Carl began his journey as a painter in 1987, and he has been exploring our waking dreams and our public and private myths ever since. His art draws inspiration from religion, science, mythology, politics & popular culture; and is filtered onto the canvas through his life experiences.
Most people have come to know Carl's work from his most recent series - The Assassination of Judy Garland (2008-12) - which explores a metaphorical portrait of America. It attempts to make sense of the current global political crisis using a queer cultural lens and builds on a decade long body of work that explores the post 9/11 narrative and includes his 2006 exhibition Sedition and Other Bedtime Stories
Born in 1967 in the UK, he began his career as a typographer and designer after studying graphic design in Perth, Western Australia. He is a self-taught painter, having worked in a small gallery in the 90s combining practical learning from his peers with academic study. Coming from a mixed heritage of Chinese, Indian and British influences has made him an outsider in many ways, but also a keen observer of how the cultural lens influences the way we interact with the world and each other. It has also helped him to appreciate the strange humour between darkness and light.
Preferring a less conventional road map Carl developed his own process through a mixture of artistic experimentation, extensive research and reflective spaces that allow for emotions. Published in international magazines and journals of poetry, politics and culture, Carl collaborates with people and centres of learning related to his work in progress. He has never applied for public funding to secure his artistic practice; and continues to work in other fields to fund his art, appreciating both the difficulties and knowledge this brings.
After completing his BA in History in 1993, and later a First Class Honours (in Sociology) from Murdoch University Carl began, but later withdrew from, doctoral studies in Melbourne. He made a conscious decision to use his art as his lens and began an unusual journey collaborating between the worlds of academia, art, politics, music and the company of strangers. He believes that it is better for artists to risk ridicule than irrelevance.
This website mainly chronicles his decade-long series about our post 9/11 world with early work included in the galleries. His blog is the Studio Diary.
Outside of his painting career...
After studying design in the 80s Carl worked in textiles and fashion in Melbourne. He then spent several years working in a small art gallery in Western Australia while studying his degree in History at Murdoch University. This led to work as a sub-editor, editor and designer in publishing in the 90s. At this time he also lectured and tutored at Edith Cowan University in Design. He returned to finish his honours in Sociology in 1999 at Murdoch which resulted in a First Class Honours Pass and a scholarship to continue with PhD studies at The University of Melbourne. Despite completing 3 years of academic research, he chose to withdrew from his PhD in 2003 to work in the community and public sector for the next 7 years in diverse roles such as researcher, policy officer and community educator. Since late 2012 he has worked as a freelance consultant in writing and editing while continuing with his art.
"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]
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
"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]
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]
John Hyde, MLA Western Australia
Out in Perth, Writer: Amy Henderson, 2010