Carl Gopal Melbourne 2017

Carl’s passion for excavating the stories from a blank canvas spans three decades. He explores  the small gestures we select to define ourselves and the historical turning points that shape us. 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 he has researched and explored the cultures which construct our geopolitical conflict, our national identity and our fears of a post-human future.

About his drive to paint he says, "If anything else, I'm happy if my life leaves a paper trail for someone else to make sense of, because I learn so much from my art practice, and I struggle to put it into words. That's why I paint. The Visionary and Surreal Art movements make perfect sense to me because of that. They are my normal glasses so to speak"

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 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, he 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 anyone that can help him to fill in “the story” in his paintings. These friendships lead to insights that books and the internet can never replace.

Carl likes to reach across dividing dogmas. 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. Most often showing his work every 5 years, Carl 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. 

In 2017 his cover art for Dr Kyle Grayson's book Cultural Politics of Targeted Killing - On Drones, Counter-Insurgency, and Violence (Routledge, London, UK) will be released. It builds on his work in policy workshops on international intervention, and the role of culture in how political decisions shape our changing world.

After taking a break between 2014-2016, Carl is now working on new paintings. See more in his gallery Strange Fruit.

Exhibitions and Projects>


Media Posts>


"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]
Tikkun Daily, Laura Beckman
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." [Literal Latte Feature]
Literal Latte NYC, Tyler Gore
Creative Director, Literal Latte. New York City, USA 2012
"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]
The Hon Jocelynne A. Scutt 
Human Rights Lawyer/former High Court Judge/Academic, Barrister and member of the Inner Temple, London. UK 03-05-12
"Carl incorporated Kimberly colours from my time running Theatre Kimberly in the north-west and the subtle reference to 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".
John Hyde
UN Pacific Regional Anti-Corruption Specialist, Australia 2011
Deputy Director of the Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development (AFPPD)
Chair of the Global Organisation of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC) Oceania Region and a Board Member of International GOPAC