Get ready kids! This guys gonna blow your mind. Welcome to the world of Kasper Raglus. Kasper grew up surrounded by, and wearing the artwork of his dad, Jeff Raglus, a well known Australian Mambo illustrator. After a brief graphic art course and a trip to California in his 20’s, Kasper was inspired to get into the studio and make insanely cool, unique art. He now lives on the coast, painting, surfing and living the artists dream. Lucky for us, Kasper and Jeff are currently exhibiting at Outre Gallery in Sydney and Melbourne. Get in quick, the show ends 1st May.
Tell us a bit about you and some of the major influences that got you here. I’m twenty three years old and I live in Aireys Inlet in Victoria. My family moved down here in the 90’s from Melbourne. I have memories of living in Melbourne but i was super young so most memories of growing up are from the coast. Riding motor bikes and skating then eventually becoming a full blown surf addict. A great way to spend your childhood in retrospect. After finishing high school I went into a graphic art course but really the main thing that got me super focused on making art was visiting America when I was 20. I met a lot of young artist making rad stuff happen and I came home thinking I can do that too. My earliest influence was my dads (Jeff Raglus) art because it was all around me in his studio and our house and even on the clothes I wore because he worked for mambo during the 90’s. I remember a time when there was a whole lot of awesome cartoons on tv when I was younger like Hey Arnold, Roccos Modern Life, Spongebob, Unreal Monsters etc. Those cartoons had a huge influence on me. Not just the artwork from the cartoons either, I feel like they were really left of field and it made me feel comfortable with who I was as a kid too, coming from a artistic family sometimes I felt like an outsider compared to kids who just loved football and didn’t have art in their houses. Also I did a short course on how to use the program Illustrator at RMIT last year. That was really great I recommend RMIT’ short courses in fact I’m stinging to do another one. I think the main pathway my work has gone down lately is steering towards fine art from graphic art, not that I had a grand career with graphic art. I just felt that with every job I did it was hard having someone tell me what was right or wrong with the piece, so I started painting on the side just doing exactly what I wanted then next thing you know people started telling me they liked them! And they wanted to buy them!
What ideas or themes do you express in your work? Most of my paintings start with a thought or a mood I am in. It could be something simple, say if I feel tired I will sketch out a whole lot of ideas and I think that mood translates into the sketches and from there a painting will eventuate and I like to think that when someone else looks at they can translate the feeling. I use words a lot too and it makes it easy to be direct with what I’m trying to get across with my artwork. I have a piece I finished recently called “Altogether” and basically it was almost a sarcastic take on what I feel being in your early twenties is like, when nothing feels together at all sometimes. But I like the idea of somebody seeing it for the first time and applying their own life situation to the painting so it’s vague enough to mean lots of different things to different people.
Another example is a painting I had called “Inside My Zone” and basically that painting is simply about that moment when your super relaxed in your own space. It might sound simple and corny but there is nothing like being home right? I just wanted to try and translate that into a painting.
I have had people come up to me and explain what they think a painting of mine is about or what they think I’m trying to express and most of the time it isn’t really right at all, but that is so awesome to me because it’s like when you hear a love song and whether it is sad or happy you can relate it to a situation in your life and it brings on a deeper meaning. A woman recently asked me directly what would I like from my art, and I think that would have to be the ability to share feelings with people via my art. That inspires me so much. Just all the emotions humans feel everyday. There is so so much to draw from and it also feels primal or something, just marking down exactly how I feel with paint and using knives, brushes, oils and all the tools to make a painting about having a crush on a girl.
What is your workspace like?
My studio is decent in size and connected to a house with a fire place so that helps to dry the paintings in winter and of course keep warm. There is a work shed out the back too where I can prime the wood and use saws and sand things if they need. Im a bit of a neat freak with my studio and before I can sit down to start working everything has to be pretty clean. So I like to keep my studio neat and organised. I have a lousy easel that my dad gave me (it was his a long time ago) it doesn’t hold the painting very still but it does the job… kind of. I think having a big strong desk is essential for getting work done. I have a desk from the 1950’s I think and its very strong so I can do all kinds of jobs with it. I try to keep it very open because of the fumes that come with oil paints. I like painting down the coast because there are not as many distractions. Except for the surf, but when the wind is bad and there is no swell I will just stay in my studio all day listening to Slowdive and making art.
Tell us about your current collaborative exhibition at Outre Gallery with your dad. How is it working along side him? How do your two styles go together?
Yeah so Jeff and I are currently showing at Outre Gallery in Sydney and Melbourne called “Hollow Scene”. I think working with my dad was pretty easy just because we don’t leave anything unsaid. We are not scared to say what we really think of each others work. It’s great to have someone tell you bluntly that they don’t like what you have done. It makes you sit back and realise that everyone has their own opinion and also dad is usually right when it comes to how a painting should look. We start by just talking about an idea and how it would work with mixing our styles together then we might sketch it out a few times until we know exactly what to do. Things change along the way all the time but having two people working at the same time makes it easy to get a lot done in one day. Most of the paintings in the show are our own but the few that are collaborations really work well and I think you can see a good mixture of our styles. Dad has been great with showing me all the literal things that you need to know with painting like how to mix oil paints and how to varnish pieces etc. The show is up for another couple of weeks so go and have a look and see what you think.
Where/how did your love for 50’s/ early 60’s develop?
Probably just because we had so much stuff from those decades in my house growing so i felt comfortable around it. I just love the look of all things from around that time. Cars, clothes, houses, cafes just about everything looked so cool. Also I think it was time in history when young people really separated themselves from what you were meant to be like and there is something romantic about that and I am really drawn to that. Watch North By North West by Alfred Hitchcock and tell me that everything doesn’t look over the top super cool at that time in history.
What are you working on at the moment? I just finished doing a design for a brand called Bad Luck Zizzy. However, my focus is still on getting people in to see the shows at Outre Gallery. I know down the track I will re-shift my focus and start painting for something again, but the last five months have been pretty intense just getting enough work ready for the shows. I love having something to paint for so I know I will start sussing out whats next soon.
Which artists inspire you and why?
Right now I’m inspired by an American artist called Clare Rojas, her new work is right up my alley and people are tacking a shinning to it so it makes me excited. Also I have to say Barry McGee inspires me just because he never tries to have a online presence or anything like that but his art is so good he just shines through no matter what. Of course artists like Miro and Picasso you cant go past those two for me. Stuart Davis is maybe my favourite artist ever. And of course Warhol and Keith Haring. I was just in Sydney and checked out the White Rabbit Gallery that was incredible, modern Chinese art that blew me away. I could go on and on but I get inspiration from a lot of different outlets I’d say music influences my artwork a whole lot too. I love the feeling you get from listening to a certain Cocteau Twins song for example and I will try to capture that feeling in a painting.
Whats on the horizon?
I would love to do another mural. Also I’m open to studying again. I feel like I have a lot to learn when it comes to the history of art. I guess i will have to wait and see what happens. I know I’m going to keep painting a lot. And hopefully something else comes from all the hard work. Thats something I really believe in, working hard at something always seems to have great outcomes.