Somewhat reluctantly, Carl relates to the term 'old school' in ways that people who use that term lightly don't always appreciate. When he graduated from design, they were just introducing the first Apple Macs into his design classes. They were still using bromide camera, glue and typesetting for his typography class where his lecturers made them do manual character counts (mathematically calculating how type fits) in the shape of light bulbs.

"We all hated that", he laughs, but he appreciated the eight hours of drawing for three years which made him move into fine art and find work at the Bridge Gallery in Northbridge which contemporaries have compared to Sydney's Yellow House, a hotbed for Perth's avant garde and experimental artists in the 1980s and 90s.

He still writes in his journal with the same fountain pen he used for the drawings in his 2006 exhibition and remains meticulous about the foundation research and surface preparation of his paintings.

His acrylic paintings and works on paper move from mixed media and traditional painting techniques to printmaking, drawing and the written word. In the last decade Carl has researched and explored the cultures which construct our geopolitical conflict, our national identity and our fears of a post-human future. ThIs conscious information help him to construct unconscious aor (or subconscious) narratives on the canvas.

On his artistic influences Carl says, "The Visionary and Surreal Art movements make perfect sense to me even since my teens. They help me to paint our contemporary, our digital identities, and to be inspired by, rather than repeat, past aesthetics. This keeps me experimenting with the medium of painting. I've been influenced by street art in the 90s, Leonora Carrington, Jean-Michel Basquiat, pulp novels from the 1940s and 60s and then again, ancient drawings and alchemists studies. But then at the very beginning, I was obsessed with punk album covers and poster art, so...a lot of variety visually speaking".

He considers painting a tough battleground of ideas and a discipline. He explains that “painting is the antithesis of our current ‘undo ‘culture. When you put down the paint-good or bad - you have to work with it and make it work and accept the temporal nature of that time and place in your life. Painting requires little acts of commitment to complete the story. It also needs research and contemplation. I paint even when I’m not painting”.                            

Born in the UK in 1967, Carl Gopalkrishnan (aka Gopal) began working as a typographer and designer after studying graphic design in Perth, Western Australia. While working as a designer he continued to paint, but it was not until he worked in a small art gallery in the 90s, combining practical learning from his peers with academic study in sociology and history, that Carl understood that painting was his ‘thing’.

After completing a BA in History, and later a First Class Honours in Sociology, Carl began collaborating between the worlds of academia, art, politics, music and the company of strangers. He travels to research his paintings and collaborates as often as he can with other artists, scientists, philosophers, indeed, anyone with any experience that can help him to fill in “the story” in his paintings. These friendships, he feels,  can lead to deeper insights that formal education and just"googling" can never replace, as evidenced by the current state of world affairs.

Carl's paintings are guided by our history of thought.

"I love Ralph Waldo Emerson's (1802-83) essay Prospect where he wrote, '...there are far more excellent qualities in the student than preciseness and infallibility; (and) a guess is often more fruitful than an indisputable affirmation, and that a dream may lead us deeper into the secret of nature than a hundred concerted experiments'. E.M Forster's concept of the 'aristocracy of the sensitive' remains my moral compass for choosing close friends, and my work resonates with the late historian Alex Danchev's aim to put imagination to work in service of historical, political and ethical inquiry.".

With those sentiments, Carl likes to reach across dividing dogmas bridging different ideas. He has presented his art at international intervention workshops in the UK, painted portraits of leading quantum physicists and developed his ideas on how cultural politics and technology is changing the human story. Unrushed, Carl follows his art, most often showing his work every 5 years. He has held 5 solo exhibitions in Australia and group.  projects internationally.

Outside of exhibiting, Carl has been widely published in international magazines and journals of poetry, politics and culture writing about his work and on the power of creativity to affect social change. He is a member of the National Association of the Visual Arts (NAVA). A self funded artist Carl also works as a policy and advocacy specialist in Melbourne and also volunteers as a mentor with culturally diverse youth.  All these parts of his life inform his paintings.                                        





Observations from colleagues

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)

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]

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]

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]

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.".