In May, French artist Kosta Kulundzic was at ARTafterDARK where in less than three hours he created a life-size dragon—one of the signature characters in his painting series that juxtaposes Christian iconography and mythologies with contemporary life. And in a colonnade hung two large-scale Technicolor paintings with a ready-to-fight Manny Pacquiao. It was the selfie-backdrop of the night.
Now artists can learn from the accomplished draftsman and painter—he will teach Oil Painting and Introduction to Contemporary Drawing at the Honolulu Museum of Art School this fall.
Born and raised in Paris, Kosta moved to O‘ahu in January 2016 to be closer to his wife’s family in Waialua. So far he has found the transition to island life surprisingly easy. “I think Hawai‘i is very active artistically and I was not expecting that,” he says. “And very welcoming—in France they don’t open the door to you like they do in Hawai‘i. I was astonished to already be invited to participate in a lot of things.”
The change of scenery has also had a positive impact on Kosta’s work. “When I arrived here, everything became more bright,” he says. “The colors—everything popped up from the canvas.” A self-described “pure Parisian,” Kosta prefers concrete to nature, but since moving to Hawai‘i, his contemporary portrayals of martyrs and monsters now find themselves on sun-soaked beaches or surrounded by lush greenery.
Though his pop-surrealist images of tropical apocalypse may seem like a departure from more traditional studio practices, Kosta describes his background as classical and technical. A graduate of the Ecole Nationale Supérieur d’Architecture des Beaux Arts—where he has also taught drawing and painting for 11 years—he has designed his classes to focus on technical skills and practice while also pushing students to see with their imagination. “Painting and drawing are like playing ping pong or tennis—the more you practice and the more focused you are, the better the result is. It’s as simple as that.”
Students in his contemporary drawing class will gain experience in a wide range of graphic styles with exercises inspired by artists like Shepard Fairey, R. Crumb, and Kim Jung Gi. In his own work, Kosta has been particularly influenced by the 1970s American Underground Comix, which will be explored in this class alongside the work of other comic masters from Belgium and Korea. “Drawing is the first tool of creation,” he says. “It is the medium where barriers can be most easily broken. Every creative endeavor starts with a drawing.”
Catch Kosta in action at his next live drawing exhibition at the University of Hawai‘i– Mānoa’s Commons Gallery, November 5–22.
Learn more about our fall drawing and painting courses here. Fall registration begins Aug. 1 (members at Contributing level and above get to register a day early, on July 31).