Carl Gopal in his Moonee Ponds Studio Aug 2017

Carl Gopalkrishnan

My full name is Carl Gopalkrishnan but people know me as 'Carl Gopal'. I was born in the UK in 1967 and work mostly in acrylic paint, mixed media, photography and printmaking. As a visual artist I reflect on how we express human consciousness across time, place and culture. These are really questions that drive me personally more than any attempt at theory.  

I'm curious about the world, so I use my art to investigate my spiritual journey. Combining research, reflection and intuitive practice, my paintings are often inspired by history, literature, popular culture and mythology. When I say research, sometimes it's lived and immediate, not unlike method actors. Without feeling it, my paintings would feel dead. The feeling counts.

I've drawn and painted since forever. My earliest influences include American Folk Art, Outsider Art, Surrealism and Punk posters of the 1970s, however, I found it difficult to define my own work and still do. In the last decade I began to feel a closeness to the artist Bertrand-Jean Redon (aka Odilon Redon (1840-1916) and his approach to uncovering light in darkness in our society and himself, as opposed to just painting what I see.  I identify with Redon's statement, "While I recognize the necessity for a basis of observed reality... true art lies in a reality that is felt". 

I've continued to work in acrylic paint on canvas, developing my own language for mixing genres and cultures on my canvas. Acrylic is a.medoum you need to live with for decades and it has different character to oils. I started using then because Im allergic to solvents and then over the decades I started to love it. Now I can't think of using anything else. I've also worked in printmaking, drawing, pastel and photography but it's the acrylic that I've spent decades understanding and honing so, I guess I'll keep to that.

At the beginning, I started my creative career as a typographer and designer in the 1980s (before digital, long time ago). From 1991 I developed as a painter within my inner city art community in Northbridge, Western Australia. Today I seem to live between the cities of Perth and Melbourne and am currently based in Perth. 

I'm more of a quiet observer than a performer, though I do performance expressions as part of my research. My paintings are smaller and I seek either intimate stories or epic metaphors, layered with symbolism which might appeal to a narrower audience. People who read history like my art. My themes aren't always media friendly, which is why I've collabroated with literary journals and collaborated outside the Arts to evolve my work. In recent years I was seeking out the light in the shadows of modern conflict such as our post 9/11 world or our algorithmically-controlled culture. I'm also a history graduate,  and I get immersed in alternative histories from myth, emotion and the lives of other artists. 

In my day job I work with communities and speak with many people with lives that inspire me and bring me down to earth. Doing that work has given me great respect for the rich, private worlds that the least attention-seeking souls inhabit. A more nuanced and real world in some ways. Yet I always try and add some humour and levity along the way with even the most harrowing observations.

I have had an odd but independent career, connecting with fascinating people through little articles and features in magazines and journals of poetry, politics, and culture while exhibiting in Australia and group projects in other countries. I've remained largely self-funded and self-taught, which is both really challenging financially but incredibly liberating in that I always focus on the art.

This is my thirty second year of my art practice and it still facinates me endlessly, so expect more paintings.


Artist Statement

  

Collaborators

Dr Kyle Grayson,  24-12-2017, Senior Lecturer in International Politics at Newcastle University


"Carl's art is profoundly unique, using mixed methods and materials to create arresting images that captivate viewers. Dream-like in their presentation, and often focusing on representing the familiar in unfamiliar ways, his paintings capture moods through Carl's use of colour, symbolism, and light. I was very excited to be able to feature his 2011 painting 'There is Nothing Like a Drone' on the front cover of my recent book 'The Cultural Politics of Targeted Killing'. Feedback I have received about the cover has been excellent and the image has helped to distinguish the book from others. Carl's art work thus not only provided a memorable image that captured the essence of the book but it also contributed to giving it a distinctive identity. People continue to comment about the painting and ask me about its provenance. Such ongoing interest is a testament to Carl's talents as an artist".  (read post)

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Tyler Gore,  20-11-2012, Creative Director, Literal Latte NYC

"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." [Literal Latte Feature]

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Tikkun Daily, Laura Beckman,  18-06-11, Arts Writer, Tikkun Daily [Magazine], Berkley, CA, USA

"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]

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The Hon Jocelynne A. Scutt,  26-012-17, Human Rights Lawyer/former High Court Judge/Academic, Filmaker and Barrister at English Bar, London. UK 26-012-17

"Carl Gopalkrishnan is an artist extraordinaire! His work is visually striking, his imagination informs his artwork - splendidly, and his artistry is reflective of his capacity to incorporate political themes into his visual renditions. He works in a timely manner, too - without in any way hampering the visual appeal and depth of artistry. I recommend Carl Gopalkrishnan highly". [more]

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John Hyde,  17-11-2017, UNODC and UNDP Pacific Anti-Corruption Specialist. International Media and Innovation Mentor for the UN, Chair of the Global Organisation of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC)

"An amazing artist. Incisive and sensitive work. Hope to see more of your work Carl.".