Carl Gopalkrishnan (aka Gopal) began his journey as a painter in 1987 and has been exploring our waking dreams and our public and private myths through art on canvas, paper and mixed media ever since. Outside of exhibitions, he is also published in international magazines and journals of poetry, politics and culture.
Born in 1967 in the UK, he began his career as a typographer and designer after studying graphic design in Perth, Western Australia. As a self-taught painter, he worked in a small gallery in the 90s combining practical learning from his peers with academic study.
After completing his BA in History in 1993, and later a First Class Honours in Sociology in 1999 from Murdoch University, Carl began, but later withdrew from, doctoral studies in Melbourne in 2004. He made a conscious decision to use his art as his lens and began an unusual journey collaborating between the worlds of academia, art, politics, music and the company of strangers.
This has led to some interesting experiences such as presenting at international intervention workshops in the UK in 2012; painting portraits of a quantum physicist and a politician, and more recently exploring the collision between artists and a jurisprudence of new capabilities for the London Progressive Journal in 2013.
A lifetime interest in consciousness and the ways that past trauma hides in the subconscious and shapes our thoughts is mirrored in his understanding of culture. Artistically, this has led him to re-visit surrealist traditions from the perspective of our 'waking dream' - or what we think is real. This theme has motivated him to blend styles of the past using the technology of the present to find a new visual language to capture this. In a feature in the New York literary journal Literal Latte in 2009, Carl described a process of resisting the linear narrative.
"I knew a long time ago that I mixed things up more than others. I mix mediums, concepts, words and processes and they all come out at once. It's not logical to others, but to me, well, it makes perfect sense. But it takes real work, and as you delve deeper you focus on quality, on resolved pieces, completed thoughts."
In The Assassination of Judy Garland (2008-12), in which he explored a metaphorical portrait of America, Carl tried to make sense of the current global political crisis using a queer cultural lens. This series completed a decade long body of work that examined the motives behind the post 9/11 war on terror narrative. It includes his 2006 exhibition Sedition and Other Bedtime Stories, and various interviews writings and journal articles. While those who both appreciate and dislike these themes anchor his work in politics, Carl aspires to a broader view that goes beyond activism to the natural inclination of artists throughout time to respond to contemporary events.
Currently on hiatus, he calls both Melbourne and Perth home and travels as part of his research.
"Artist Carl Gopal’s interests are expansive, but he is by no means a dilettante. He is gifted with an ability to analyze current events in the context of the “big picture” without getting overwhelmed, weaving together schools of thought as diverse as popular culture and politics, spirituality and quantum physics. He is afraid that amid the exhilaration of rapid scientific advancement, we are losing the sense of humble awe at the universe that spurred our curiosity in the first place." [more]
Arts Writer, Tikkun Daily [Magazine], Berkley, CA, USA 18-06-11
"Carl Gopalkrishnan is a highly creative and highly skilled fine artist and illustrator. We featured his work “Elsewhere 2″ as the cover illustration for the June 2009 issue of Literal Latte (a journal of prose, poetry and art), and included a large gallery of his paintings, drawings and pen & ink work in the same issue. Carl has a unique and compelling artistic vision, and all of us at Literal Latte very much look forward to seeing new developments in his career as an artist. We are proud to have featured him."
Creative Director, Literal Latte. New York City, USA 2012
"Does art lend itself to polemics? Is there a role for the artist as polemicist? Carl Gopalkrishnan – known in the world of art as Carl Gopal – has no doubt that passion is and should be the heart of an artist’s work. Painting is his way of taking to the audience a strongly worded visual message where passion is essential, controversy is for embracing, and the orthodoxies of the establishment are to be confronted. His politics are imbued in his art. His art is imbued with his politics". [more]
Jocelynne A. Scutt
Human Rights Lawyer/former High Court Judge/Academic
The Art of the Possible, Cambridge University, UK 03-05-12
"[Carl] incorporated Kimberly colours from my time running Theatre Kimberly in the north-west and the subtle reference to my my experience with the tsunami in Thailand is there too,...Carl’s interpretation of my careers in the theatre and politics was the most amazing aspect". [JH discussing his portrait sitting, read more]
John Hyde, MLA Western Australia
Out in Perth, Writer: Amy Henderson, 2010