Composition I

Paul Bokslag

Composition I, 2020.
Acrylic on canvas.
Dimensions: 50×50 cm.

Ph credit & courtesy of the artist.


I like working with groups of people, but since the beginning of the lockdown, I have been working from home only on design and illustration projects and a few art commissions. I have also had a lot more time to work on personal projects.

I am fortunate to be living in the countryside with access to my little strawbale studio in the backgarden and a number of walks and bicycle rides within the 2 km and 5km radius. Working around the house and in the garden have renewed my appreciation of the outdoors and being in nature.

I did not really set out to make new work in response to the lockdown, but all work is in some way a reflection of its time and the paintings and drawings I have worked on in the last months were certainly influenced by it. I have continued a body of work that I started in Cill Rialaig Artist Retreat, Co. Kerry earlier this year.

I start these acrylics on canvas paintings with an outline composition of colour blocks and then build up layers of handdrawn lines. Along the way, I keep making small decisions on colour and placement that will affect the finished piece. I have always enjoyed a slow and labour intensive making process, as it gives me the opportunity to be fully immersed and allows the work to develop organically. Now, even more, I realise how these works in a way document the passing of time and how we have slowed down; the adding of lines and brushstrokes paralleling the process of breathing and the beating of my heart.

I have enjoyed this extra time in the studio, which I hope will continue, but now that outdoor workers can return to their jobs, I also can’t wait to start working on a mural in town, building on the same making process I developed for these paintings.

Paul Bokslag is a Dutch artist and designer based in Co. Kilkenny, Ireland. He works in various media, including painting, printmaking drawing, type design and papercut installations. He enjoys using everyday materials and slow making processes. A recurring design element is the dynamic between positive and negative space, in both two and three dimensions. He is interested in what happens in the spaces that we create, socially, emotionally but also visually. His work is also very much about the mix of the geometric and the organic, the balance between the hand drawn line and the exactness of shapes.

Solo exhibitions include ‘The Space Between’ at the Watergarden Gallery (2019); ‘Waking Up in Waterford’ with Waterford Healing Arts Trust (2014), ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’ at Garter Lane Arts Centre (2012) and ‘Papercuts’ at the Abhainn Rí Festival (2011) and he has also taken part in a large number of group shows.

Paul has been on residencies at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre and Cill Rialaig Artist Retreat and was a recipient of the 2011 ‘Healthway International Arts and Health Fellowship’ with DADAA in Fremantle, Western Australia. He was the artist-in-residence for ‘The Breadwinner’ exhibition at the Butler Gallery.

He completed large scale papercut installations, room filling tape drawings and twine sculptures spanning multiple floors in Temple Bar Gallery, National Design & Craft Gallery, Luan Gallery, VISUAL Carlow and Kilkenny County Hall. In 2019 he was commissioned by the Facebook AIR Program to make a large mural for their new offices in Ballsbridge.

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