Interview: Paal Bugen
Luca Curci talks with Paal Bugen during THE BODY LANGUAGE 2021, at THE ROOM Contemporary Art Space, BARCELONA CONTEMPORARY ART FAIR 2021, 1st Edition, at Valid World Hall Gallery, LONDON CONTEMPORARY ART FAIR 2021 at THE LINE London Contemporary Art Space.
“My education is in business, finance, and then law studies. My first job was as a journalist and later editor before I switched to the stockbroking and banking industry. But I have been painting since I was a child. I found it is time to exhibit and has started to post my paintings on FB, Instagram, and Youtube, under my own name. And the response has been great. They are all from different times and series. After 9-11, I started working on the series I call “A brief history of the Dow Jones Index”. I had some meetings in Twin Towers the following week, with Cantor Fitzgerald, but they were all annihilated in the horrible attack. I picked up painting as some sort of therapy. And the outcome was 100s of paintings, made over almost 20 years. They are all easily recognizable because I write the stock indexes in them the day they have been finished. When Corona came and shutdown started, I painted The Caveman, Ancestors, The Abyss, Sympathy for the devil, Marilyn, and a lot of others in what I call The Coronaseries. I wanted to show what the shutdown did to ordinary people and families, and show the pain. In recent months I have also made a lot of portraits of deceased artists, like Freddie Mercury, John Lennon, and Leonard Cohen. And recently I started “The New American Flag-series”. I’m represented in Oslo, Stockholm, and Paris, and I cooperate with Itsliquid and M.A.D.S Milano in Italy and internationally. I make a lot of different, but almost always abstract art. My goal is often that one will see something different in the painting when one studies it. It shall bring energy to the room with beautiful colors, and some mystery to the viewer, with questions and statements I write on the canvas. In my earlier paintings, I wrote a lot on the canvas. To try to make a starting point for an intelligent conversation. For instance: “Isn’t the square root of 9 also -3?” As a reminder that the obvious answer is not always the only possible one. But it also points to a possible flaw in western mathematics. In the recent paintings, I often use symbols from our time, like the apps and the new signs and language that is developed around the last 10 years. And it is global. Everyone knows this language from their phone.”
Luca Curci – Which subject are you working on?
Paal Bugen – Right now I’m working on a series of large paintings of The new American flag, drawing their history back to about the year 1000, when the Viking Leiv Eriksson found this new continent and settled at Newfoundland. I decompose the American flag, and use the apps as the new representation of the States, and use a new color expression. Our generation is turning everything upside down, with creativity and speed that history never has seen before. I want to express our time, as totally unique. This whole series is painted on aluminum, as an everlasting medium. Unbreakable and nonflammable, but unique in its ability to transport energy. And when I cover it with its top coating, the motives will last for another 1000 years.
LC – How did you get to your current artistic practice?
PB – I have painted since I was 5 years old. Read my art history. This has been a hobby and a therapy. To get the madness out in an unharmful way. I have studied techniques and normally mix my own colors and substances. The recent years the production has been formidable, and the interest from art lovers has been formidable and very pleasant. So I left investment banking and work full-time painting. Took my time back. And own the results.
LC – What is the most challenging part about creating your artworks?
PB – The development of the idea that can transform a space and fill it with colors and give fresh energy to the audience. I want viewers to start wondering. Be curious. Ask questions. Get some emotions. And always be able to see new perspectives and discover new things in the painting.
LC – Do visitors’ suggestions enrich yourself and your art?
PB – I always listen to other ideas and inputs. I am lucky enough to know many gifted people, that supply an endless stream of inspiration and energy into my life and works.
LC – How do you feel when you see your work completed?
PB – Maybe exhausted. But sometimes I let them stand for a while and try to find out more about what they try to tell me. Some changes a lot in a different light. And I often repaint something. Change colors and impressions. When it is totally finished, I write that day’s Dow Jones stock market index somewhere in the painting.
LC – What do you think about the concept of this festival? How did it inspire you?
PB – I love to see contemporary art and the idea of gathering many artists. Observing the works of some genius artists is a huge inspiration and a necessity for me. As I write in one painting: Earth – art = E…h. Unfortunately, this year’s unpredictable traveling situation has left me stranded, but I love to travel to art fairs and visit exhibitions all over the world. Mostly contemporary art. While the perfect perspective paintings managed to disturb art development for 100s of years, the creativity in today’s art world is really battling to keep up with the tempo from many other sciences and professions. And even large galleries expand their art purchasing to include computer programs, digital art, cars, and intellectual property.
LC – Can you explain something about the artworks you have in our exhibition?
PB – All 5 were painted during Corona shutdowns last year. I lived in Luxembourg and was not allowed outdoors unless you bought food etc. The exhibit is digital prints on aluminum 60×40 cm, while the originals are 150×100 cm. “The Abyss” is about people that lost their jobs, safety is suddenly taken from them. The fall into the uncertain. “Can You see Marilyn?” Is a painting that changes with the covid-distance 1-3-5 meters. “Ancestors” was a lot of faces that demanded attention. Back in history, people prayed to their ancestors to give them strength in troubled times. “The Caveman”. During the shutdown, everyone had to stay in their caves for weeks. So I made a cave painting, with some energic colors. ”Dancing with the devils” In isolation, people’s thoughts can turn rather unhealthy. I listened to Rolling Stone’s “Sympathy for the devil”, drunk wine, and wrote a lot of shit about the government on social media. (I later deleted it).
LC – Do you think ITSLIQUID GROUP can represent an opportunity for artists?
PB – Absolutely a way to connect with the art world. I choose to seek cooperation with ItsLiquid because I see that you have ambitions (and so have I) and arrange a lot of exciting exhibits.
LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
PB – When I look for partners I have some criteria; Intelligence, energy, and enthusiasm. I believe I found that in you. I see you have a lot of things going on, your designs and web solutions work, and you show dedication to what you do. I like to have physical exhibits because I think buyers will see and touch the art they buy.
LC – What are your suggestions about our services? Is there something more we can provide to artists?
PB – Owners must always ask: “Where are the money in my business?” Probably that also includes connecting art lovers and artists on the web. But then the presentation of the works must be a little bit more exclusive. Most of my gallery partners have online sales and understand that I also like to sell prints because that is an alternative for people with smaller purchase budgets but in total an enormous purchasing power.