For our November Manc of the Month, we interviewed the wonderful Kim Barsky! Kim is a Manchester-based abstract expressionist artist whose work combines landscapes, portraits and pops of neon. Keep reading to hear all about Kim’s practice, processes, upcoming projects and more!
Cotton on MCR: Please introduce yourself and your work to our Cotton On MCR readers.
Kim Barsky: ‘Hi, I’m Kim Barsky. I’m a Manchester-based painter who hates to put a label on my work. Is it Abstract Expressionism, Fauve inspired, Pure Abstract or purely intuitive? It’s probably a little bit of everything. I love to work big and bold. Experimenting with neon, explosive colour – unless of course, I’m working small and minimal with a subtle restricted palette.’
COM: It’s interesting how your practice revolves around landscapes, but you often use ‘unnatural’ neon colours to depict them. What inspires your colour palette?
KB: ‘I love to put pops of ‘unnatural’ colour in unlikely places as they stimulate the senses. Working with neons has been a recent development. I think it was a response to all the COVID lockdowns. They are incredibly uplifting to work with and have proved to be a great mood changer.’
COM: What are your hobbies and interests outside of art?
KB: ‘My life is very busy. I have a husband, 3 adult children, 6 grandchildren and a ludicrous amount of house plants. Juggling my family, my home and my art can be quite a challenge. The biggest of which is my complete ineptitude when it comes to anything computer related. It drives me mad. If I had my way I would bring back the carrier pigeon and write messages with a swan feather and squid ink. In saying all that, I am obsessed with Instagram.’
COM: What are your thoughts on the current Manchester art scene?
KB: ‘I am absolutely amazed by the pool of incredibly creative and talented people in Manchester. There seems to be so much going on. Such diversity in so many different disciplines. What is it about Manchester that has historically produced such amazing creativity? I feel proud to be part of such a thriving exciting city.’
COM: Are there any challenges that you’ve faced during your practice? If so, how did you overcome them?
KB: ‘I was very coy for a long time about calling myself an artist. Is it when you’ve sold a painting, or 5 paintings or 10? Can you still call yourself an artist if you can’t draw a realistic picture of your neighbours cat? ‘Imposter Syndrome’, it seems, is a very common problem amongst artists. Having struggled with this in the early years, I now understand that being an artist is something you ARE. It is something within you. It’s how you view the world regardless of how many paintings you have sold or even if nobody likes your work.’
COM: Do you have any upcoming projects or exhibitions you’d like to tell us about?
KB: ‘I have a creative urge to paint BIG. I recently completed a commission that was 7ft x 4ft. And I loved it. I loved the huge sweeping gestural brush strokes and the physicality of the process. I need to think my plan through as there are lots of considerations such as cost, storage, delivery issues etc. etc. In the meantime, till I sort the logistics of these future plans I am looking forward to my open studio weekend which is being held in a beautiful studio on the 3rd floor, Vernon Mill, Stockport, SK1 2HX. It’s to be held on 27th and 28th November, 10.30 am till 4.30 pm.’
COM: If you could live in any piece of artwork, what would it be and why?
KB: ‘What a brilliant question! Without a doubt, I would happily live in the ‘Bedroom in Arles’ by Van Gogh.’