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Why search for inspiration when all you need is sitting right there in front of you? That is John Bokor’s philosophy

Hailing just south of Sydney, John Bokor is an artist fascinated with the spaces that surround him. Whether it is something as simple as a box of cereal or a pile of dirty dishes, John is able to transform these subjects into a striking work of art.

Currently showing at Darlinghurst’s King Street Gallery, Everyday World is a collection of John’s paintings and sketches from around his home studio created over the past 18 months or so. We caught up with John to see how it all came together and where he plans to go from here.

Beside the Playing Fields, 2016, Oil on Canvas, 61x76cm

Beside the Playing Fields, 2016, Oil on Canvas, 61x76cm

From a box of Jatz to the graphic design of Coco Pops, the entire world is a constant source of inspiration for Sydney’s John Bokor.

HAPPY: Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

JOHN: I am a full-time artist and I exhibit at King Street Gallery on William in Darlinghurst, I mainly draw and make oil paintings but I do a little printmaking too. My studio is in my house which is great for me – it’s super messy, but has great south facing light. The dog often sleeps on the floor while I paint. 

HAPPY: So what is Everyday World?

JOHN: Everyday World is a collection of drawings that are depictions of my immediate environment and some of the things I see on a daily basis, many of which are eye-catching products you find at home or in the supermarkets.

Crackers, 2016, Oil on Canvas, 61x51cm

Crackers, 2016, Oil on Canvas, 61x51cm

HAPPY: What inspires you to draw these settings that you’re so familiar with?

JOHN: I like where I live and I like working in my studio, so working from objects I know and can reference well means I can work in my home. I have never been the sort of person who has to look for inspiration or “the next big thing” – you know, who needs to search for subjects. As an artist I see subjects worthy of my attention wherever I cast my gaze. Isn’t that what artists do? They listen and they see and then they interpret.

HAPPY: What do you do after you’ve finished painting a setting? Is there a sense of release involved with cleaning up and moving on?

JOHN: There is a little euphoria associated with making a painting finally work but that is often tempered with a fair amount of self-doubt, too. If I need a second opinion I ask my family what they think – my six year old son is getting quite a good eye you know!

Blue Plate Still Life, 2016, Oil on Linen on Board, 27x30cm

Blue Plate Still Life, 2016, Oil on Linen on Board, 27x30cm

HAPPY: I understand Everyday World has been showing for a couple of weeks now, what have reactions been like so far?

JOHN: I wasn’t sure what to expect with this exhibition. It is always a difficult time for an artist to show people what they have been working on. Having the work for sale too adds other pressures and doubts. Is selling paintings a measure of success? I have had a lot of positive responses from other artists which has been great.  Some people really loved the cereal boxes and packaging that I painted – for some it was nostalgia for the naughty foods of their childhoods I think! Mostly people have said they saw it as a very happy and beautiful exhibition.

HAPPY: How long did you work all this for? 

JOHN: About 18 months, though I did have a big family holiday in the middle of this. We went to Italy for two months, during which I did a lot of drawings.

Just Like a Chocolate Milkshake, 2016, Oil on Board, 61x47cm

Just Like a Chocolate Milkshake, 2016, Oil on Board, 61x47cm

 HAPPY: So what’s next? Anything else in the pipeline that you’re able to tell us about?

JOHN: I have an exhibition on at the Wollongong City Gallery that starts on the 13th of May. I am actually thinking of showing some of my sketchbook drawings from our trip to Italy. Although I will also show a lot of paintings.  I could just as easily paint or draw a whole new body of work. But really, I just paint, or draw, all the time. As Picasso said “Inspiration does exist, but it has to find you working.” It’s not so much that I work with a body of work in mind as that I am always working because it’s what I do, it’s how I communicate. 

Milk and Sugar, 2016, Oil on Canvas, 61x51cm

Milk and Sugar, 2016, Oil on Canvas, 61x51cm

Everyday World is showing until December 3rd at King Street Gallery, Sydney. Find the details on their website.


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November 25, 2016

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