Billabong Showcases The Art Of Wolfgang Bloch

All photos Carl Steindler.

It’s not uncommon to find artist Wolfgang Bloch rooting around in a dumpster outside of his kids’ school. “My kids laugh,” says Bloch, “But I don’t care, I go dumpster diving. I go to construction sites. I pick stuff up the side of the road. I’m always doing that.”

So it’s no surprise that Bloch’s work radiates organic energy. That said, it’s also a bit of an anomaly in the world of surf inspired art—moody and dark at times, distant and slightly abstract at others, and above all, difficult to categorize. “I think because he works in such a personal place, people who look at the same painting, will all feel something different,” says renowned graphic designer David Carson. “It’s a type of art you couldn’t teach someone how to do.”

Carson designed (and penned an afterward) for Chronicle Books’ recent release of Wolfgang Bloch: the Colors of Coincidence. “I just find there’s something really compelling about them (Bloch’s paintings),” says Carson. “I want to study them. It’s a brilliant use of materials… It’s more than a breath of fresh air. It’s going to open a lot of doors.”

Authored by Mike Stice, the 50-page full color book illustrates Bloch’s early artistic roots in Ecuador and his prolific and atypical contributions to California culture and beyond. In conjunction with the release, Billabong hosted an exhibition of Bloch’s work at the Laguna Art Museum this past weekend, October 11-12.

For inspiration, Bloch says he’s always staring, in awe, at the ocean. But he doesn’t necessarily look for anything in particular, especially when translating that to his art. “It’s very much a negative space,” says Bloch, “I’m really aware of scale and the size. But other than that, the material dictates which way it’s going to go.”

While each piece is a raw snap shot of that precise experience from the artist’s perspective, the materials he uses are just as important as the muse itself. “Every piece of wood has a history to it,” Bloch says. “You look at the texture of the material, and the colors, and the scratches. To me, that’s history. It went through something where it got a scratch. Sometimes I try to enhance that scratch.” –Mike Fish