What a fun painting to make! The background is oil paint applied using a brush, the dress with a pallet knife, and the skin is a special acrylic drip technique that I devised. She’s called Zombie Girl and now belongs to a magnificent collector in Venice, Italy.

Webitorial: Kokon To Zai

NO.5IMAGE is a creative agency founded by Klaudia Nowak and Paul Perelka, specialising in fashion and portraiture photography. The recently collaborated with designers Kokon to Zai AKA ”KTZ” to produce this exclusive editorial for Atlas!

Photographers: Klaudia Nowak & Paul Perelka from NO.5image
Stylist: Lilly Maytree
MUA: Marta Wozniak 
Hair stylist: Yomi Onashile 
Assistant: Natasha Aimee
Lighting: Kenny Mok and Toby Wong
Production: NO.5IMAGE
Models: KOJO, Nathan Cooper, Demi Mensah, Nikki Riam, Lily Szramko


Paul Nowak (TUC Assistant General Secretary) speaks about #FairPayFortnight


"Who Am I?"

This set of paintings were exhibited as one long painting in an attempt to prompt a compare-and-contrast from the viewer. I wanted people to consider identity not merely as a reflection of the present, but instead as a non-sequential list of seemingly random possibilities. I am all of them. I am none of them. I am bits and pieces and subtle nuances from every one of them, past and present, and for that matter, future too. “Who am I?”

The images were painted from school photos and were intentionally displayed in a non-temporal order with the hopes of breaking that automatic relationship human beings have with life as a linear happening. I wanted them to see life as a set of possibilities, a sequence of questions and answers that have no bearing in absolute right or wrong. They just are. We just are. Who we are or what we are is not written.


This portrait of Abraham Lincoln was painted during my apprenticeship with stone sculptor Somers Randolph (the handsome gentleman on the left in the top image).

From a distance you can’t see it, but upon closer examination, the viewer can begin to see Lincoln’s “House Divided” speech painted into the background. The flag in the background accurately corresponds to the flag that would have been flown during the speech (June 16, 1858), and where the speech ends on the painting, it picks back up on the frame in the form of an etching and again on a thin scroll of canvas that was to be held in a wooden sheath that matched the frame.


Believe it or not, I actually wish this painting miraculously survived. I painted it when I was 24. I’m now 31 years old. It was intended to be displayed in the windows of MOKA Gallery (Chicago) but was censored and never exhibited. Shortly after it was made I set it on the top of a packed dumpster, easily accessible and fully in tact. Part of me feared the painting. These words were not entirely inaccurate. While I did not die, my career did in fact suffer, and in all honesty, my career is still suffering.

Regardless of the possible impact this painting had on my life however, I believe that the statement was paramount. To avoid the importance of a discourse on the temporal nature of a human life when my art was being made to discuss human life would have been like talking about the digestive system without mentioning excrement. The end may not be pretty, but it’s real, and shit happens.

In addition, I was curious to see what the impact of a very public declaration of demise, If the gallery had allowed it to be exhibited, would have done to those who knew me. I would have also included myself in the obituaries of the local papers without vocalizing the hoax (looking back, that part might have been a step too far). I envisioned it being treated as though it were real, as though I really had died despite it only being the focus of the exhibition.

The reason I painted it was to conceptualize the power of words over our subconscious which was a topic I had been delving into at the time.


These are images from the inaugural exhibition I curated for Art Effect Gallery. It was a truly wonderful experience. Some of the artists that were included are: LaKela Brown, Kevin McCoy, MJ Seltzer, Warren Rupp, Daniel Marchwinski, Brad Lawrence, Dawn Marie Cooke, Sean Hages, Maria Prainito, Topher Crowder, Buddy Dougherty, and Jessica Joy.


Some of my favorite images of my art are the ones where the art is out of context. In a lot of ways, I find them much more beautiful and often more relevant than the art-as-product manner in which they were eventually exhibited. 

I’ve advocated the notion that art is always being made, it is never finished, not until it leaves the artist’s possession. Only then does it lose its capacity for alteration. And my art especially follows this adage. I tell my collectors when they visit my studio, “If you like the art the way it is, then buy it now. If you don’t and it remains in my possession than there is a good chance you won’t recognize it the next time you see it.”

There are numerous states of “finished” but only one done.