Super Heavy with Pete Bakacs April 07 2021

Pete Bakacs is a painter based in Ocean Grove who has a love for Mid Century design and vintage cars. Pete is known for his bright, acrylic paintings depicting a mix of characters, auto parts and cars. In his later work, he draws on a more abstract and experimental side to painting methods as compared to his strictly figurative and illustrative style of past works.

Interview by Gab Lewis. Photos supplied by Pete Bakacs.

Welcome back for your third show here with us at Outré! Tell us, what can we expect to see this time around for Super Heavy?

It's great to be back showing at Outré. I’m picking up where I left off from my last show In Transit (2019). Heavily focussed on cars from the ’60s and ’70s, shipping containers. A few large pieces, a few smaller ones.

Last time we interviewed you, you had discussed aims for a more experimental and abstract direction. How is the journey towards this outcome unfolding so far?

I feel I’m still tinkering at the edges with more abstracted work and with my limited time I already had these more detailed paintings mapped out and wanted to see them through. I think a series of abstract paintings will be best delivered as an initial collection/foray and then see where that path leads.

I can see that you have taken a departure from the figurative or human elements in your previous work. What urged you to dive entirely into the industrial and automotive?

It's funny you mention this. When I draw with my kids, we draw birds, dogs, and silly characters. They constantly pester me to go back to a more cartoon style. “Why are you always painting car parts?” The industrial and auto theme is just something I’ve always wanted to paint. I’m currently exploring other themes, such as aviation and transport.

Hard lines, bold colours and striking composition have become part of your visual vocabulary. What has helped to shape this distinctive Bakacs' style?

I think it’s just elemental to what I like and what I gravitate towards. Neat, clean lines are a given and the palette of heavy industry environments informs all my work - safety orange and yellow, rusted red, searing sky blue, mechanical green, alabaster, black.

With your paintings getting larger, how does your process change in response? Is scale something you consider when working towards a show and where does this planning process begin for you?

I’m more comfortable working on these larger paintings, as the detail can scale up. When I start a new collection, I don’t necessarily plan it, I just paint one at a time and add it to the studio wall. Then 12 months later, hey – there’s the show.

Your cropped compositions are incredibly compelling! What draws you to these moments; how do you identify the features you then choose to paint?

This is something that definitely comes from my childhood, whether it was a car or something simple as a skateboard, I’ve always been interested in the finer details. The areas some people wouldn't notice. It’s just a matter of focusing in and seeing what’s there.

You have previously talked about being at a crossroads with your practice. Do you have a remedy when faced with feeling blocked or a way to spark interest?

I usually keep paper or a sketchbook near my work desk and jot down any ideas, whether it be a simple note or a very loose sketch. I’ll come back to these months later and think, yeah this is a great idea and continue working on it.

I've heard you're a man with impeccable taste: art, music, design, you name it! What's something that you have come across recently that excited or enticed your creative interest?

Music, music, music. The number of records I have bought during COVID? I couldn’t even say. The delivery people were coming every week, sometimes every other day. I’ve also been digging on Japanese artist Yusuke Hanai. Started reading Murakami too. I suspect I’ve always had an affinity with Japanese sensibilities.

What does a successful day in the studio look like for you? Talk us through a day in the life!

I run in the mornings now – something that as a 20-something I never thought I’d be into. Kids and school and family stuff, then into work. I try to paint on the weekends. I also set aside some time at night. Basically any free time I get I’m in the studio painting, so I need to be super organised.

I have to ask: dream car? Go!

I have found getting older that I’ve grown an appreciation for European cars of the ’60s and ’70s. However, I’ll take any late 60’s Dodge or Plymouth.

What's next for you Pete? Whatever it is, we can't wait to see!

I’ve got a few ideas for the next collection, sticking with some of the themes from this show, and new ones. I’m also working on a few prints that will come out later this year, so stay tuned.

We are excited to witness your latest works. Thanks for the chat!