Ziggy Grudzinskas’ (b. 1982) aesthetic practice encapsulates fundamental components of gestural abstraction. His recent body of work evidently reveals more vague compositions of spontaneous and unintentional gestures. These polymorphous arrangements are shaped by irregular lines, curls and forms. They are unsystematically dominating large canvases and remarkably bringing up the idea of unorthodox approach to painterly abstract practice. Inconsistent scribbles and free-flowing doodles characterise Grudzinskas’ expressionist artworks, which are explored by diverse methods, such as spray paint, charcoal, graphite acrylic or ink on polyester. There is a vast array of mediums that emerge on his elaborate creative practice enhancing the visual toggling between colours, patterns and forms. Thus, their mixture favours an ongoing optical overlapping between these mediums, each one underscoring the structural qualities and the chromatic interplay of the other. Yet the impulsive narrative of his works present unconventional forms that have been rendered in different layered marks and spontaneous painting labour.
Words: Yannis Kostarias
The slovenly rendered lines do not dissuade the production of clear meanings, but aim to construct a new painterly language, which relies on dynamic blended marks and the artist’s ability to manipulate notions of control and space. Control versus impulsiveness creates an intellectual challenge, which seeks further investigation and seems rather complex as the painting result on canvas indicates; the artist puts an emphasis on an energetic visual syntax highlighted by a laborious contrast of gestures.
His recent paintings Perpetual Persistence (2019) and Inevitable Consequences (2019) characteristically embody varied expressive compositions contradicting the framework between foreground and background, and developing the illusion of atmospheric space. Both paintings’ chromatic palette is based on grey tones and tend to appear more aesthetically sophisticated and systematically chaotic. On the contrary, paintings such as Indubitably (2019) or Contradiction (2018) imbue similar aesthetic qualities but manage to reveal a more hasty marking style, spontaneous attitude and dense applications of purple and blue colours. Grudzinskas increases the painting’s tension by adding thick proportions of grey acrylic paint on the surface and consequently offers an alternative dimension to the work, thus triggering additional ideas on materiality. Mixing these varied mediums, Grudzinskas proves that their contribution has not embedded a singular significance on the final result, but a collaborative value that favours the entire development of the painting.
Born is Sydney, Australia, Ziggy Grudzinskas (b. 1982) lives and works in London. In 2010 he received his BA in Painting from the Camberwell College of Arts. The artist continued his studies at the Royal Academy Schools completing his Post Graduate Diploma in Fine Art. His work has been exhibited in many galleries in the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany and Italy. In 2014, the artist won the Royal Academy Schools Hiscox Scholarship, while his work is also held in the Royal Academy of Arts Collection.
AV: Can you tell us about the process of making your work?
ZG: Generally speaking, they’re made up of 2/3 layers of polyester. The base layer is the ground then the top layer is painted on both sides. The final picture comes from the combination of these layers, not just the image on the surface.
AV: How would you define your work in a few words (ideally in 3 words)?
ZG: Expanded Abstract Painting.
AV: Observing your work, it feels like there is a spontaneous, almost automatic, painting technique that significantly characterizes your recent body of work. If this applies to your artistry, does the painting result come from unexpected hand movements or some kind of controlled or pre-planned experiments instead?
ZG: It’s mostly a free form drawing process that comes out of reacting to each previous stage. There will be a couple of pre-set parameters, but the composition grows out from this starting point.
AV: Do you consider yourself fully devoted in abstraction or does figurative or semi-figurative painting style has passed from your mind at all?
ZG: Mainly I’m concerned with the abstract, the hope is that a figure is animated in the viewers’ mind. Inadvertently figurative elements slip in, but that isn’t the main intention.
AV: Can you name any artists you, lately or generally, take inspiration from?
ZG: Mark Rothko and James Turrell.
AV: How do you know when a painting is finished?
ZG: Just before the anxiety kicks in, making sure not to add too much.
AV: What about the place where you work? What’s your studio space like, and how does it affect your process and where is it now based?
ZG: I’ve literally just moved out of my last studio that was an old Georgian house in Kennington, London. It was a private guardianship situation, so I had to make sure it was tidy. When painting – I’d set up, spread out, get busy/messy and then when finished I’d pack down. It helped to keep that spontaneity you referred to earlier and removed the constraints of limited space.
AV: Which exhibition did you visit last?
ZG: Phillip Allen at The Approach.
AV: What do you hope viewers can take from your paintings?
ZG: I hope that the paintings perform like a mirror that also animates the viewers mind both inwards and outwards to the space around them.
AV: Are you a morning person or a night owl?
AV: Is the glass half empty or half full?
ZG: I’m an optimist.
ZG: Normally I use materials that are more suited to traditional exhibiting spaces and not exposed to the elements. As with another recent work I’ve exhibited outside, I’ll be using a similar multi layered approach. The works will be a lot larger than normal and made using the the leftover paint covered drop sheets that protected the walls and studio floor.
AV: Which are your plans for the near future?
ZG: Moving into a new studio in Stockwell. After closing The Kennington Residency I’m on the search for other possibilities to share disused spaces with artists. Also, I’ll be exhibiting new work at River Street – a project space run by Joel Wyllie and Leila Al-Yousuf.
© All images are courtesy of the artist