Tomasz Kobialka

Tomasz Kobialka, Oil on canvas #6, 2013. Pigment linseed oil, safflower oil, beeswax 15 x 103 cm Tomasz Kobialka, Oil on canvas #6, 2013. Available now on Sleek-Art

Polish-born and Berlin-based artist Tomasz Kobialka has come far from his days dabbling in graffiti. Originally using art to reclaim abandoned spaces, Kobialka has moved his practice into the studio, where he reclaims classical and medieval oil paint recipes. By researching the recipes and ingredients that made up his paint sets, Kobialka uses his studies in colour to create work somewhere in between traditional paintings and sculptures, exploring notions of masculinity, materiality and the sublime. Sleek-Art spoke with Kobialka about the roots of his practice and how he has since branched out.

Let's start with your background in art: how did you become a painter?

I got into painting through graffiti; I kind of got bored of painting graffiti slowly, after a period of time. I started doing more studio work when I moved to Berlin about four or five years ago – I had been painting a lot in abandoned buildings for the first two years: every weekend I would go out with some friends and we would just be painting, and used various places around the city. Slowly, these spaces got closed down and you can only paint them in the summer, so in the winter, I gradually started doing studio work full-time.

Heat Transfer short from Rich Glorious on Vimeo.

Can you tell me about the early works that you did? How has your practice shifted and what has influenced you?

In Berlin, I started going to galleries and became interested in more painting. It was like a natural step, I think. I got into acrylic painting and then I was obsessed with how the colours of acrylic painting work. I just stripped everything back and concentrated on the material – just on paint. I looked into what paint was, what were its constituents, from a raw material perspective, I guess. I started experimenting.

Tomasz Kobialka, Black Gunk, 2014. Pigment linseed oil, beeswax, acrylic plastic. 30 x 50 x 8 cm Tomasz Kobialka, Black Gunk, 2014. Available now on Sleek-Art

How does your background working as a programmer affect this?

That is why I have no interest in making artwork on the internet. For my medium, I buy a lot of things off the internet that I use in my works, of course, like tools and supplies; I certainly read a lot of new media philosophies and I'm aware of the work that can be classified as such. I’m just much more interested in the materials.

Could you tell me what your major influences are: artists, writers, etc?

I like artists that are materially-driven but have a strong conceptual framework. I really like artists that are influenced by philosophy.

How important is that – a basis in research and in philosophy – to your own practice? 

I've always been interested in philosophy. If there is a way that I can apply it to my practice, that's fantastic. I do read a lot and I used that as a filter for my ideas. I definitely like the direction that I'm going in. There's only a little research that I'm doing; I am very materially driven and I don't have that kind of educational backing. But I am certainly interested in engaging in socio-historical and psychological discourses.

Interview by Amy Binding

Tomasz Kobialka’s work is available on Sleek-Art