‘Painting has to die to be reborn’ Bartosz Beda Interview
Source: Bartosz Beda
- A frequent topic of philosophical discussion is whether beauty and other aesthetic values are objective or subjective. What is your opinion on this?
Even if my opinion might be relevant, it still may lead to substantive differences on other important issues that concern beauty and aesthetics. Your question is more for me a concern about the quality of beauty and aesthetics in the art world today. I would like to recall here Mark Rothko saying that when he started his journey with painting there was no agents, galleries, and art was pretty much a lonely thing, where artists could focus more on the quality. By quality, I don’t mean well-executed art, but thoughtful approach to aesthetics and beauty. Erich Fromm wrote in one of his essay about our spontaneous desires for more and more goods that surrounds us. Our society by building in obsolescence forces me, the individual, to change styling of products, clothes, and even food whether I need it or not. That could also be a metaphor for your question. We desire new aesthetics in the art and follow certain trends. They might be objective or subjective and not necessary bring any new values. But what if there is no beauty anymore? When we reach again that exhaustion of economical goods with next economical crisis, the values might shift again and change the aesthetic approach to beauty. Then, what objective, might not be objective anymore.
- The three aesthetic theories of art criticism are most commonly referred to as Imitationalism, Formalism, and Emotionalism. Some think that everything that is important in a work of art is the realistic presentation of subject matter. Yet you have said you seek to deform your subject matter to the point of it becoming unrecognizable, why?
That’s a very good question. When I used pictures of Stalin holding a girl’s hand or Hitler walking with girl, at the end nobody wants to refer to these propaganda images of the past leaders now. They were relevant for some people in the past and even if we have these images happening nowadays too, they don’t bring anything significant besides political and social anxiety. That is a point in my art where I begin deforming the painting by removing faces and replacing them with a new imagery or combination of mark-making with paint that represents abstract at the end. To explain that process in more philosophical aspects, I would bring here an example of passionate marriage, that is full of love. When the relationship is full of dedication to each other at some point one side has to pretend not to feel the passion that the other person really feels, then, to pretend that one does not really feel passion, and pretend certain situations, or that all of it is something else. To be clear I am not saying here that there’s no love between them two. This, in a metaphorical sense covers impression of Imitationalism, Formalism and Emotionalism. My painting often requires a cover-story for the subject matter I use, so that people can adjust to it easily and find beauty in deformed shapes. This is like a narcotic that you take under your positive influence just to discover the de-realization of your own destructive nature. The same intention I bring to the surface of the painting, where you are forced to see good in a negative history or present times.
- Why do you think painting continues to be noted as a “dying form”?
Painting has to die to be reborn again in a new form.
- Richter said pushing the boundaries was no longer his task as a painter; it is the task of the future generations of painters. where do you see your practice and how far do you think you push the boundaries yourself?
This refers directly to your question about “dying form.” I think that my painting is just about to bloom in a new form. Like David Hockney said, “I assume the best work is yet to come.” That’s exactly how I feel when thinking about pushing the boundaries. The body of work I made in 2017 was about re-thinking my past and looking forward to the future. It’s like going through the darkness and seeing the bright light at the end of it. I often change my style. I don’t like to feel comfortable in what I am doing best. I see too often painters painting the same way years to come. They develop what they are best and follow trends. I want to make trends; I don’t want to follow one.
- A quote by Douglas Adams, “The idea of art kills creativity;” what do these words mean to you?
Douglas was right that when you reach the highest self-proclamation as a great artist then that’s the moment when you should have worried, as that’s the time when real creativity is killed. For me, it is exactly what I mention in the question about boundaries, where I mention that 2017 was walking in the darkness. What I meant by it is that 2017 was a year of leaving behind what I achieved in painting and understanding where I want to go next. I want to be creative and remembered as a painter that never stopped changing his work. There is a difference between art and practice. To practice, art means to struggle and be aware that the final product is not great enough yet, so that believe will keep me working further on the next piece. Art is what leaves the studio and lives its own life.
- What makes a successful piece of art?
Politics, environment, lack of sleep. I don’t know really. Success is a funny word. What success is and how it can be measured, nobody really knows, as it is a personal thing. Success is a progressive realization of our ambitions and plans that keep us sane. The same way I would describe a successful piece of art. It is only a successful realization of studio practice, struggles and ambitions to make something great.
- Should an artist seek praise or criticism for his work?
Both. But there are moments when an artist needs to say “no” to criticism and praise.
- What is required of a person in order to become an artist?
The same things that we hear all over again from people: work hard, sleep faster and keep a positive attitude. By sleep faster, I mean that probably six hours is enough. I also think that there is no single recipe for becoming an artist. It is a personal journey and split of circumstances that allows one to become a great person and artist.
- If imitation is the doctrine of artistic creativity how would you find your own vision of painting when all painting is an imitation of what’s been before?
Well, it is like with innovation that comes to early. People are not ready for rapid changes unless there is a catastrophic event happening that creates new approaches and innovations that quickly are applied. I think that it is a question that I ask myself in different forms every day. On the other hand, we all would have to be in a kind of coma to follow one doctrine. There always will be a way to do things differently.
10. “The artist should not only paint what he sees before him but also what he sees in himself. If, however, he sees nothing within him, then he should also refrain from painting what he sees before him” Caspar David Friedrich. What does this mean for you and how you approach a canvas?
Good point. Painting reflects what we see and feel in front of us and inside of us. The strategy of painting what is inside and outside of painter’s mind, can never be ‘complete’, never be a translation into reality, which would make art into psychopathic process. Painting rather means offering the aesthetic forms, which can communicate the possibilities of interpretations and new approaches to painting. Even if piece of art and practice are two almost opposite things, I would still agree with Caspar David Friedrich.
- At your core, you still are very much a figurative expressionist painter using your visual language of form, color, shape to create and obscure your themed paintings to the point of hiding a subject within the painting but would you consider your work to be moving toward being a figurative abstractionist?
My work evaluate and changes. It is funny to think that even if I know these terms, I have never really affiliated myself with them. I would like to come with my own term of figurative and abstract combination, something more unique to my work.
- What is the source of a creative idea?
Thought. Everything starts in the mind as a thought.
- What is your ultimate goal as an artist?
Keep my fame ongoing.
- What inspired you to become an artist?
Primary, my 12 years older brother was an inspiration to become an artist. I was at age of seven, when I decided to become a professional artist and began to copy drawing and paintings of my brother. I remember vividly saying it to my mum that I want to become a painter.
- What advice do you have for artist that are starting out?
Do your job and relax.
Born in Poland in 1984, Bartosz Beda relocated to the UK in 2008. After graduating with a MA in Fine Art in 2011, he was selected for the 2012 Catlin Art Guide as one of the most promising emerging artists in the UK. In 2012, Beda was short-listed for Saatchi New Sensations exhibition in London for most exciting graduate students in the IK, and won the esteemed Towry Award for the Best of North of England, as well as a six-month scholarship to Academy of Fine Arts in Dresden, Germany. Beda had solo exhibitions at Galleria Liebre, Spain (2013), BAC Gallery, Colombia (2015), Jackson-Teed, England (2016), Rosemary Duffy Larson Gallery, USA (2017) and received a fellowship from Fondazione perl’Arte in Rome, Italy in 2016.
- Bad Boys Have a Nice Haircut II, oil on canvas, 28x23cm (11×9), 2017
- Bad Boys Have a Nice Haircut IV, oil on canvas, 28x23cm (11×9″), 2017
- Bad Boys Have a Nice Haircut V, oil on canvas, 28x23cm (11×9″), 2017
- Bad Boys Have a Nice Haircut VI, oil on canvas, 28x23cm (11×9″), 2017
- Duality I, oil on canvas, 153x127cm (60×50″), 2018
- Duality I, oil on canvas, 153x127cm (60×50″), 2018
- Duality II, oil on canvas, 153x127cm (60×50″), 2018