Pop-artist MrArtPride on what to look for when buying art
As far as career changes go Marcin Rogal’s story is rather unexpected. Ten years ago as a young Polish twenty-something he was working as a plumber in New York City, spending his nights back in his small apartment teaching himself how to draw.
Having being rejected from several galleries, he took to social media under the name of @MrArtPride to promote his works, and rather quickly began to gain a fanbase — including a sizable following within the global watch community. Today, in just five years as a professional artist, he has sold the majority of his 500 pieces — his biggest sale for AED125,000 — and next month (April 3 to 6) will be unveiling an exclusive new collection at World Art Dubai.
“I wasn’t getting any luck from galleries that I approached,” he says on the phone, “they were saying my work wasn’t good enough.” But that didn’t stop Rogal, who explains that he was inspired by the story of music mogul Jay-Z, and refused to give up on something that he was passionate about.
“I thought that because I was having some success, why didn’t I just bypass galleries and do things my own way. Then I could be in control of my own works and who I sell them too,” he says. “It’s funny, now I get many requests from galleries who now want to work with me!”
That direct access is something that has endeared the jovial Rogal to his collectors. “Being able to talk to them directly means that we can build a bond. We discuss the art, we negotiate the price, and it is clear that they really appreciate talking directly to the artist,” he says.
Something that was more unexpected is the connection that Rogal has made with the luxury watch community — who have taken a shining to his regular use of high-end watches juxtaposed against bright pop-art icons and consumerist branding. An example of this — and also one of his most popular recent pieces — is ‘Happy Meal’, depicting Patek Philippe watches inside a box of McDonald’s fries. “There were rumours circulating that Patek was up for sale and I thought how funny it would be if the McDonald’s company bought one of the world’s most historically revered watch companies,” he laughs.
“It’s not about having cheap or expensive tastes — you can have both — it’s about being comfortable in knowning what it is that you like”
As in ‘Happy Meal’, the juxtaposition of brash commercialism and high-end luxury is a regular theme in Rogal’s work, but he doesn’t see himself making anti-consumerist statements.
“I like politics, but I don’t want to paint about it. I would rather focus on more light-hearted things. With Happy Meal, one of the things it says is that it is not about having cheap or expensive tastes, you can have both, but it’s about being comfortable in knowing what you like.”
And it seems that more and more people are comfortable in knowing MrArtPride.