B.D. Graft at Studio Bosk

B.D. Graft (Cologne 1988) is the second artist to take part in Mini galerie’s Studio Bosk artist in residence program.

A residency gives artists the opportunity to step away from their everyday life, offering a fresh new zone of creativity for ideas to collect and evolve. Situated in a Friesland forest, the tranquility of the trees that surround the little house create an atmosphere incomparable to Graft’s home city of Amsterdam, where he lives with his wife, dog, and nine month old son.

“I’m actually here with them now”, Graft tells me, as we Whatsapp Video each other to catch up on how the residency is treating him. “It’s been a little residency family getaway.”

He laughs, and I’m surprised at his unconventional approach, as I’d always assumed a residency was meant to be a solitary experience.

“Yes but that’s my daily life. Art is my 9 to 5 in the real world. I get up in the morning and spend the day at my studio, then try to be back home for dinnertime. I’m usually alone in my practice, so it’s nice to have them here now.”

Graft tells me he is interested in bees and that he wants to know more about them. I lift up a book on beekeeping that I’d just bought myself, and he remarks on the popularity of the hobby since lockdown started.

“For me though, bees are a logical addition to my work, they fit my visual universe.”

Indeed they do. B.D. Graft’s bright, cheerful paintings most often feature flowers, whose vivacious colour and scent are irresistible to the busy working bee. He shows me a drawing he was working on, and chuckles when he tells me how meditative, yet time consuming, it is to sketch honeycomb.

“I know people have been painting flowers and that for years. It’s a simple idea, and my art is simple. But it’s my own simple.”

Simple it may be, but Graft’s work has increased in popularity over the years. A self taught artist, Graft got inspired by a friend to create analogue collages, made from cut outs from National Geographic and the like, and later progressed onto painting, now his preferred medium. “I did get a good response from the collages, but I let go of them to create my own visual universe from scratch. It’s very therapeutic, and I don’t set myself any rules.”

He credits Instagram as the propeller of his career. “In the old days I’d have had to walk from place to place with all my work in a portable portfolio.” Imagine that? “I liked the distance I had between myself and my work on Instagram. Like, I liked coming up with a cool sounding artist name [he laughs], which are actually just my initials. It was reassuring to know that if things didn’t work out I could just go back to being Brian.”

I ask him whether being a dad has had any effect on his art. “I’m definitely interested in how I could incorporate fatherhood into my art in the future. I’m still working on long-term projects I set myself, pre-baby. There’s definitely been a change though. A good change. I’m tired, but happy. He’s a blast to have around.”

B.D. Graft’s work featured in Mini Galerie’s 2020 group exhibition, Paradisia, and since then they have formed an ongoing partnership.

The works created during his time at Studio Bosk will release on Friday the 12th of November 15.00 CET, and will be on view at Mini Galerie’s showroom by appointment only from that day onwards.

Text by Alicia Hansen
Photography by Pierre Zylstra