Eye on Artists

Nikos Rutkowski

1. How are you and where are you?

I am doing well. I’m at home in Columbus with my family; my wife, my 6 year old son, 2 year old twin boys, and 3 cats.

2. What is your routine?

Up until the last week or so I had no routine to speak of, I was living very chaotically. My wife is a hospice social worker so she has not stopped working during the stay at home order, and our young children were home 24/7. Our kids are now back to being cared for outside the home during weekdays, so I’m getting back into a more productive daytime flow. I am a night owl by nature, and I was kind of letting that go unchecked- painting until 3 or 4 am almost every night- but I’m slowly reining myself back in and adjusting to the “new normal”, which for me means only painting until midnight or 1 and trying to get more work done during the day.

3. Is this a creative time for you? Do you find inspiration?

I have been working quite a bit, I have started 5 new bigger paintings since this all started. I’d say the pandemic has brought issues in our current world into sharp focus for me. I’d still categorize my work as abstract overall, but there are more figurative, symbolic elements popping up. I’ve been incorporating my thoughts on themes of isolation, polarization, and mortality. These issues were certainly on my mind before the pandemic; I realized that much of my recent work has been dancing around these concepts, and decided to embrace them in my work instead of pushing them away.

One work in progress is inspired by the ridiculous amount of completely uninformed and ignorant fighting and arguing I see occurring in the world and on social media: the two ‘figures” in the piece resemble Punch and Judy type puppets brawling with intense cartoonish violence. It captures how I mentally visualize people arguing on the internet now, but also how I see our current administration swinging wildly at anyone it deems to be the enemy of the day.

I’ve been spending more time in my shop; I created a bedside table for my eldest son recycled out of a shipping crate and have started making a new dining room table out of recycled skateboards. I have also been working on a giant monster torso for my commercial sculpture business; so I’ve been trying to stay busy and engaged creatively in as many ways available to me throughout all of this. I’ve been feeling very lucky to have a studio in my basement and a workshop in my garage; being able to continue working has been key for my continued sanity.