My journey as a visual artist began in 1987 and has focused on exploring our waking dreams and our public and private myths through paintings on acrylic on canvas, drawings and painting on paper, printmaking and mixed media. Outside of exhibitions I have been widely published in international magazines and journals of poetry, politics and culture in various fields. I contribute ideas and concepts with others in collaborations that help me to better understand the world I live in.
Painting is the antithesis of our current "undo" culture
Writing about the importance of art and creative thinking in the public and private consciousness has become an extension of my visual art practice. These ideas focus on the opportunities and risks that creative energies bring to society and our individual problems and challenges. I also believe that painting as a craft and discipline still has a lot to impart to our technologically driven world. It is not like photoshop. When you put down the paint-good or bad decision-you have to work with it and make it work and accept the temporal nature of that specific time and place in your life and the world you live in. Painting is the antithesis of our current "undo" culture. It requires little acts if commitment to complete a painting.
Art has been at the heart of politics, literature, science and our spiritual quests for centuries, so this is not exactly new, however I find that for a global society we still fail to connect the dots between art and the rest of life. Understanding all about that is a part of my process as a painter.
I'm fortunate to have receieved a good education, and work as a researcher and writer in other sectors to earn a living. This interface between my art and research is something that has always been there. So when I add my more personal experiences to this questioning process, the images on my canvases develop a look of their own that many have told me is outside of many contemporary art styles. Mixing painting styles on canvas is also a hallmark of my work, as well as developing a series of paintings that are sometimes inspired by a theme, object or person. I have combined stencils with collage and acrylic brush painting while blending images with text.
Born in the UK, I began working as a typographer and designer after studying graphic design in Perth, Western Australia. While working as a designer I continued to paint, but it was not until I worked in a small art gallery in the 90s, combining practical learning from my peers with academic study, that I understood that painting was my ‘thing’. After completing my BA in History, and later a First Class Honours in Sociology, I began an unusual journey collaborating between the worlds of academia, art, politics, music and the company of strangers. This happened more often after 9/11 and for a while my paintings became very involved with what was happening in the world politically and socially. I find I am still observing changes that are unique to history as we are living through what historians call a turning point.
The cover for Kyle's book works for me because it expresses my fascination with the cultural politics within my paintings in my last two exhibitions.
This era has led me 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. I became very interested in the way science and art interact along the way. I also continued my experimental nature, mixing media and themes together on the canvas in a way that I hope pushed the boundaries of the painting process.
In 2013 I held my 5th solo exhibition titled The Assassination of Judy Garland (2008-12), in which I showed the results of this last series. I explored a metaphorical portrait of America, and tried to make sense of the current global political crisis using a queer cultural lens. The visual language was inspired by American magazine illustrations from the 1930s and 1960s pulp paperback novels. Developing this into an original visual language was hugely enjoyable.
The series completed a decade long body of work that examined the motives behind the post 9/11 war on terror narrative. It included my 2006 exhibition Sedition and Other Bedtime Stories, and various interviews writings and journal articles. In 2012 my regular gallery closed down and I am working on group shows, commissions and publishing projects while looking for a space with the right fit. My new paintings are often posted on my studio blog on this site. In 2017 I have cover art coming out for Dr Kyle Grayson's book Cultural Politics of Targeted Killing - On Drones, Counter-Insurgency, and Violence (Routledge, London, UK). The cover for Kyle's book w0rks for me because it expresses my fascination with the cultural politics within my paintings in my last two exhibitions. I'm concurrently working on two collections of paintings: The Resurrection of the Tin Man; and True North. More about those in the coming few months.
About Carl Gopal
"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]
The Hon 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]
UN Pacific Regional Anti-Corruption Specialist
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
"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."
Creative Director, Literal Latte. New York City, USA 2012