Alumni Stories

Art by Bartosz Beda, Manchester School of Art

Alumni Stories

About my career

When I was an undergraduate student, I was influenced by my tutors and other artists, but when I was studying for a Master’s degree, I was taught to be creative and independent. I believe that this mix of influence from others and individual independence is a good mix for development as an artist.

After my BA (Hons) in Fine Art, a gallery in London picked me up and since then I was able to meet and connect with collectors. When I graduated from the MA, I was selected for the Saatchi New Sensations 2012 and I was awarded a scholarship to Dresden Academy of Arts. Since then, I have been working as a full-time artist and I exhibit around the globe. I have my studios in both the United States and the United Kingdom.

I consider myself a painter of mostly representational paintings, but I also experiment with other forms of painting. This includes a mix of abstraction, figures, and objects, whether they are found or made from a scratch.

Bartosz Beda, Alumni Stories

I consider myself a painter of mostly representational paintings, but I also experiment with other forms of painting. This includes a mix of abstraction, figures, and objects, whether they are found or made from a scratch. I create different kinds of themes for each solo exhibition and each has different inspirations behind them.

Manchester is a great place for artists. I found that MMU provided me with the same resources that I could find in London; it had everything I needed to become a full-time artist. I believe that I was determined enough to work together with tutors to make sure that I could get the most out of my university experience and succeed after graduating.

My top tip for students is…

Tutors are there for you so listen to them carefully because your success is their success. Use your time properly and think about the study professionally. Your profession starts with the first day of your study.

I’m inspired by…

I found Sharon Hall a big support, who herself is an abstract painter, as well Ian Hartshorne, who was always around and shared his experiences. Both tutors were there for students and they knew exactly what each individual needed. I also can’t forget about Pavel Buchler, who is a great mentor and art supporter.

Why I love MMU

I loved the professionalism of MMU.


Explore Bartosz’s work on his website: bartoszbeda.com


For more information go to: Alumni StoriesGraduate scoops national art prize

Video 2012

Film by Sam Norton and Soraya Gilanni

A film by Sam Norton and Soraya Gilanni, 2012.

The film was made in spring 2012, when I was about to complete MA course in Fine Art at Manchester Metropolitan University.

AN Magazine

AN Magazine Interview

AN Magazine


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.


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

Studio International Magazine

Studio International Interview 29th July 2014

Studio International Magazine



Bartosz Beda: interview


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.

Derbyshire Life Magazine featured Bartosz Beda

Featured in Derbyshire Life Magazine

See the full PDF article here: New Mills Gallery features Bartosz Beda

That Lyn was planning to do things differently in New Mill was well sign-posted in her Studios Gallery opening show opening which included work by controversial art collector Charles Saatchi’s ‘New Sensation’ Bartosz Beda.

Debryshire Life Magazine, May 2014

Derbyshire Life Magazine featured Bartosz Beda

Derbyshire Life Magazine

Derbyshire Life Magazine featured Bartosz Beda

Derbyshire Life Magazine

Derbyshire Life Magazine featured Bartosz Beda

Derbyshire Life Magazine