Post Contemporary artist Brandon Kralik worked for three years in the studio of the figurative Odd Nerdrum. A major in Fine Art, he has also studied Art History, photography, and film at CUNY. He has written an arts blog for Huffington Post as well as several other publications both online and in print. His paintings graces the collections of Steven Tyler, The Crown Princess of Sweden, Matthew Barzun, who leads the financial campaign for President Obama’s re-election, and Carlos Santana, to name a few.
Can you tell us a little about your childhood? Did you always have a love of art early on?
I have always been interested in visual images and have drawn my entire life. My Mom drew, her sister and brother in law were both artists and I remember visiting their studios when I was very small.
What is the very thing that you remember liking to draw most often?
I drew all sorts of things but people have always been most interesting for me. Some of my earliest drawings that I remember were of people, real simple, in landscapes. I liked to tell stories with my drawings.
What do you love most about being a painter?
Being a painter allows me a certain amount of freedom to do with my day as I wish which has always been what I wanted. I love the freedom I have to create, to be at home or to travel as I want. Freedom.
Is there one subject you love to create above others or do you like to always be expanding in your work?
People are still my favorite subject but I hope that I can expand on that. I mean, it is one thing to paint a portrait but what I really want more than to achieve likenesses or to copy nature is to convey a sense of otherworldliness, to delve into the great mystery and explore the ancient myths and how they apply to us now. I am interested in eternal values and what we all have in common as human beings.
How did you come to work with Odd Nerdrum? What did you learn from that experience?
I came to know Odd through a series of pleasant coincidences. I told the story last year at the Representational Art Conference in Ventura, California (TRAC) and there is a video of it on youtube but to make a long story short, I was working in a gallery in Hawaii when a man came in who knew Odd Nerdrum, was his neighbor in Norway and said that if I came to Norway he would introduce us, and so I did. Odd ended up inviting me to paint with him so I did that for 3 years.
I learned that it was possible to paint grand paintings in our time. I learned that the secrets of the old masters were not lost but that they just fell by the wayside in the wake of Modernism and Post Modernism. I learned that I was not alone in wanting to create masterpieces. I also learned lots of small technical things about pigments, preparing canvas and paint but Odd is a wealth of information about philosophy and Art history and I find all of that super interesting.
What led you to Sweden? Do you ever miss the States?
While I was in Norway at Nerdrum’s I fell in love with a woman from Sweden eventually moved there and opened my own studio, which I still have. I miss people, my family but I go back to the States pretty often. I love to travel. I spend most of last year just north of New York City but earlier this year I moved back to Sweden and have been living in Stockholm.
Are there any little known things about you that our readers might be surprised to learn?
I am sure there are! One thing that people are often surprised to learn is that I lived in Alaska for three years on a boat. I have spent a lot of time exploring the fringes of society. Alaska was pretty far out and the years I spent there led to some pretty good stories!
Do you have a dream project you’d most like to bring into being?
Interesting that you should ask. I have recently begun a video series that focuses on interviews with prominent people within the representational or Post Contemporary community. It is called Elephant and can be found on youtube and my Patreon page. I review ateliers, talk with painters, gallery owners and other professionals to help educate the public and collectors about 21st Century painting. It is something I have wanted to do for a while, to be able to share my experiences with a larger audience. It is an extension of the blog that I write for the Huffington Post, but in video format. People can support the project by becoming patrons and by donating a few dollars a month they can see all the videos and receive other bonuses such as sketches, paintings and eventually I will publish a book of my travels and experiences. I hope to do that later next year. My big plan is to next year, for my 50th birthday, to travel around the world and meet with painters and share that with my social network. The book will be based on that.
What do you hope people take away from viewing your works of art?
I want people to understand that it is possible for them to own beautiful works of art. I do work on commissions but when it comes to my own work, what I want to say, I hope that mywork gives people a sense of balance, of inspiration and hope. I want this to come through in the imagery, the symbolism, but also from the craftsmanship. There is something very special about being able to live with well crafted oil paintings.
What advice would you give those wishing to improve their skills as an artist?
Draw. All the time. Every day. There are a number of ateliers now where one can go to learn the skills and I will be reviewing these ateliers and talking with the teachers there in the video series, Elephant.
What would you say is the best advice anyone ever gave you on life in general?
My father told me that the second hardest thing in life is to live up to your potential. The hardest thing would be to get to the end of it and realize that you did not try.
What do you think is key to a life well lived?
Happiness. To have my time, for that is the most valuable, irreplaceable resource, and to be able to spend it creating, and to once I have that, to enjoy it, do my best, and to benefit others with what I can do. If I can add up spiritual victory after spiritual victory, day after day, then my life will have been well lived.
Anything you’d like to say in closing?
I love to connect with new people and learn about life from their perspective, learn about how they live and am always happy to share what I know with people who are interested so, I am easy to find. I am on a lot of social media sites and of course people will find more information on my website. www.brandonkralik.com Feel free to connect with me! I also want to thank you for reaching out and offering to do this interview. I appreciate it.