Axel Balazsi just began an MFA program at Goldsmiths this term, and it's exciting to see how his current work blends installation, painting, and illustration, and is influenced by cartoons, masks, pop culture, and graffiti. More at the links below!
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Tell me a little bit about you!
Originally I am from Sweden, but since I was 7 years old I lived in Spain. When it was time for me to begin my academic studies at a university I decided I wanted to go to London and study Fine Art. Luckily I got accepted for the Bachelor program at Wimbledon College of Arts which I have now graduated from in 2017. As I wanted to continue to study Fine Art in order to develop the language I have built up over the past 3 years, I began to apply for a MFA program in Fine Art, so now in September I will begin my Full-Time studies at Goldsmiths University which I am very excited about.
When did you first discover art, or realize you wanted to make it yourself?
The interest of art has always been there for me since I was a teenager, what made me realize why I wanted to create was actually because of public art. As I used to skateboard a lot back in Spain I was always surrounded by the street environment, and I got very curious by the fact that society had made room for art on the streets such as sculptures. It was something very attracting for me to see art work outside of the gallery room, for some reason it felt more alive. So when I started realizing this I began to take loads of photographies of things on the street that wasn't necessarily sculptures, it could be garbage bags, left over wheels from cars, etc. for me it was like those forgotten things that we see in our daily life but we don't really reflect over them could also be art. So ever since then I have been creating stuff in different mediums such as painting, sculptures and installations.
What is your process like?
Sometimes I do some research or planning in advance before I start a new project. But when I'm finding myself within the process of making the work I can also be very spontaneous, because I wish that the process can take me to different avenues which later on creates new contexts for my work, and the outcome of the work becomes surprising even for me, its like I am searching for something beyond my own knowledge, almost like I'm trying to learn from the process itself. But to open up the process even more I usually work on many different things at the same time, usually between 5-10 things from sculptures to paintings. It doesn't necessarily have to take a long time for me to finish a piece, sometimes it can take a few hours and sometimes it can take weeks, but to be honest I've never seen this as an important factor for my practice.
I explore the relationship between image, surface, object and space, through the form of installations. The graphic language, appropriated from everyday visual culture and primitive masks, is turned into new hybrid shapes of figurations. The bodily figures are put into an endless conversation with the spatial structure and the imagery of itself. The installation turns into a space where the abstract becomes tangible yet slips away into its own logic.
Do you have a mentor, or a piece of advice (or both), which has influenced your practice?
Even if I've had great mentors from my university who are artists who I respect a lot, I think that the most important person for my practice has always been my father. He taught me many things, about life, loyalty, courage, but something I will never forget is when he told me is: "Axel, if you are interested and want to learn something, never forget to be curious!". At first I didn't understand what he meant by telling me that, but now I know he was trying to tell me that learning is freedom and its something you can never get enough from.
Describe your studio.
As I am still in university I am sharing studios with fellow artists and friends. But I think this is such an amazing environment and privilege to be part of. You find yourself in such a cool environment with people who has different practices and you see so many different things, you exchange ideas and ideologies with each other which is a very unique experience. There is nothing more mind blowing for me than going in to my friends studio spaces and see their achievements. But my own studio space is always very messy, so everyday I go in and before I start working I organize "yesterday's chaos".
If you could sit down for dinner or a drink with anyone, who would it be and what would you chat about?
I think it would be the artist Marina Abramovic, not that she has been an influence on my work or anything, but I find her very interesting as a person, she is definitely one of the artists that I respect most right now. And I hope we could just chat about anything and see where the conversation would end up at.
What are three words you would use to describe your work?
What do you do when you find yourself in a creative rut?
I start experimenting with different mediums and I try to push myself out from my comfort zone. And this usually goes on for a longer period but all of a sudden everything starts to "click" again.
But I also find it very useful to do yoga, I practice Ashtanga yoga everyday at 6 o'clock in th morning and I think this time during the day when there isn't many people up yet, and you start your day with exercising, it clears your mind a lot, which brings you in to a healthy state of mind.
What do you love most about your medium? What challenges or surprises you most about it?
I really like how the mediums can bring its own context in to the work and how it will be read and understood by the audience. But it also opens up new possibilities for your practice which is very important for me as I am an mixed media artist.
What do you need or value most as an artist?
What I value most as an artist is the freedom it gives me.
What keeps you creating?: The fact that it makes me feel more alive than anything else, when I see something that I have created by myself it liberates me and makes me feel useful.
What are you working on right now?
Right now I am working on different proposals on a set/installation that I will be making with an artist called Gary Card for fashion week now in September. It's a very interesting project and it's my first time working with Gary, which is very exciting.
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