King Tide is the latest exhibition of minimalist work by emerging Victorian artist Kasper Raglus. Working from his in-home studio in beautiful Aireys Inlet, Kasper draws on his surroundings for inspiration, filling his days with art, music and surf. We sat down with Kasper to delve deeper into his practice and what it means to be an emerging contemporary artist.
Let us begin with this exhibition; this is a significant body of work for you. Can you tell us a bit about this series, what would you say is the underlying theme for the works?
King Tide is about capturing moments in life at their peak, I wanted the paintings to be symbolic of things like romance, death and change. There is a strength that comes with experience and change in life, I wanted to tap into that.
Can you tell us a bit about the geometry in your work. How did this come about and what have you uncovered exploring this?
About 6 years ago now I was searching for a style of my own to paint with, I always wanted to paint in a minimal way but was unsure of exactly what direction to go with. A combination of things I saw in illustration work and fine art must of had an affect on me because I started referencing this diamond shape. Over time it has been a continued process of refining the for, its perspectives and the colour palette. I really think the possibilities are endless when it comes to geometric and minimal paintings. It’s still very exciting to me and I like the idea of people recognising my work even when it is quiet minimal.
In this serise this geometric shape which has made your work familiar to us, has been cropped either by the edges of the surface or by your colour blocks. Can you reveal how this came about and what you have uncovered during the process of making this work?
I am pretty sure it came from taking pictures of parts of my paintings, I liked the look and feel of my work cropped intentionally. I decided to try and make a painting that looked like the cropped photo then quickly realised it opened up a whole lot of ideas for even more minimal representation, which let me concentrate on colour and balance in a new and more focused way.
So colour is particularly important of course. Can you tell us a bit about what colour means to you when making a work?
I wanted to use some colours I hadn’t tried before in this series. I feel like I have learned to spend a lot more time mixing colours on the painter’s palate and in terms of undercoating. I aim to get them to a point that the colour reflects the mood I wanted to capture in the painting. Some of the pieces, in my mind, are very romantic and the colours evoke a sense of that to me.
In considering the general scope of minimalism, what about this style of work is most appealing to you as an artist?
I think minimal art lets you have room to think about your own life and I really like the idea of that. I always liked minimal art even when I was a kid and I didn’t have a reason why, maybe that’s also a part of it, the fact that a painting can mean anything to anyone who cares to look at it.
Let’s come back to you for a minute, you live by the coast and have a strong passion for surfing, can you run us through a typical day perhaps? Do you paint first or surf first?
It feels like every time I paint I’m thinking about the surf, and every time I surf I’m thinking about the next painting I want to start. Everyone has an addiction, for me that’s surfing, it definitely gets me out of bed.
Being connected to the tide, wind and swell as a daily routine is so rewarding in subtle ways. Surfing also has a great sub-culture full of personalities and many of them happen to make art. I would even say certain shapers (of surfboards) are artists in their own right. I will never forget the first wave my dad pushed me into, the sound of the board cutting into the green face of the wave and the sensation on the swell pushing you along is something that I can’t explain in words.
Aside from the amazing experience of surfing, what else are you presently inspired by— are there particular things you are reading, listening to or looking at to fuel your work?
It’s hard not to mention music first, the lyrics and sound just inspire so much in me, especially when I am in the studio.
Visiting Japan right before I started painting heavily for this show was a great inspiration too. I think the ethic in Japan with regard to day-to-day life was really amazing to be immersed in, a sense of pride and simplicity in every person’s life/work was so refreshing to see.
I visited Chichu Art Museum on the Island Of Naoshima and the entrance alone felt like being inside one of my paintings. The strong geometric shapes of architecture and sky lights exposing super stark colours – that, to me – let your brain have so much space to think and appreciate the art within. My painting ‘King Tide’ is a direct example of influence from that visit.
Ultimately my personal life will always play a huge part in my work, but I know all the things I feel in life, other people feel too, and that is where I get really inspired because through my paintings I’m having a conversation with other people who may never meet me in real life.
The ocean and land where I live on the surf coast of Victoria plays a part as well, there is a space and solitude that I love about living in a small town and that has made me go even more minimal and concentrate on colours I see when I’m in the water or on a walk between studio time.
Finally, do you have a motto or a philosophy you apply to your art making?
Something that has stuck with me so far is trying my best to be original in my work, and most of all I want people to see themselves and their lives in the paintings.
That’s a beautiful idea to end on Kasper. Thank you so much for telling us a bit more about yourself and your work!