Explore The Contemporary Absurdities in Evgen Copi Gorisek’s Paintings

Evgen Copi Gorisek (b.1994) is an emerging painter of contemporary faux naïf. His paintings deal with figurative forms of expression rendered in the attributes of graffiti and arranged in a child-like pattern. The colour-intensive compositions create a close association with ordinary topics and mass culture. Characters that are smeared with blurred facial features are his most frequent and recognisable representations. The viewer can barely identify their masculine or feminine features or it seems rather pointless to examine the matter of their agender identities. These genderless depictions- as well as other more random ones like a Ferrari diver, a tiger, a basketball player, pussy cats, or bodybuilders- synthesise a compilation of his typical motifs. As he highlights himself, his inspiration comes from “random things that he watches on his phone or just random absurd situations that he gets into while he’s walking around the city. Many times everyday city life situations combined with current feelings”.

Evgen Copi Gorisek, It could have been worse, 60 x 60 cm canvas, Acrylics and spray paint, 2020

Words: Yannis Kostarias

This imagery of human figures and objects, which tends to look 3D on the painting’s surface, flirts with more ordinary conditions that have been re-examined by this young artist. Such subjects are creatively presented based on the artist’s underlying intimate conceptions, testifying a joyful airbrushed interplay with Gorisek’s personal desires and preferences. Strikingly made with spray paint and washes of oil sticks or acrylics, Gorisek’s body of work manages to radiate frisky contradictions and disparate content. The artist’s spray techniques bring up further possibilities of light-hearted occurrences that offer a funny atmosphere and lively effect on the final result.

Blending various motifs, the Berlin-based painter starts to experiment images of ambiguity and spontaneity in his visuals through a wide spectrum of vivid colours. His compositions aesthetically balance contradictory approaches creating amusing but also absurd works for the viewers. On one hand, his depictions incorporate familiarity and attachment converting a more comprehensive iconography based on still life paintings which simply showcase tigers, rainbows, cars and motor bikes. On the other hand, strangeness co exits in his works as his characteristically enigmatic humanoid faces with the seemingly smearing and amiable grins and other ambiguous grimaces signify his imagery too. At this point, pop culture and personal memories artistically merge on the surface of his canvases. Although pop attributes radiates perky recollections derived from the artist’s life, other deeper concerns provide either a relaxed atmosphere or more ambivalent and vague painting arrangements. These works, which manage to capture real facts or surreal stories from his daily life, finally challenge or even trigger the artist’s creative skills on canvas.

Evgen Copi Gorisek, That could be my cover picture, 170 x 150 cm canvas, acrylics, spray paint and oil pastel, 2020
Evgen Copi Gorisek, That could be my cover picture,170 x 150 cm canvas, acrylics, spray paint and oil pastel, 2020

Can you tell us about the process of making your work?

I get inspired from so many different things. From random stuff that I watch on my phone, or just random absurd situation that I get into while I’m walking around the city. Many times everyday city life situations combined with current feelings.

After I get the idea of what I would like to paint, I usually make a little sketch, what I never did before, but in the last couple of months I started sketching ideas. A really rough and fast pencil sketch on paper just how all the elements would be placed on the painting. In my latest work I even started using photos that I take from Google. So I get an idea of what I would like to paint, and then search for photos that suit my idea or that I found interesting.

After that I sketch really roughly everything on the canvas, usually with airbrush and sometimes with spray paint. After that I just continue to fill the background and then the figure, that in most of my work is the main motive. After that I work on skin tones and other objects on the painting, I try to make them look 3D which is another thing that I got really interested in since I started using airbrush 4 months ago. I usually finish my paintings with some smaller interventions of oil stick or oil pastels.

How would you define your work in a few words (ideally in 3 words)?

Momental, emotional, absurd.

Can you name any artists you, lately or generally, take inspiration from?

There are so many artists that I really like, but my favorite three artists that had a big influence on me are Austin Lee, Madsaki and Katherine Bernhardt.

How do you know when a painting is finished?

In my latest works I visualise or make a sketch of how the work should look at the end so it’s not that hard to say it is finished. Sometimes I maybe add something extra that I didn’t have in plan at the beginning or sometimes I take out something that I think is too much. A lot depends on whether I’m painting from my imagination or if I’m painting from photos.

Do you believe people are getting more familiar with paintings made based on digital techniques or aesthetics?

Yes, I definitely think that more and more people are getting familiar with that. The times that we are living in are really connected with all sort of digital techniques and aesthetics, not just in art but also in other things. I think it will get an even bigger impact in the future of art and this is also why it’s important that we get familiar with that.

Evgen Copi Gorisek, Studio shot, Berlin, 2020

What about the place where you work? What’s your studio space like, and how does it affect your process?

At the moment I share a studio with two other artists in the north of Berlin. It’s a nice studio with a lots of windows that I really like, so we have lots of daylight inside. The only bad side of my studio is that I have a bit of a small place and only one wall to put canvases on, when I paint. We are looking for a new studio at the moment, because we have to move out from this one until the end of September. So I’m looking to get a bigger space with more walls to my canvases on. My part of the studio has two working tables, one is where I have all my acrylics and spray paint on and also where I sketch my ideas. And there is the other longer table where I keep airbrush colors and brushes and it’s also the messy table. When I paint I just move from one table to another, refilling the airbrush gun or putting acrylics on my pallet, moving back to the wall with the canvas. So the whole movement is in a triangle shape.

Your first group exhibition is going to take place at Plan X gallery in Milan. How does it feel for an emerging artist to participate in a gallery exhibition?

Yes, the exhibition will take place at Milan based gallery Plan X that opens on 22nd of May. The feeling is just incredible. I was really happy and excited when I got invited. The show title and its theme was really interesting and fun for me to work on, and was basically really connected to my previous works that I was doing before, so I was able to continue and develop my works and style that I’m working on lately. All the works that I made for this show are completely new and haven’t been seen before. The unfortunate thing is that because of the virus situation there will be no public opening, but the exhibition will open in a virtual way which is also kind of an interesting thing and something new for the art world. But I’m really looking forward to, when the whole situation will calm down, be able again to go to some exhibition openings.

Which exhibition did you visit last?

The last exhibition that I saw was the George Rouy solo show at Peres Projects in Berlin.

What do you hope audiences will take from your work?

I don’t really have a particular thing that I hope my audience will take from my art, because it depends a lot on what kind of works are they looking at. Sometimes they laugh which makes me happy that I made that person smile or laugh, sometimes they start questioning themselves and thinking a lot on the subject or motive that I painted. So this is maybe one thing that I like from my audience. To make them think.

Evgen Copi Gorisek, The cool kids also cry, 200 x 150 cm canvas, acrylics, spray paint and oil pastel, 2020

Are you a morning person or a night owl?

I used to be quite a night owl in the past. But in the last year and a half I have become more of a morning person. I wake up between 7.30 and 9 AM, have my breakfast while watching some series and between 11 and 1 I go to the studio where I spend the rest of the day.

Is the glass half empty or half full?

Half empty.

Which are your plans for the near future?

I recently got lots of projects for the future that I’m really happy and excited about. So my plan is definitely to keep on painting for those projects and at the same time I will be looking for a new studio. While doing all this I will also keep my fingers crossed that the whole virus situation goes over and that we will be able to start traveling again 🙂

Evgen Copi Gorisek, Cut, Copy, Paste, Group Exhibition at Plan X gallery in Milan, Italy, 2020
Evgen Copi Gorisek, That could be my profile picture, 120 x 100 cm canvas, acrylics, spray paint and oil pastel, 2020

© All images are courtesy of the artist & Plan X gallery

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