We Interview Kasper Raglus

“For this new series of paintings I wanted to continue my exploration of physical and mental space. Creating the work during such an uncertain time influenced the colours and structure.”
Local painter and musician Kasper Raglus plays a long game. Ignoring external distractions, he has steadfastly continued to refine the formal elements and pictorial symbols that populate his own singular sphere of geometric abstraction. The signature linear and angular motifs Kasper has employed and explored for almost a decade now contain internal and external worlds both macro and micro and constitute both an architecture of rigorous linear formality, and an intimate inner world of romanticism and human possibilities.

The clarity and continuity of Raglus’ work stem not from any cold machine aesthetic, but from immaculately rendered linework and a bold colour palette, combined with a keen richness of character and daily dedication to his craft. Though physically contained within the picture plane, Kasper’s painterly minimalism wilfully escapes the constraining logic of the prison as it pushes and pulls the viewer in, out and away from the vagaries of their daily existence.

Positive and negative space coexist there, as they have always done – always with the promise and possibility of movement and freedom.

Our Gallery Manager Dylan Foley asked Kasper some questions, read on for a bit of insight into his wider arts practice.

Can you tell me more about growing up with a prolific, well known Artist as a Dad and how that influenced you?

I think seeing first hand the everyday life of my dad working as an artist had a big influence on how I approach things now in my career. Dad always worked really hard and put heaps of hours in the studio. We spent a lot of time around dad’s exhibitions and I think I had some great eye opening experiences there too. Meeting some really unique characters who ran galleries in the 90’s like Ray Hughes or the crew at Mambo was awesome and now that times have changed so much

I think back and feel lucky to have been exposed to stuff like that.

 

Music, Cars and Surfing are other interests of yours, do these things connect to or inspire your arts practice? 

It most definitely connects back to my painting. Even just the mind frame surfing or working on old cars puts you in.

I’m always searching to put feelings into my work in a way that I can’t describe to people in words, but sometimes it just works and I don’t need to describe the painting at all. Surfing is like that, you could try to explain it for hours on end but never be able to really nail how it feels to ride waves.

I have seen your paintings evolve over time and progress to more and more (seemingly) simple shapes and linework. There is a real confidence in your current work, your style and palette are so refined and the paintings are very well resolved. Can you discuss this evolution, what led you to pursuing this approach?

I think when I started painting seriously I really wanted to have a style that was mine. Once I kind of found that I knew I could spend the rest of my life refining and following that style to new places. Once I had ‘my style’ I knew I could take any outside influence and apply it to make new ideas for myself. I always loved simple shapes and colours now I have the chance to really push that into my work. I feel much more confident now that I can pull off a ‘Hard Edge’ or ‘Minimalist’ painting now that I have been painting seriously for nearly 10 years. I like the feeling of taking a chance on something that at first feels like I couldn’t pull off. I also love setting the bar higher for myself when it comes to mixing colours and the ‘finish’ of the painting. Something else my dad showed me was keeping brush strokes going in one direction through the paintings for example.

 

I am so interested in your process, in looking at the finished paintings there seems to be so much control and restraint in your works. How do compositions and colour choices form? How painstaking is the linework? Do you work ever work intuitively or are works planned out before commencing?

I used to sketch out ideas a lot more but these days I think it’s more like one paintings leads to the other and the process is more intuitive. My sketches now are more like notes of colours I want to combine. The paintings can be painstaking but I usually have a few on the go so if I get sick of line-work I can move on to something else for a while. I spent a lot of time mixing the oil colours and experimenting. It doesn’t always work out but you learn something new every time.

 

We discussed routines when you delivered the work. Can you tell me about a studio day in the life of Kasper? 

I try to get up really early on my studio days and go surfing first, then I go from working on commissions and paintings for an exhibition if that’s happening to prepping boards to become new works. I like to start the day off kind of mellow maybe listen to some soft music and just stare at the paintings or ideas I’m working on.

After lunch I try to bust out as much painting as I can do and work into the night. A few coffees and maybe a glass of wine at the end of the day to reflect on the works in progress. 

I feel like there is endless potential within the sphere of geometric abstraction, do you think you have found your niche and that you will continue this exploration or are there other things you want to pursue?   

I think whatever comes next will be a natural progression, I don’t think I will up and change my style overnight. I like to think that I can morph my paintings anyway I choose but there will always be a slow progression from one painting to the next.

I agree that it feels like there is endless potential and that gets me excited to see what I can find.

 

How are you surviving round 2 of restrictions?

My family and I are very fortunate to live somewhere rural so we are not feeling the full effect of stage 4 lockdowns like in Melbourne, but It’s hard right now to stay positive when the future seems so uncertain. All anyone can do is try their best to help others and stay healthy. I have been painting a lot so hopefully when this is all over I have something good to show for it.

 

Tell us a fun fact?

When I was four years old dad left me alone in his studio and I painted black all over his painting that he had been working on for weeks.

Kasper’s solo show Never Over runs until September 6. To see the listing click here.