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In Conversation: Kasper Raglus

Launching Reflections by Kasper Raglus has felt extremely significant for the Modern Times team. Not only is this an exceptional body of work that we’d be proud to present under any circumstances, but it is our very first exhibition since facing the global pandemic.

We’ve worked with Kasper for several years and he is a valued and respected member of our community. With his second solo exhibition at Modern Times (see his first here), he has blown us away again with his mesmerising paintings. To put it simply, we’re just so glad that this body of work can be celebrated and shared with the world.

A few weeks back – and at the height of Coronavirus sweeping Australia – we spoke with Kasper about creating Reflections and how this body of work will resonate with people in ways he couldn’t have imagined.

When Kasper began painting Reflections, his central theme was based on people finding love in a time of uncertainty, something immensely apt right now.

We’re pumped to have you back for a second solo exhibition Kasper. First up, can you tell us about this body of work and how it came about?

I’ve worked on these paintings for over a year now and I’m very excited to have the chance to show my works at Modern Times again this year. I think after the success of my last show at Modern Times we both agreed it would be cool to another show down the track. When I first started painting for Reflections I had a theme that would centre around people finding love in a time of uncertainty, this was in early 2019. The themes became more broad and I think the bush fires made my last works more about uplifting people and finding hope (as corny as it sounds).

Everything looks so good in the store at Modern Times so its always a great motivator to make the best paintings I can to hopefully match all the incredible furniture and art in there.

One of the greatest things about abstract art is that it can mean something different to each person. I don’t think I will ever explain exactly what a painting is ‘about’; if someone connects with a piece in one way or another, I am very pleased.”
— Kasper Raglus
Kasper says the first stages of any show are daunting as he asks himself, "how are these paintings going to be fresh and exciting?".

You’ve been exploring linear and angular motifs in your work for almost a decade now. How do you continue to push the boundaries within your work and produce exciting things?

Taking the work to new places makes it exciting for me and hopefully that resonates. Sometimes it just takes seeing one thing in particular that creates a new idea; there could be 10 new paintings that spawn from that first idea. I have learnt to let the ball start rolling and not get in my own way.

Looking back at some of my work from 2012 of course its going to be really different to what I am making now but I’m kind of proud that I’ve managed to stick to my own ‘style’. It’s always daunting at the beginning stages of a new show because the question is always; how are these paintings going to be better than the last, fresh and exciting.

While he has developed and honed his painting style, he also finds joy in taking the work in new directions.
When people see the work in person they are surprised by the brush strokes and texture from the oil paints. I never want the work to look like it was made on a computer; it must always have a hand made element to every part of the process.”
— Kasper Raglus

Your intentions for this body of work – wanting to create ‘spaces for people to look forward and back in their lives… love and new beginnings’ – seem more timely than ever. What kind of role do you think art is playing in the world right now?

With everything that has already happened this year I think it has made people really look at what they do with their time on earth and question what is truly valuable. Art is so important because it can define a time in history. The world seems to be changing so quickly so I wanted my work to give people a sense of space and freedom so maybe they can have a moment of refuge from their busy lives. I think the work is mostly optimistic and hopefully people see that I really want a sense of romance to come across.

One of the greatest things about abstract art is that it can mean something different to each person. I don’t think I will ever explain to someone exactly what a painting of mine is ‘about’ but if someone connects with a piece in one way or another I am very pleased.

"The world seems to be changing so quickly so I wanted my work to give people a sense of space and freedom so maybe they can have a moment of refuge from their busy lives," explains Kasper.

There is extreme precision and order in your paintings – your linework is seriously impressive. Where does this exactness and clarity come from and why is it so important to your work?

I think part of it comes from the great feeling you get from ‘hard work’. I could make the paintings without the lines but I like the challenge it creates and the look and feel it adds.

When people see the work in person they are surprised by the brush strokes and texture from the oil paints which sometimes can’t be picked up on Instagram for example. I never want the work to look like it was made on a computer, it must always have a hand made element to every part of the process.

Kasper's time away from the studio is just as imperative as his time spent within. He lives on Victoria's Surf Coast and surfing is a longtime passion; it helps him to think clearly and come up with new ideas.

When we spoke with you back in 2018, you told us ‘every time I paint I’m thinking about the surf, and every time I surf I’m thinking about my next painting’. Is surfing still entwined in your art making?

Surfing is definitely just as much a part of my life now as it was in primary school when I really caught the surfing bug.

The waves have been great so far this Autumn. I always feel really content after having a surf then going back to the studio, it definitely helps me come up with new ideas, rather than getting angry over the mess I left the day before.

Knowing what the waves are doing and studying the wind and sand to find better surf is a healthy obsession. I love the power in the ocean on the surf-coast, one of the pieces in this new show titled ‘Oceans’ is inspired by this.

While Kasper prefers people to decipher their own meanings from his work, he says Reflections is 'mostly optimistic' with 'a sense of romance'.

Finally, when it comes to people experiencing your work, what do you hope the biggest takeaway could be and why?

I hope people experience something that reflects their own personal lives. The paintings have a lot of space for people to create their own meaning; some of the pieces have a sense of looking into a new space, a space where you can decide on how you’re going act and feel, I like the idea that life can be like this. Everyday you can choose to be who you want and learn to be a better person. Its exciting!

The colours usually steer the paintings in certain directions but it’s always up to the individual that may or may not connect with the work.

I hope people are able to look at their life in a different perspective through my work.

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