to the artist about his multi-lingual practice ahead of further exhibitions across Europe and a six-month scholarship at The Academy of Fine Arts in Dresden.

Born in Poland in 1984, Bartosz relocated to the UK in 2008 to study at Manchester School of Art. After graduating with a BA (Hons) in Fine Art in 2011, and appearing in the 2012 Catlin Art Guide, he then progressed onto the Masters programme in Manchester to develop his practice as a painter:

Richard Taylor: How would you explain your painting method?

Bartosz Beda: My paintings explore the relationship between daily life and human nature. I perceive humanity as a chocolate cake, where beneath the ‘iced’ surface lies an intriguing and challenging mixture of fears and social pathology. Through the application and process of painting, I cut a piece of this cake to explore the nature of these problems. Simple yet powerful gestured mark making is used to search for and re-investigate solutions that bring these hidden depths to the surface.

RT: As your work makes use of the universal language of paint, how is it different showing work in one country and then another using this language to communicate?

BB: It is like watching the same movie twice but in different languages. Suddenly, you realise that you cannot translate the same dialogue to another language exactly. To understand something in context, very often translation has to be changed from the literal or original form and this difference matters when you consider how translation then affects meaning. A similar thing happens with a work exhibited in one country and then another. But visual language confuses the act of communication and becomes an act of interpretation. Historical, political and social aspects are very important too; they impact and decide upon the universality of paint as a language.

For example, when I painted a portrait of Marx, for my Dad, it was a reminder of communism and the loss of human potential and energy as a result of an ideology that failed in practice. Here in England, Marx is a thinker who wrote ‘The Communist Manifesto’ and was buried in London. Both contexts are fine in as much as they provide a dialogue with an artwork. Also, painting is a good medium for expression, because you don’t need any special subject matter for a viewer to enjoy the artwork.

RT: What sort of works are you showing in the exhibitions you have planned this September?

BB: The first exhibition is ‘Head & Whole – Talking Heads’ at Abbey Walk Gallery in Grimsby. This is a group show and I will present work that deals with opposing colour and line making to stimulate the illusion of portraiture as subject matter. Both in drawing and painting harmony is created to dominate surface components, so the importance of subject matter is not accidental but rather a debate between line and form.

In my solo show at Galeria Rynek Sztuki 7 in Andrychow, Poland, I am planning to exhibit works that are emotive of the different stages and facets of memory. Some paintings will present a reality based on research in to photography and family albums. Other paintings will use the memory of objects and places as a starting point, to create a tension on the canvas.

I was also selected for ’53 Degrees’ at School House Gallery in York. Here I will exhibit two paintings that use colour as an enigmatic tool in avoiding direct representation. Instead more arbitrary decisions in the use of colour are used to clarify self-expression.

 

Art by Bartosz Beda, Interior with Chair Art by Bartosz Beda, Gandhi III Art by Bartosz Beda, Unreal Table

RT: What do you expect to gain from your scholarship in Dresden, and when do you go?

BB: The scholarship is an exchange with Manchester School of Art and I go straight after my MA Degree Show. This means I will step directly from one studio to another without a break. I am very excited!

There are solid things in my daily approach to canvas that still need development and, in context, better understanding. The scholarship will be a good opportunity to comprehend my role outside Manchester, a reason to take my paintings out of their current surroundings and confront them with a different culture and tradition of painting.

Whilst in Dresden I want to comprehend how creativity and conceptual understanding are going to be stimulated through the freshness of a new city, studio and people. In order to develop my painting skills I will absorb the knowledge of professors and make the most of a competitive questioning of the role of painting, in confrontation with other students. All this will help me understand what inspires a new body of work and how this influences professional development after scholarship.

RT: How much of Manchester will you take with you?

BB: All the experience gained at Manchester School of Art can be use to re-investigate my practice in new place. The MA course has challenged my day-to-day examination of image and image source, which I used as a starting point to support individuality as an artist. I wish to make Manchester my place to live and work, but I want to extend my professional practice widely and I plan to indicate my presence in Dresden as an active painter.

 

Richard Taylor

Richard is an artist/writer living in Edinburgh. He works as online editor on behalf of a-n The Artists Information Company for the Degrees unedited and Students community sites. He also produces art news for the a-n News site.

www.rich-taylor.co.uk

First published: a-n.co.uk August 2012

(detail) catalogue

frontcover inside2

(detail) accompanies the show of the same name curated by Andrew Bracey at Transition Gallery (and at H Project Space, Bangkok and The Usher Gallery, Lincoln). Produced by Transition Editions this 172 page publication includes images from all 118 artists and essays by Andrew Bracey, Simón Granell, Brian Curtin, James Elkins and David Ryan.

Available from Transition Gallery – £10

For more information please visit Transition Gallery

Silent Interior II, bartosz beda paintings 2015

2015

blast of absolute, bartosz beda paintings 2014

2014 – selected

Bartosz Beda paintings 2015

2013 – selected

bartosz beda paintings 2013

Review of Blast of Absolute, Expose Magazine, Dec 2014

Bartosz Beda currently on view at Bogota Arte Contemporaneo (Columbia)

PictureRepresentation and Abstraction in the Work of Bartosz Beda

By Anna Niebrugge
Published by Expose 
Currently, it is up at Bogotá Arte Contemporáneo Gallery of Bogotá, Columbia, where it will be available for viewing until January 9th, 2015th.  The space is large and comfortably filled with the paintings of Bartisz Beda.  The show consists of an impressive 53 artworks and 2 videos.  The way that the paintings are placed around the gallery feels very intentional.  Some are raised higher on the walls and some lower; a few so low that the viewer must look down on or even bend down, which creates an interesting interaction with the work.  The result is a show that pulls the viewer in, creating an engaging and thought-provoking experience.
Beda’s work is composed of built-up paint and carefully rendered faces or objects which are intentionally marred and fragmented.   The surfaces he paints on changes for each piece, from paper to canvas to sheet metal; it depends on the painting.  His medium of choice is oil paint. Working wet on wet, he allows the paint to mix on the surface and build up very thick in some places, while allowing the surface to peek through in others. The subject matter is both representational and abstracted; first the subject is painted and then parts are removed or altered. The subject matter uses historical, biblical, and well-known people, religious objects, and his own likeness to explore ideas of human expression, feelings, and self. In the center of the room is a sculptural display of thirty small paintings, cascading down a pillar.  It is a collection of marks made while Beda was working on this show. The installation speaks about reuse and recycling and the idea of putting effort into keeping the earth clean.  The paintings along the walls are set in groups, each group illustrates a concept the Beda works with. In the painting Heal Thyself I Beda uses the image of a dictionary and St. Peter to explore the human intentions: its transformations and subsequent fears .The artist, Bartosz Beda is originally from Lodz, Poland. He earned his BA and MFA in the United Kingdom and has spent six months in Germany with a scholarship residency, dedicated to developing his artwork.  Beda currently lives in the United States where he is continuing to push and explore his ideas with his paintings.www.bogotartecontemporaneo.com

 view paintings from the solo exhibition here

Blast of Absolute by Bartosz Beda

Studio International Magazine

Studio International Interview 29th July 2014

Studio International Magazine

LINK TO STUDIO INTERNATIONAL HERE 

 

Bartosz Beda: interview

by EMILY SPICER

Bartosz Beda is a rising star whose torrid paintings reflect social anxieties, with and a keen eye trained on the lessons of history. Beda distils and distorts images garnered through the media, giving them a new vocabulary of tension and threat with his adept handling of paint.

Since graduating from the Manchester School of Art, he has received numerous nominations for art prizes, winning the National Open Art Competition for the North of England in 2012. Beda was born in Poland, but now lives and works in the US. I spoke to him about finding his voice as an artist, the lure of paint and the future of painting in the digital age.

Emily Spicer: When did you first realise you wanted to be an artist?

Bartosz Beda: I was seven years old. My older brother was interested in drawing and painting so, as a little brother, I just wanted to follow him. Then, maybe after two years, my parents sent me to a professional teacher, who helped me to develop my drawing skills. Then I went to secondary school, which was a fine art school, so I learned to draw and paint in a traditional way.

ES: There has been a lot of criticism levelled at art schools in the UK for not teaching the basics of drawing and painting.

BB: I never went to an academy of art in Poland, but I know the teaching of art there is very traditional. Manchester School of Art was very open to ideas. It was more interested in developing my ideas than my skills. I can understand that people who go to school without those skills struggle to bring their ideas into their work, but if someone really wants to be good then they will be good anyway.

ES: You seem totally at ease with the technical side of painting, with manipulating colour and form.

BB: In a way, when I paint now I don’t think about it any more. I don’t think about how to paint a hand or a face or a figure, or what colours to use. I just do that spontaneously, and I’m actually more interested in deforming the painting. I’m interested in finding a kind of flatnessin colour or form, so it’s nothing to do with figurative painting, even if you can see a figure there; it’s primarily about erasing the focal point. I try to create limitless space, as Rothko did in his paintings. It’s more about experimenting. I don’t know where it will take me, but it’s good practice for something new.

ES: What are your main influences? What draws you to an object or theme?

BB: I’ve made a few paintings that are not based on any kind of image, but basically I start with images. Sometimes I use the same image over and over again and I’m not searching for anything new. Right now, I’m painting figures, and each painting is different, but I’m still using the same images I found a year ago.

ES: Where do those images come from?

BB: Because English is my second language, if I don’t know a word, I type it into Google. When you type a word and then type “definition”, Google tells you everything. It will explain little by little what a word means, and then I follow the next word and the next word and then I come to some more interesting things – words from Latin or some essays, and then I find the images and just search for those.

ES: You’ve done a new series of paintings called(Ras)Putin and Europa(nic). Can you explain a little about these pieces?

BB: Sometimes I watch the news from Poland. In January and February, there were many problems in Ukraine: in Poland, they were describing the political conditions in Ukraine from a different perspective from the rest of the EU, which inspired the title. Rasputin was a dark monk, a strange person who led a basic life. He warned the Tsar of Russia to do everything he could to avoid war. He said war would mean the end of the monarchy. In the end, Rasputin was murdered and became a legend in Russia. His assassination was a mystery, just like his life. He was a good adviser to the Tsar, but at the same time not really welcome. I link that to Putin, who has aspirations to act like a tsar. I’ve played with words a little bit to connect historical events to the present situation.

ES: The more you talk about your inspiration, the more apparent it is that language influences so much of your work.

BB: Right now, I think it is that way. I think that spoken or written words connect with painting and add importance. While I was studying for my BA and MA in Manchester, I was more involved in images. I was more concerned with finding images and painting them. Then I went to Dresden for a six-month residency. After three months, the professor came to my studio and told me one thing that I still remember: “I know you can paint, but when you go back to Manchester you have to show something new, something no one else has seen before.” I was thinking about it all the time and now I know he was right. When artists are doing the same thing all the time, people appreciate it, they like it, but at some point they start to hate it, too, because they stop finding anything exciting about it. So, after that, my idea was to keep my work exciting in a way. It’s not easy, but little by little my work has changed.

ES: The technique you use is impasto, where the paint is thickly applied like butter – you are scraping it and spreading it across the canvas. Is the materiality of the paint important to you, or is paint just a means to an end?

BB: I do apply the paint impasto. I like to have parts of the canvas where the paint is really thin, where you can almost see the primer, and other areas where the paint is very thickly applied. I also work wet on wet, so the paint mixes all the time. Sometimes, I want to prove to myself that I can still paint figures in a traditional sense, so I limit my palette to maybe two colours and sort of draw the figure into the painting and then, when I’ve proved to myself that I can still do it, I start to destroy the figure. So I’ll create something really realistic and then take it out little by little.

ES: Would you consider venturing into other mediums?

BB: No, I wouldn’t go to other mediums. I’d rather dedicate my time to painting. There was a time when I was searching for my perfect medium. I started in animation and worked with sculpture in a movie studio in Poland. When I was working on Peter and the Wolf, I was working with one of the main artists and she was making sculptures on a small scale, which I then scaled up. She liked my work a lot and said I should make a portfolio. She saw me as a sculptor.

ES: What made you leave animation?

BB: I’d always wanted to do painting. Working with sculpture was a final transition, it made me realise that painting was what I really wanted to do. Once I had decided that, I found an art school in Manchester. It had been my dream to study abroad since I was little. I always imagined myself as someone who was born in Poland but would live in other countries. That was something I wanted to do in my life. The EU opened up this wide variety of opportunities. I could go anywhere and work anywhere. I didn’t speak English, but I thought it would be easier to learn than German, so I thought, OK, I’ll go to England. I still struggle with languages. It is not easy for me. So language is something I’m still working on, and maybe recently that has influenced my work. First, words come into my mind, and that’s how I’m building my works. I put the words together and create things around them.

ES: You’ve mentioned Google and how it facilitated that process. How do you think painting is evolving under the influence of Google, and how will it continue to evolve in a digital age?

BB: I think at some point in the future, artists will start to move away from Google images and online resources. I think that was good maybe five, 10 years ago when Gerhard Richter developed this idea of using photographs. It was not a new idea, but he renewed it in a different way. Then Luc Tuymans and Wilhelm Sasnal began to use media sources, online sources and pictures from magazines, and other artists started to follow that trend and I followed it too. For my BA and MA, I was following those kinds of ideas, those ideas that someone had developed already. Now I’m trying to find my own vision of painting, to bring a new perspective to painting. This is a long process. We all copy and use the ideas of others and it’s not a bad thing. It is a process of learning, but right now I’m moving away from using images as sources.

I’m waiting for something to come along and change my work 180 degrees. I also follow emerging artists and how they develop their work. Some of them don’t change anything. Once they’ve found a market, they try to follow it. They feel that they’re secure, and that’s what I was saying at the beginning. People might like your work and appreciate it, but at some point they will hate it because they won’t find excitement in it any more. So I’m trying different things in painting and I’m trying to experiment all the time with paint.

ES: If you didn’t have Google or the internet, would you be spending a lot of time in the library leafing through dictionaries and art books?

BB: Actually, I do that anyway. For example, where I live in Idaho, they have big volumes of Studio International editions. There was a time when I was spending all my mornings in the library, two hours just reading or looking for images in Studio International. I did that before my solo show in Spain. Then I found the last printed version. I had this physical fact saying to me that this was the last copy and I thought: “Oh no, they’re not publishing them any more.” It never occurred to me that it existed online. It’s like painting, which is a transition between real life and what you imagine. Once a work leaves the studio, it’s living in a completely different world. For example, I don’t know what has happened to the paintings that have gone to collectors. I don’t know if they’re in a dark room where no one can see them, or whether they’re hanging on a wall somewhere. The fact that they are collected is a nice feeling, but at the same time I don’t know the reality of that painting after it leaves my studio. It is exciting too. The physical object is not with me any more, just like Studio International, but it’s nice that it still exists.

ES: You’ve talked about experimentation and looking for a new direction in your painting. Maybe America will bring out a different side to your work?

BB: I think that for sure. Change is always good, but at the beginning it creates a lot of expectation in people when you change place, when you change friends and when you start a new life. It is like you’re reborn a little bit, so maybe it takes time to see a different angle. By understanding what I want from painting, I will see a different side of my life and work. This is an interesting time, a gradual transition from old to new. I think that my time in America will bring new directions, new discoveries in painting. I am trying to acknowledge what I experience and how I can use that experience.

ES: What do you have planned for the next 12 months?

BB: That’s a good question. I’m exhibiting in a number of the international group shows. I also have a solo show in November this year at the Bogotá Arte Contemporáneo in Colombia, for which I’m slowly making a new body of work. I am very excited about that show, as it is a big and challenging space for my paintings. Right now, I am showing my work with BAC in a summer group show called Image of Emotion. In the near future, I would like to work with other galleries in Europe.

Angel of Death II, bartosz beda paintings 2012

About: Hypostasis and Angel of Death

                        Click here to view all paintings.

 

Hypostasis and Angel of Death by Bartosz Beda

Hypostasis is the idea of opposed values in the evaluated society and the concept used by intellectual and religious culture. The word ‘Hypostasis’ has a metaphorical sense, which supports a fundamental reality of solid values and undefined ideologies.

Bartosz Beda, Hypostasis I, contemporary painting

Hypostasis I, oil on canvas, 30x24cm, 2012

The Hypostasis represents one from three persons of the Holy Trinity. As a factual recognition, I have chosen the representation of Jesus, as it can be recognized in any society. Despite the factual changes in the society, where our civilization is based on religious factors, this model and complexity of culture as a common value, can be considered as unity of something much bigger then the society we live in. I am not saying that Christianity is the best solution for our spiritual existence, but I am suggesting that it could be just a transition between spirituality and religion.

Christianity has changed the understanding of Hypostasis and closed the values only to the aspects of Holy Trinity. The illumination of Jesus portraits reflects unstable philosophy of contemporary spirituality in the social climate. This influence can be used to explore those ideas in the Angel of Death. As we know from history, this nickname was given to Dr. Mengele during the Second World War, because he was determining the life or death of many people in the Auschwitz camp. The events from history, created a representation of the Angel of Death in the person of Dr. Mengele. He was a personification of everything that we can call evil.

The relationship between the personification of the Angel of Death and Hypostasis is as strong as the failure of both concepts in practice. It means that there is a strong need for change in order to create a better existence. This change could occur in individual opinions through the application of experimental rules and values in a society. Changes appear through a compilation of events, which are visible in Hypostasis and in the personification of death.

The integration of what we accept as precious values, like for instance, democracy, is a result of changes in a society and is transformed from one variation to another. This term is supported by those physical principles and those are defined intellectually.

Both the Hypostasis and the Angel of Death have numerous interpretations and expressions, which vary by culture. This personification of death, as well as a definition of a Hypostasis, exists in every culture.