carl gopal by amanda brown 2012

About Carl Gopal

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, 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 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.


People I work with...

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]

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)

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.".