Wolfgang Bloch is a talented and well-known Ecuadorian surfer/artist. Wolfgang uses color and the texture of wood and canvas to create an endless horizon meeting the sea. His work captures the simplicity of the forgotten aspects of our nature. We spoke with Wolfgang to learn more.
How was your life growing up in Ecuador?
I loved it. I loved the freedom; even though I lived in a city, I was within walking distance to open space and unspoiled nature. We didn’t have a TV, so I was always playing outside.
Are there influences of South America in your work?
I think it’s always there. Subconsciously the way I paint is very intuitive. There’s no plan, there are times I just close my eyes to really get whatever is inside out. It is a reflection of my experiences, I grew up down there and it’s a huge part of who I am. I did a lot of traveling and I was always interested in being outdoors with nature.
Ecuador is filled with color and texture and it was interesting to me so whatever I create now comes from that.
What did you want to become when you were a child?
As a child I never really thought much about what I would become. I just loved animals and nature. I was always catching insects, lizards and snakes.
When did you get on your first surfboard?
When I was twelve I went on my first surf trip with four friends to Olon, a small fishing village in Ecuador. One of my friends parents owned a farm right in front of a great beach break. We were there for a week with fun waves in 80 degree water. I’ll never forget that trip.
What was the feeling you had when you first stood on a surfboard?
Exhilarating. Fun. Like millions, I was hooked for life.
What meaning does surfing hold for you and how has it changed your life?
It’s always been a place for me to go and reconnect with nature. Re-charge and wash the stress
What were your early influences?
As a teenager my father took me to see the works of Guayasamin, an Ecuadorian painter. His intense figures with distorted hands and emotional expressions moved me. Jerry Uelsmann was a photography professor at the University of Florida when I attended and I was blown away by his composite, abstracted photographs — a master of the darkroom. The Swiss painter Paul Klee and his use of unconventional materials for his time, also Mark Rothko, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns and Richard Diebenkorn have always inspired me. You can look at their work done in the fifties and it stills looks contemporary and fresh today. Timeless work…
How did you discover your style?
I guess it was a product of frustration. I was guilty of painting your typical meaningless surf art; line ups with perfect waves peeling in the background, palm trees, perfect lighting and off-shore winds. To me the paintings were technically correct, but lacking soul. I enjoyed the process, but not the end result. Out
of frustration, I covered up a painting I was working on; it created two color fields, separated by a thin line of lighter color. I suddenly saw in front of me an abstracted seascape… I’ve been on that path ever since.
What is the process of creating your art?
It’s a very intuitive process; no planning or sketching prior to painting. My studio is filled with discarded materials I’ve collected throughout the years; old wood, metal, papers, magazines, albums, etc. I find a material in my studio; either the texture or the color on it inspires me and then I build and paint that second complimentary color field. After many layers of color I find myself looking at an abstracted seascape. It’s a fun process; I get so involved in it, that many times I don’t even remember how I did it.
What do you do when you hit a mental or creative block?
Sometimes I sketch, but most of the times I just go through my stuff in the studio and something usually gets me going.
Where do you see your art evolving?
I see more color. I’ve done many moody, dark paintings and I see things brightening up. I just go with the colors I feel like mixing at the time. For a couple years I was stuck in this bluish/grayish world, a few years before it was warmer hues. I don’t know where I’ll go with it but I feel more colors lightning up.
Your first book is titled, “Wolfgang Bloch: The Colors of Coincidence,” what does the title represent?
The book is an introduction into who I am, where I came from and my work. The title “The Colors of Coincidence” refers to the encounters of people and events that have influenced and molded me into who I am today.
Where has your art taken you?
I’ve had shows throughout California and NY in the US, Japan, Brazil, England, Australia and France.
Of all the places you have traveled to, what place in particular stands out? And why?
Every place I’ve been has something that makes them special. The people in Japan, Brazil and Costa Rica always make we want to go back.
What is the greatest thing you’ve learned in your life?
I’m still working on how not to be selfish. In comparison to life history, we are here just for a very short time. We should worry more about what we do for others, rather than how much stuff we collect throughout our lives.
What are you most proud of?
Becoming a husband and father.
What is the biggest struggle for an artist?
For me it’s the responsibility of having a family and having to provide for them. Painting is my job and sometimes it’s difficult to balance being creative and having good business sense.
What advice would you give to upcoming artist trying to establish their work?
I would say to try and find your own path. Find that thing that you do that is unique to you and
keeps you inspired to do more. I truly believe everyone has a talent.
Who are some of the people you feel are shaping the path for surfing today?
I’m not sure, but I really like what has been happening in the past decade or so. The experimentation in design and the use of different materials; taking old concepts and making them contemporary. Kids trying out different boards and going back to having fun, not just learning tricks and ripping waves apart. I hope it continues…
I also love the work of Patagonia and Surfrider. We sometimes get comfortable and forget that we need to be watching out for our oceans. There’s a long list of people doing some amazing work like Yvon Choudinard, Chris Malloy, etc…
What brings you the most happiness in the world?
My kids. Kids bring so much into who I am. Talk about being inspired, what really inspires me is feeling good about where you are at and what you’ve done. It really drives me to produce.
What is your favorite meal?
Anything with seafood in it.
What are you currently listening to on your iPod?
What is next for Wolfgang Bloch?
Continue to grow and evolve as person and artist.
Learn more about Wolfgang Bloch and his work here.