Zola Zolu Gallery
Zola Zolu Gallery
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Milionaire Asia
, Vol. 6, 2012

Antonius Martono discovers how the successful Swedish-born and Balinese-based artist Richard Winkler is evolving his much-acclaimed creative style.

My first encounter with Richard Winlder's work was in 2008. At the time, his paintings reminded me of a sort of fusion between Botero and Gauguin. Richard's vibrant creations have the power to awaken romantic memories of the tropical hemisphere through the use of darkness and light, and his depictions of figures in lush, natural scenes.

Today's conversation heralds a new phase in my enjoyment of his work, as Richard tells me he's "transforming his stroke into a punch" By this, he means he's moving from two-dimensional paintings to more 'touchable' figures in the form of sculptures. He confesses that the voluptuous figures in his paintings have always been more sculptural than painterly, and it has taken some years before he finally discovered this new technique that suits him so well.

Beautiful Bodies

Richard's inspiration has always come from the human body. He has been fascinated with forms his whole life; the beauty of the body and peace between the body and mind. This has influenced his paintings significantly and is also the inspiration behind his sculptures.

He says of sculpture: "It's the expression of harmony, peace and balance between the fertile body and the mind and soul; moments which are difficult to catch in real life, but those that most of us sometimes get to experience, even for just a short while."

Linear Structure

When Richard starts a new painting, he begins by drawing the whole composition, all with clean lines. When the drawing is done, he covers it with paint. He says that even when he paints, he almost feels like he's sculpting.

His sculptures, too, start with simple lines—yet his material this time is aluminium wire. The wire becomes his 'line' as he bends and shapes it to create the pose for the sculpture. He builds up the volume with chicken wire, and finally uses plaster of Paris to create the sculpture. At this stage, he has to work fast as it sets and dries very quickly—but he finds this material easy to work with as he can make changes and be spontaneous along the way.

Once Richard has created a sculpture in plaster, he has a mould made from it, which he then takes to the foundry to make the final bronze casting.

"It's rough and hard work sometimes, but also a nice change from painting on canvas. I love the physical part of the work, when I touch and feel the material and work the forms of my sculpture with my bare hands. The hands are more sensitive than the eyes. The hands can feel the form and irregularities better than the eyes can see. Sometimes I don't look, but just feel with my hands. The artist's relationship with his sculpture is a lot more physical than with his paintings. With paintings, your eyes work the hardest," he explains.

Another Dimension

According to Richard, the real difference between painting and sculpting is the three-dimensional aspect. Paintings only need to work from one angle, but sculptures must look good or interesting from any angle—the full 360 degrees. This is the challenge that he believes makes sculptures more difficult to produce than paintings. "Every time you turn your sculpture, it becomes a new form, a new expression; and somehow the artist has to make them all come together and look beautiful and interesting," he says. While Richard believes that sculpting is a natural development for him, he won't be leaving painting completely behind. "I think there's a crossbreeding between them both. My painting was the birth of my forms and my expression of life. The sculptures are a continuation of that expression, but they also give influences and new angles back to the way I paint. My sculptures are my children from my marriage to painting," he says.

This April, Richard will exhibit a series of paintings at Art Monaco, represented by his dealer Zola Zolu Gallery, and in July, he'll be taking part in the annual Bazaar Art Festival at the Jakarta Art Bazaar.

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