INTERVIEW: Henrik Uldalen artist and curator of the hugely successful @Paintguide Instagram account

Henrik Uldalen is the curator of the very successful @Paintguide instagram feed which he has meticulously curated over the past year to promote the work of emerging international artists. This month he has teamed up with London gallery UNIT London to bring 60 of these artists (predominately painters) to a gallery setting. Over the next few weeks FAD will be interviewing 6 of the artists from the exhibition starting with the curator himself Henrik Uladen.

Henrik Uldalen, Efflux, 2015, Oil on panel, 50 x 50cm
Henrik Uldalen, Efflux, 2015, Oil on panel,

1 How has Instagram & social media in general impacted on your art practice?
It’s difficult to measure the impact that social media has had on my career as it’s something that I’ve grown up with; I’ve always posted on Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr. That being said, social media has undoubtedly had a major impact on my artistic practice, as almost every enquiry and gallery connection has been initiated via social media platforms. At the moment I can afford to live off the profits of sales made through Instagram of small works and studies, which is really liberating and has allowed me to take a more relaxed approach to my work. The fact that I can pay my rent with the profits from smaller works means that I’m freer to do what I want with my bigger gallery pieces. I think that ‘true’ art can be made when an artist is free from financial restrictions.

Henrik Uldalen, Untitled, 2012, Oil on panel, 60 x 90 cm
Henrik Uldalen Untitled 2012 Oil on panel 60-x-90

2 Can you tell us about your work and what are the main ideas you try and express.
My work is based on abstract ideas of existentialism and nihilism, and on loneliness and numbness. They’re fairly loose ideas, as they’re a direct translation of my changing emotional states. I try to translate my current mood into my work, and paint as a means of getting destructive thoughts out of my mind. I can be enveloped in my thoughts for hours on end, until I get to the point when I desperately need to get out into the real world, and be a normal, functioning and social being. I’m fighting fire with fire.

3 How do you decide what your next artwork/project will be and how do you know when it is finished?
I don’t plan too rigidly these days. Back in the day, I would carefully plan things according to my gallery schedule but these days I’m a lot more spontaneous, and try to capture the current mood and atmosphere as fast as I can. I’m able to delineate my thoughts and concepts much more easily that way. I used to be consumed by a concept for a week, but then have to continue to work for another two weeks on the project, without that same intensity of emotion. The end result would be satisfying, but the process itself was laborious rather than enjoyable. Over the years, I’ve taught myself to be patient, and now I’m trying my best to unlearn it.

Henrik Uldalen, Cobweb, 2013, oil on panel, 80 x 110cm
Henrik Uldalen, Cobweb, 2013, oil on panel, 80 x 110cm

4 Does your art look best on Instagram or in a gallery?
In a gallery, without a doubt. It’s actually one of the main reasons why I wanted to curate the Paintguide exhibition; I wanted to splice the physical and virtual worlds. Today’s pace of life is accelerating exponentially; people probably scroll through hundred of images on Instagram every day, and look at individual images for a few seconds tops. For someone who has spent several hours, days and weeks on a painting, I feel that works should be appreciated in a physical space with the correct lighting, instead of a dimmed 4 x 4 cm screen on a phone.

5 How has it been working with the artists on @Paintguide?
It’s been such an incredible experience working with Paintguide. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that this would be such a rewarding and enlightening experience. Every week I learn something new. I want to know how an artist has got to their end point, to understand their influences and inspiration. Most of the time, everything comes together at the end of their full week on the Paintguide Instagram account. It’s almost like watching the end of a movie, and thinking ‘ah, of course’, over and over again. I’ve also really enjoyed talking to and working closely with the artists involved in the show. Since I started painting most of the artists have become my idols, and I feel somewhat star struck on a weekly basis.

6 Which artists would you recommend us following on Instagram and why?
I would suggest having a look at the 59 other artists in the Paintguide exhibition. There are thousands of great artists out there, so for the moment I’ll narrow it down to that.

Aaron Nagel, Alessandra Maria, Allison Sommers, Andrew Hem, Andy Espinoza, Amy Sol, Anthony Hurd, Anthony Waichulis, Aron Wiesenfeld, Ashley Oubre, Audrey Kawasaki, Benjamin Björklund, Brad Kunkle, Brandon Holt, Casey Baugh, Casey Weldon, Conrad Roset, Dan Quintana, David Kassan, Daniel Ochoa, Eloy Morales, Eric Fortune, Erik Jones, Esao Andrews, Greg “Craola” Simkins, Hollis Dunlap, Hsiao Ron Cheng, Ivan Alifan, Jake Wood-Evans, Jean-Paul Mallozzi, Jeff Hein, Jeremy Geddes, Jeremy Mann, João Ruas, Joel Rea, Julio Reyes, Kai Samuels-Davis, Kenichi Hoshine, Kevin Llewellyn, Kim Cogan, Kit King, Linsey Levendall, Marco Mazzoni, Martin Wittfooth, Morten Thyholt, Matt Martin, Michael Hussar, Nicomi Nix Turner, Richey Beckett, Ryan Hewett, Sail, Sam Wolfe Connelly, Sverre Malling, Serge Marshennikov, Sean Cheetham, Shawn Barber, Tom Bagshaw, Tony Curanaj, Vincent Xeus.

PAINTGUIDE runs 27th November – 23rd December 2015 at UNIT LONDON | 147-149 Wardour Street, London W1F 8WD theunitldn.com

About The Curator
About the Curator
Henrik Uldalen (b. 1986, South Korea) is a self-taught figurative painter who lives and works in London. Solo exhibitions include: Thinkspace, Los Angeles, USA (2014); Galerie Contour, Skagen, Denmark (2011); Galleri Ramfjord, Oslo, Norway (2010, 2009). Group exhibitions include: Friends of Leon Gallery, Sydney, Australia (2015); Gallery 1261, Denver, USA (2015); Inner State Gallery, Detroit, USA (2015); LA Municipal Art Gallery, Los Angeles (2015); Modern Eden, San Francisco, USA (2015); Hashimoto Contemporary, San Francisco, USA (2015), Arcadia Contemporary, New York, USA (2014); Thinkspace, Los Angeles, USA (2014, 2013, 2012); Corey Helford Gallery, Los Angeles, USA (2013); Gallery 1261, Denver, USA (2013); NOoSPHERE Arts, New York, USA (2012); Spoke Art, San Francisco, USA (2012); J. LeVine Gallery, Art Basel, Switzerland (2012); Stricoff Fine Art, New York, USA (2012); S Cube Gallery, Los Angeles, USA (2011); Galleri V58, Aarhaus, Denmark (2011). Follow Henrik @henrikaau

Henrik Uldalen, Efface, 2015, Oil on panel, 100 x 100cm
Henrik Uldalen, Efface, 2015, Oil on panel, 100 x 100cm

About Mark Westall

Mark Westall is the Founder and Editor of FAD magazine, ' A curation of the world’s most interesting culture' [PLUS] Art of Conversation: A tri-annual 'no news paper'