Interview with Karl Backman
q)Who are you? Where are you from and where do you live now?
a)Karl: I'm Karl Backman, from Umeå Punk City in Västerbotten, Sweden.
q)What is it that you do? What media do you use?
a)Karl: When I paint I mainly use acrylics, but sometimes oil, almost always on canvas. And I do some screen prints too, and there's a xerox art project with Jessica in it's early state too. And my music of course. I play guitar. Electric guitar.
q)What do you think sets your work apart?
a)Karl: My use of colour, my themes and my independence. I like images that are both archetypical and unique.
q)How long have you been showing your work for? Did you have a “big break?”
a)Karl: Eight or nine years only, with the paintings, but I've been on stage with punk bands since the very early 80's, and my music related art work was on record sleeves, posters, t-shirts and in fanzines long before I started exhibiting my paintings. I've never had a big break, just a steadily growing interest in what I do, I guess.
q)What are some things that have inspired you?
a)Karl: My work is inspired by everything from hardcore porn to official government reports. People I interact with, or colours and shapes in various dead objects. My girlfriend and long gone cold war era intelligence officers. Lust and paranoia. Sex and violence. Life and death.
q)What have you been working on recently?
a)Karl: Different stuff. In September 2010 I visited the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant and the ghost town of Pripyat inside the exclusion zone, and my next theme will be centred around that, so I'm starting to do sketches for those paintings now. It's a very strange and interesting experience, actually being there in front of Reactor 4 and walking around in Pripyat among all the discarded radioactive gasmasks and all the dusty possesions people had to leave behind when they were evacuated. Some of my photos from this trip are up on my Facebook and MySpace pages by the way. Apart from that I'm also working on my upcoming Zurich exhibition series, which is very different in some ways, though both are exploring a simular topic. I think gasmasks are such an iconic thing to people because it signals both life and death, and life and death is what the work I'm doing for Zurich is about too, but with that series I'm juxtapositioning images and ideas connected to life and death that men find both exciting and shameful.
q)Do you listen to music while you create your work? If so, would you give some examples?
a)Karl: Yes, I listen to music all the time. Mainly UK punk from the late 70's and the early 80's. It's hard to pick a handful when there's 100s of bands on 1000s of vinyl records. Mau Maus, Sex Pistols, Subhumans, Barbed Wire, 4-Skins, Riot Squad, Damned, Disorder, Oppressed, Conflict, Icons of Filth, Exploited. Outside of punk I like Diamanda Galás, Motorhead and Chuck Berry.
q)Do you do work in any other media? Other projects not necessarily related to your main body of work?
a)Karl: Well, I write songs and play guitar in two punk bands; AC4 and The Vectors. Both bands have toured Europe several times, and released a lot of records, and there are new ones coming out this year. With AC4 we're touring Australia in April, and we're probably gonna do another European tour later this year too. Check us out if you're into fast hardcore punk, with no emo, no metal, no ska and no pop. I like purity and loyalty in music as in everything else.
q)What advice do you have for artists looking to show their work?
a)Karl: Start your own gallery. We did that in 2005, and it's always great to feel that you in some small way are taking control of your own life, rather than waiting for someone else to do things for you. You're free to do what you want. I also think a lot of artists need to step back and look at their art, and ask themselves if they should exhibit the work at all. Are you creating something that is actually interesting?
q)Do you have any upcoming exhibitions of your work that you can mention?
a)Karl: I have a solo exhibition scheduled from July 8th to August 4th 2011 at the Museum Of Porn In Art, in Zurich, Switzerland. I don't yet have the exact dates for the rest of the things this year.
q)Where can people see more of your work on the internet?