Kurt Pio sometimes likes to paint in his birthday suit. Especially when he’s painting his Full Moon series. And why the heck not? Moon’s out, buns out, right?
When he’s not getting paint in places where one shouldn’t get paint, the born and bred Capetonian is making big waves in the art scene. His intricate Diamond series, Full Moon series and more recent Champagne series have received rave reviews—quickly making Kurt Pio a household name.
When asked about how his Diamond series began, Kurt says it all started in early 2011, when he was doing an artist residency in Amsterdam. “Being far from home and a little homesick, I started thinking about more of my own country’s natural resources. It grew from patterns that I started drawing each day and eventually they began to resemble diamonds,” he says.
“In the early days of these artworks, no one really showed any interest,” says Kurt. “But I still enjoyed the pieces and so I kept making them.” Soon enough Kurt’s diamonds caught the eye of local and international jewellery brands—quickly followed by art fans and collectors abuzz with these larger-than-life diamonds.
So what is it about diamonds that Kurt digs so much?
“It creates a childlike excitement within me. It’s like seeing a bit of magic, or seeing a rainbow reflecting through a crystal for the first time.”
Why does he think these works are causing such a stir, he replies: “I think people like the idea of taking a tiny precious object and blowing it up to an object that almost becomes abstract.” he says.
And what goes well with diamonds? Champagne, of course. Kurt’s latest object of affection. As far back as he can remember, Kurt has always left a party or a celebratory occasion with a champagne cork in his pocket. He writes the date on the cork and adds it to an ever-growing collection.
This was just the start of Kurt’s connection to champagne. “Champagne is a symbol of success, it’s about celebrating the good times with a select and special few.
Champagne also makes me feel hopeful. It’s about optimism and setting goals for yourself—and once those goals are reached you crack open a bottle to celebrate.”
So how did the Champagne series start? Kurt wanted to fill a large wall in his home and began painting these big, big bottles. “I painted the famous French brands because these are the ones with the most amount of status attached to them. They’re the best of the best. The bottles were never meant to be sold or turned into a series, but after an innocent Instagram, the bottle images blew up.”
Now a year on, Kurt is in New Orleans exhibiting the Champagne Bottles, and his Diamond and Gem collection. New Orleans in Louisiana is named after Orléans in France, so the French Champagne bottles were an obvious fit.
Kurt lives in De Waterkant and when he’s not popping bottles or painting them, you’ll find him hiking up Lion’s Head, walking on the Sea Point Promenade or spending time with his friends.
For more information go to www.kurtpio.co.za, Instagram @kurtpio.