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Interview with visual artist Folrry

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Interview with visual artist Folrry

How did you get into ART ?  

I got into art literally by studying other visual artist’s artwork. I loved what they created, and I wanted to create. So, I learnt and started creating my artworks.

How would you describe your creative process?  
I spend a lot of time thinking about concepts sometimes and I start creating parts of the artworks bit by bit. I start with space; what do I want the space to look like, what goes into the space, what story am I trying to tell, or am I even trying to tell any story? I must say, I view every artistic element that I create to make up the final artwork in a singular and standalone form. They all come together in a pluralistic manner to form a singular masterpiece, which is interesting, and at the same time challenging because I am working with shapes, characters, forms, objects, and most importantly translational human experiences; be it my personal experiences or those that I have witnessed.
Most times the process takes weeks or months and sometimes it is rapid. I might be sleeping and here comes the idea, the concept, I get up at midnight and I start creating the piece of art and I don’t stop until I finish it.
What was the key influence that led to the development of your process and style?  
Shapes, forms, objects,colours, their relatedness and relativity to human experiences, emotions and feelings. You get into a spacious room and the way it is set up really makes you feel some kind of way, sometimes you understand it while sometimes you can’t really grasp it, or wearing or choosing colours for an outing or occassion, loving a car because of how it looks on the external and the aftereffect it has on you depending on what you feel at that particular or prior to it. It is fascinating, the human nature and reaction to these things and this has in turn been an integral part of what influenced my art process and style. It is a very multiplex influence translated into a simplistic metaphor of beautiful artwork.
What does art mean to you personally? Is there a goal you’re trying to accomplish?  
To me personally, art means experiences. Be it from artist perspective, or viewer perspective. Spoken or unspoken experiences, tasteful or distasteful. As far there is an experience, then there is art.  Every art I make accomplishes a goal, because I didn’t keep this thought, experience and concept to myself, I shared it in a form of art piece. Hopefully, someone or group of people somewhere can relate with it. I feel that’s the ultimate goal, because from it springs other goals.
How has covid affected you and your art?
It gave me time to create and made me come to the full realisation of art as a product and service. Create the best, be better than the previous best, ask for the best. Covid effect on me personally, is anything could happen anytime but don’t stop believing in yourself.
What’s next? 
You will see…smiles☺ 

Instagram: @folrry
Behance: folrry

Interview with artist Andrea Familari

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Interview with artist Andrea Familari

Dear Andrea, thank you for taking time for an interview with us!

Your work is very diverse, expressing itself through the use of various media. Tell us about the creative process behind it.

It’s true, it is really diverse, it combines a lot of practices in one single person. For Tribute to the Noise, the latest series I am developing since two years and a half, I focused on representing the randomity of the behaviour and the constant that in a lot of studies is described as “random variable”: something that you must calculate in all scientific studies, and the one that if you wish to avoid, it will always be there.

In my work, I am translating this random variable into a video with the use of the noise, the video noise. Each video relies on its own rules but, from the audience point of view, it can be perceived differently: you can feel it, understanding its substance immediately. The results can be described as “chaotic”. As an outcome of these explorations, I have developed an original code in GLSL that uses a random value generating the noise itself.

With this process in mind, applied to my personal aesthetic and colours research, I wanted to push my practice forward and use this palette in the most various way possible, therefore experimenting with lots of different media. I wanted to constantly practice by generating and developing different artworks with the same “random” variable, permeated by the same aesthetic: from a big LED wall to a more conventional FULL-HD screening, from different dimensions and aspect ratio of screens to a LED Fan Display, from Prints to 3D Sculptures.

My palette of colours and video movements is definitely evolving with time, but the core remains the same and it is applied in everything that can be produced in the arts – following the daily growth of possibilities found in old, new and future media.

I am very critical towards the rush to the new technologies, the risk to create the first installation that comes to mind, or use them in a simple way without questioning them enough, using them only for the reason of their novelty. To me, time is of vital essence to allow new technologies to sediment and find a truthful, artistic meaning, not only using them for the pure rush of being the “first”.

Right now I’m focused on developing a VR installation and continuing my research on printing techniques, testing different papers, aluminum and 3D sculptures.

At the same time, I’m producing a new show with Fronte Vacuo (frontevacuo.com): an artists group which I co-founded with Marco Donnarumma (marcodonnarumma.com) and Margherita Pevere (www.margheritapevere.com).

The group was born with the aim to address the current convergence of ecological disruption, socio-political polarization and technological advance. We are working really closely in order to achieve a shared, collective critical thinking flux, each of us with their own expertise but in a continuous exchange of ideas. I’m really glad and proud to have found this sinergy.

What is the main idea you want your audience to take with them?

It’s not really an idea, but feelings. I’ve always appreciated standing in front of an artwork and understanding my own version of it without even reading the description, sometimes not even the title. And I have always remembered the feelings that I had, stronger than the idea that the artist wanted to share. Sometimes these two might overlap, but not always.

When you find yourself in front of an artwork with no coordinates to follow or over explanatory labels, you will try to reflect on something starting from it, and that will probably carry your mind somewhere else. That’s the journey I am interested in. By allowing yourself into my artworks, I am sure half of the meaning resides already there in yourself: then a part of the audience will maybe reach my idea, or not. And it doesn’t really matter in the end.

How would you define your personal aesthetics?

In a few words I would say a raw, hardcore grudge.

Naturally it’s not just that, but I would love this to be the only and final definition. I am focused on the grotesque that you can extrapolate from the use of the colors and shapes.

Tell us about the spaces within which you work.

It’s been two years since I started working in my current studio in Mitte. It’s a shared space with four artists – visual artists, sound artists and film directors. It’s basically divided into two different spaces: one which is more like an office with desks, computers, electronics and so on, and then a basement/atelier/tryouts space. Usually, most of the time, the only thing I need is my computer. But it is not the typical space where everyone has their own desk and we are by ourselves. We all have a good alliance and are really close, we are friends. We are trying to maintain an environment where mutual help and exchange are fundamental values at the core of our shared practice and space.

Have you ever had a moment when you questioned your career entirely?

Yes of course, during the last nine years it happened more than once. I guess every artist, every year, questions themselves.There is a moment, when you perceive the shadow of futility, looking at years and years of practice and feeling completely out of time or without a clear message for your audience…

From my perspective, it comes down to the fact that, in the end, we are human beings. With all the feelings and implications that derive from it. The most important part, though, is to get through these bad times. No matter what or how. I am usually getting over these moments by working harder.

Do you find that Berlin’s art scene inspires or influences your art?

Definitely. At least, when I moved here for sure. I moved to Berlin because of the incredibly nuanced and growing media art scene. A lot of artists from the past that inspired me were living here or their works were “born” and exhibited here. I wanted to see them live and not just on the web. After seven years of research and investigations, I found my own aesthetic and the aim in my work; what defines my “brush”. Even today, Berlin is still a place where I am intrigued by the art that is constantly in the making and the community surrounding this production. There is still a good exchange and knowledge sharing in the artistic community. It’s something that I have and I will always appreciate.

What advice would you give to a young artist following your steps?

The best advice that I continue to believe in and follow everyday is to “never give up” and “work everyday”. It sounds obvious and cheesy, but it is the fundamental part of every practice. As I said before, there will be dark times where you will question your entire career, but staying focused and continuing to believe in it, after years of trying and changing, and changing again, you will achieve what you have in mind. From my experience and encounters of my career, I didn’t find only one path to follow, no one can direct you where to go.

A good piece of art or, actually, any kind of job requires hard work before achieving the ideal results. It’s not something that appears overnight, but after years, and it may never do. And we need to keep on creating, being at peace with it. Everything needs time, and everyone has their own times.

Instagram Andrea Familari: @famifax

Interview with artist Ewa Doroszenko

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Interview with artist Ewa Doroszenko

Description of the project

Body Editor

photographic project (a series of photographic prints and GIF files)
Link to the full project: ewa-doroszenko.com/bodyeditor

The project was inspired by the failures and bugs in the popular beauty apps, where unnatural bodies get distorted. While the Internet can seem like a place disconnected from the physical world, much of the activity that occurs there deeply affects how we feel outside of it. In the age of social media, technology provides women with tools that allow them to quickly create dream digital images of themselves. Using various beauty applications, they can smooth, contour their faces, whiten their teeth, add a few centimeters of height, enlarge their eyes, choose different mouths, and use many other options. Digitally edited images can serve as aspirational fantasies and occasionally they even can have a positive impact – when they are just effects of joyful entertainment. But can the game in which your body is a battleground be truly enjoyable? The phrase from Barbara Kruger’s iconic work has just as much resonance today as it did more than a quarter of a century ago.

While preparing the project I used photography as a starting point, alongside digital tools to create an expressive project that is both a critique and a celebration of the ongoing progress in contemporary technology and culture. I employed many methods of creating images: preparing three-dimensional collages constructed from free stock images and my portraits, photographing the scenes, printing in large sizes, physically manipulating prints, and digitally editing selected photos. In the final work, I tried to leave visible traces of digital processing, partly revealing my working methods to provoke discussion about contemporary photography.

How did you get into art?

I never doubted that I wanted to be an artist. Even as a child, I heard very often that I am very talented in drawing. Although my interests were quite broad and I liked science very much, the desire to create my own reality through art eventually won. I studied painting, which quickly became a basic medium in my projects, and finally, I got my doctoral degree in fine arts at the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun. During my studies, I also began to experiment with a conceptual approach to photography. I started to understand photography not as a single act of liberating the shutter, but as a sequence of resulting actions, which extends from aesthetic choices, the staging of scenes, physical and digital manipulation of images to the final arrangement of the exhibition. Currently, in my work, I use the consonance of many media – from photography to sound. I am constantly fascinated by art and its use as a kind of language.

What does art mean to you personally?

First of all, I try to use art to create new worlds, a reality different from that which surrounds me. Art is also my primary tool for researching and describing the issues of contemporaneity. I am primarily interested in the meaning of the image in technological reality and the fluidity of beauty standards. My artistic explorations are not limited by any medium, either traditional or digital. Trying to express my thoughts, I experiment with various methods and technologies. Whenever I think about creating new works, I try to create structures with multiple layers of meaning. The material choices are calculated and meant to bring on the idea.

Is there a goal you’re trying to accomplish?

Sure, I usually try to have clearly defined goals. Of course, as I grow and respond to a changing situation, I modify my goals. This makes it much easier for me to make decisions. On the other hand, there is a lot of room for experimentation in my artistic activity, so I often don’t know where the whole creative process will lead me. That is why I try to maintain a balance between planning activities and responding flexibly to the situation.

At the moment, together with my husband Jacek Doroszenko, we are working on a new project entitled „Bodyfulness“, which, like our previous activities, is a creative experiment combining sound and visual art. My goal is to release the project this year in a form of the unique music album and present an exhibition which is an audiovisual study of how modern technology and culture change our intimate relationships.

Do you have a life philosophy?

Yes, I have a certain philosophy of life. In a nutshell, it can be described as follows: I try to concentrate my energy on the things that depend on me. If I do something, I want to do it in the best and most professional way possible, regardless of whether my action is appreciated or not.

How do you think the art world will shape in the future?

The ongoing pandemic and simultaneous digital transformation have a huge impact on economic and social development. There are also great changes in the field of culture and art. As reality is increasingly being challenged by the virtual world and technologies are developing so rapidly, I think that in the future artistic productions will become more engaging and interactive. These new approaches and tools will perhaps allow even more artistic freedom, offering completely new creative opportunities, including the possibility of mixing elements that were probably impossible to combine before. I think that in the future, the physical experience of the exhibition will continue to be strong. But galleries will expand significantly in ways that are not just physical, but also digital.

Ewa Doroszenko Instagram: @ewadoroszenko

Interview with artist N.Stortelder

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Interview with artist N.Stortelder

Can you tell us about the process of making your work?

Every time the process is a little different. Ideas are everywhere and when one sticks I have to get it out of my head. Sometimes I will set up a photoshoot with a specific idea in mind and other times the structures of an image will lead me completely. Photography is almost always the basis of my work but I still think sculpturally; copying, pasting, layering, and transforming imagery into a new reality.

Sometimes it feels like I work in reverse. Only at the end of the making process when I feel the work is finished I can clearly see the meaning in what I was trying to achieve.

What is your daily routine when working?

I don’t have a set daily routine when working and that is something that I like. Each phase of my art practice has its own routine characteristics, however, in all of my practice the studio must be tidy and clean. This keeps my head empty enough to focus on the art.

Meditation helps me to listen to what is really important, and coffee helps me buzz with ideas whilst listening to the Coffee Jazz playlist…

What was the key influence that led to the development of your process and style?

During a study of advertising, communication and design I realised I was drawn towards the photographic elements of the process. This led me down a different path into the fine art world where I eventually graduated as a sculptor from the art academy.

The choice to switch from the foundation year “Lifestyle & Design” to Fine Art and graduating as a sculptor has been of great value not only for the process but also my style.

What does art mean to you personally? Is there a goal you’re trying to accomplish?

Art is my diary. It is an escape and a release. It is a filter to see the world through. I try to understand myself and the world through art.

Do you have a life philosophy? Does your creative practice fit in with this philosophy?

My motto in life since I was little has been „Then die“ (in response to the question; What is the worst that can happen?) This motto has brought me to special places, has led me to special people and has pushed me to do things that I was initially afraid of. This sounds a little heavier than it actually is because of course I don’t want to die…

I also try to live a healthy life by looking after my body, but also my mind. When they are in balance, the creative work can flow more easily.

However, I am aware that black cannot do without white. There are days when everything goes against the grain, when I don’t understand the world. These “dark” days can also give me inspiration. This makes me wonder what happens when everything is in perfect balance. Could I still make art?

Have you ever had a moment when you questioned your career entirely?

Of course, everyday.

How has covid affected you and your art?

Practically speaking, because of the pandemic my part-time work as a teacher was largely canceled, and therefore, I had all the time in the world with my good old all-time favorite friend; My Art.

It felt like home. I finally had some time to take a step back and see from a distance what I had been doing all these years – only creating, with no real structure or plan. I decided to invest some time in organizing all of that work and create more structure moving forward.

I was also able to create a bit of a platform for my work and communicate with a small but appreciative audience which I feel extremely grateful for, especially during these times.

How do you think the art world will shape in the future?

In the same way it has always done.

What’s next?

I am currently doing research on how I can bring my 2D digital work back into a 3D reality. Next to that, I want to create a solo exhibition with the biggest prints possible.

Instagram Noortje Stortelder: @noortje_stortelder

Profile picture is made by photographer Jon Twigg jbtwigg.com

“Success is an Emotion”: Interview with Fashion Designer Roma Uvarov

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Julia Kryshevich

“Success is an Emotion”: Interview with Fashion Designer Roma Uvarov

Roma Uvarov is 23 years old, seven of which he has devoted to fashion. Born in the small city in the south of Russia, he first moved to Moscow to showcase his collection at Fashion Week and take part in a popular TV show about vogue. Internationally acknowledged as an up-and-coming Gen Z designer, Roma Uvarov admits he neither enjoys rubbing elbows in professional circles, nor likes talking too much. However, he has generously shared his life experience with us. More on the contradictory personality of Roma Uvarov (who is a renegade, a romantic, and a hard worker at once), read in the interview below.

PH: You call yourself a visual, and it is reflected in your biography. While attending the PR faculty, you felt disappointed in the learning process and took up some creative pastimes such as Photoshop classes and reading self-help books. Why fashion? After all, it requires some hard skills like sewing and stitching… 

R.U: Even before entering the university, I thought of running my own business. You know, I realized the irrelevance of public education rather early — it just makes you lose your interest in the subject chosen. However, I felt the need to study marketing so that I could promote and present my business in the future. There are many examples like that today, when a really good artist or a graphic designer just can’t tell the audience what his works are about. 

In my case, I was impressed by fashion from early on, watching TV shows as a kid and trying to make conceptual collages later. Yet I wouldn’t think of becoming a fashion designer at the time! But at a certain point I started thinking about my plans for life, asked myself what I wanted to achieve… and then Olya Sadovaya came along. Olya is quite a prominent fashion designer in Krasnodar, the city I was staying during my studies. So, yes, we met at some local party and she offered me a job at her studio.

PH: That’s how you received your first job offer in fashion. When did you have a feeling you were ready for more?

R.U: In Olya’a studio I was responsible for social media marketing and brand promotion. My boss was satisfied with my work, so quite soon my duties were expanded. I became Olya’s right hand, together we elaborated new collections, making them cool, unusual without spending much money. Otherwise it wouldn’t work as we needed to stay within the modest budget of the studio (I even worked for free for 2,5 years there). Then Olya would marry, have a child and, obviously, step back a bit… At some point I realized I got to move on, so I started thinking of setting up my own label.

PH: So you left? 

R.U: When I first tried making clothes myself, I felt something had changed. Back then I was young and active and open to experience. I experimented a lot while still working for Olya and finally I decided to launch my brand of sweatshirts. I think it was 2016. Since then I’ve been signing my clothes, which brought the competitive spirit in my relations with the head of the studio. 

The last straw was the arrival of a potential (and long-awaited) investor, who was ready to support us financially on the condition that he could influence the brand’s politics and vision. Of course, I wasn’t ok with that. One day I left the studio. Working as an independent designer now I always strive for autonomy. I don’t look back at the others, I try to create something brand new. Yes, I’m an introvert, yet I love finding myself in the flow of life. 

PH: What collection do you consider your first one?

R.U: That’s hard. I see a collection as a pool of looks and garments, something big… While working for Olya Sadovaya, it still wasn’t like that. When I got separated, yes, that’s another story. My first collection consisted of T-shirts, just a merch. I would get bored soon, so I switched to creating fully-fledged ready-to-wear looks.

PH: In 2018 you debuted at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia. You’ve been a regular participant of the fashion event ever since. However, we didn’t see any collections by Roma Uvarov Design in the recent seasons of MBFW (April and October, 2020), which ran mostly online. Why? 

R.U: Oh yes, I perfectly remember how it was. A few months before the MBFW we (hereinafter, Roma Uvarov Design team) wrote a letter to the organizers of the event complaining that young regional brands, unlike the Moscow-based ones, don’t receive any financial support. So they agreed to help us! 

Concerning the latest seasons, Roma Uvarov Design should have participated in the program in April, however, the life shows were cancelled and we didn’t want to engage in digital format. Personally I don’t feel anything special while staring at the screen… Together with my assistant I headed to my homeland Adygeya to wait out the period of quarantine… and then the MBFW organizers reached me. It was three days before the event and they eventually wanted me to take part! So we created a series of mood boards with some bright colleges that looked somewhat bizarre, just in the spirit of the brand. 

Of course, I hoped for a life MBFW taking place in autumn, I wished I could show two collections by Roma Uvarov Design at once. Unfortunately, it has even got worse in terms of the pandemic, so we decided to make a separate life fashion show inviting guests, constructing some art objects, all in all, making up an entire concept. 

PH: By the way, in the recent season of MBFW there were a few participants of the Krasnodar-based ‘Fashion a la Russe’ project, namely, Olga Kazakova, Nadezhda Belousova, Valeria Klimovskikh. Do you know any of them? You might have crossed paths while hanging around in the designers’ community in Krasnodar. 

R.U: To be perfectly honest, none of the names sound familiar to me. While working in Krasnodar, I desperately sought an opportunity of working independently, thus, I was for separation from the professional community. On the whole, I’m not good at getting on with those people who I differ on certain points with. It brings negativity to my life, which I constantly try to avoid. Actually, you don’t have time to chat, when you are all about work. 

By the way, it was the ‘Fashion a la Russe’ project that helped me to get to my first MBFW. Although I could take part in the event for free, I badly needed money for the trip and accommodation and staging the show… We turned to ‘Fashion a la Russe’, and they provided us with some financial support, so we could showcase our collection in Moscow and in St. Petersburg the next day. 

PH: You also took part in ‘Podium’ (editor’s note: the Russian counterpart for ‘Project Runway’ reality TV show). What do you think of that experience? Do you see it rather as a way to promote yourself or an opportunity to level up, advance your design skills? Is it real at all to learn something on TV shows that are primarily meant to entertain the audience? 

R.U: You can always learn something in any situation. The thing is to realize what and how you can learn in specific circumstances. Frankly speaking, I don’t enjoy being solely identified with ‘Podium’, because the collections I launch under Roma Uvarov Design are superior to anything I did on the project. What I do now is more sincere and laborious, however, I love reminiscing about those times on the project. 

Taking part in ‘Podium’ turned out to be a tremendously new experience for me. For 2 months I and the other participants stayed in a hotel where we did nothing but worked and interacted with each other (on camera, of course). We neither could use our mobile devices, nor chat with strangers on the streets. The pressure was strong, which made us do our best. 

As for the TV show itself, it would be an exaggeration to claim that ‘Podium’ focused on vogue. First of all, it was a reality show about designers, an old-fashioned one, I might say. Just imagine a group of fashion designers competing for the title of the best tailor or cutter. That hardly matches reality, does it? Obviously, I wanted to promote myself participating in ‘Podium’. It was 2018, I already graduated from the university and was planning to settle down in Moscow. The project just quickened the move and made a great ad campaign to my T-shirts collection (which I, actually, foresaw). 

PH: Today many young creatives face the issue of self-positioning. In the modern world it seems ok to promote oneself on every corner. However, sometimes that can prevent the person from striving for quality of the product. How do you figure out this problem? 

R.U: I just realize the brand’s DNA. It absolutely coincides with my DNA as a designer. Roma Uvarov Design is all about the taste, it’s really subjective. Thus, the promotion of myself and my brand are twin interdependent processes. I am personally engaged in PR support and other tasks. I don’t find it right to devote all the time to creativity — one also needs to market and establish the working process. All in all, my job is very important and reasonable, I would hardly call it creative. But one thing for sure, I purely enjoy it. 

By the way, I’m a big fan of restrictions. To my mind, a free person is the one who establishes some frameworks and lives with them. Otherwise, I just mess around clutching at everything (If only I could do all those things perfectly). I also don’t enjoy having free time, it discourages me. 

PH: Back to your collections. One could call you an upcycle-designer: you take some long-forgotten things and use them as decorative elements in the outfits. Is it just a creative approach or you follow here an eco-friendly mission? 

R.U: It’s a kind of inner impulse. I want to recycle the old material to give it a second life. About 80% of my first collection was manufactured under the upcycling principle. I have always been into upcycling, but in the beginning of the pandemic I felt the relevance of that issue anew. 

The question that I faced at the time was what to do with the winter collection that I couldn’t fully present. So we together with the NOB agency (editor’s note: Roma Uvarov Design is presented by the Moscow-based fashion bureau and showroom NOB agency) decided to collect all the unused materials to integrate them into the new out-of-season collection. There were so many things that we feared not to be able to cover them all. However, we managed to do that. Nothing had been thrown away, the upcycling policy was also applied to the production of accessories. 

PH: Minimalism is all the rage. People try to get rid of the extra items and obsessions. Collections by Roma Uvarov Design don’t really fit into this philosophy, right? 

R.U: To begin with, Roma Uvarov Design is not about following fashion trends. Surely, we elaborate our collections in compliance with some principles that we share such as calm, rationality, body consciousness. However, I don’t think that minimalism is so trendy. Folks have always liked standing out of the crowd. Thus, in the nearest future it might be appropriate to talk about austerity blended with a grain of personal approach. 

How do you define ‘success’?  

R.U: Well, it’s tricky. On the one hand, success is about stability with everyone doing one’s own thing, enjoying it and charging for it, of course. On the other hand, I, personally, feel successful when facing some unexpected projects, stepping out of my comfort zone. The latter is even a better fit for me. Unfortunately, the industry of fashion in Russia doesn’t develop that quickly. Sometimes I feel like my job doesn’t fulfill me, everything goes so regular. Yet under stress I feel a lot happier. Say, success is an emotion. Every team should have it, because it unites and enriches all of us. 

PH: And final question, how has the pandemic affected your creative process in terms of goal setting? 

R.U: I find the COVID-19 pandemic a very interesting time with no bindings existing. No doubt, there are still some unwritten canons for designers: e.g. one should launch new campaigns. But at the same time one is free to work at their own pace and on their terms. It feels like life has been put on pause. 

I had the same thing. In early spring 2020 I went home to the sunny Adygeya. In fact, I didn’t have to work, so I spent my time reflecting. As a result, I started accepting myself. Before that I used to be afraid of calling myself a romantic (that I obviously was). I thought it went against the grain of my public image. I used a pretentious look as a protection means against the world around me. Today I have every confidence that clothes should play up a personality, and not vice versa. I have also reviewed the history of my family. It’s the new genuine Roma Uvarov standing before you now with fresh green blood running through his veins.

All photographs provided and owned by Roma Uvarov Design

Interview with artist Tania Rivilis

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L i s a  L u k i a n o v a

Interview with artist Tania Rivilis
Hello Tania! Thank you for taking time for that interview. As I read in your biography you started painting at the age of 27. Have you always been interested in Art or was it an impulsive decision? Could you please tell us more how you came up with the idea of expressing yourself through the painting?
I don’t know why it took me so long to start painting. I can’t help myself but think about what it would be like if I started, for example, at the age of 10, how different would it be now. But anyway at this point I’m trying to make up for all that lost time in every possible way. My acquaintance with oil paints happened in Germany, where I had moved at around 26. All my life I had been feeling that I had to express something, that this craving for art was always in me.
And I had been drawn to art for a long time: I studied media design and art history at the university and could stare at a picture in a museum for hours (I was lucky that Moscow and St. Petersburg are packed with great museums). But the urge to paint really rolled over and splashed out when I was left all alone and away from home, from comfort, from being inside the community and not out. After a noisy crowded metropolis, a small German city (I moved to Essen at that time) seemed to be absolutely silent. All the buzz stopped, leaving me with nothing but my consciousness. Perhaps this new state of mind helped me to concentrate on the inner side. My boyfriend (who is now my husband) gifted me oil paints, brushes, and canvas. At first, there were indecisive strokes with a small brush, dozens of books by old masters, and copies of their works. But after a few years, my movements became more confident, and the colors got bolder. And here I am now: covering wood panels with wide brush strokes and painting the shadows with ultramarine or bright orange.
2. How did your moving to Germany from Russia affect your creativity and perception of the world?
Germany is a country of order and accuracy, but also of freedom of being whoever you want to be: I guess such people as David Bowie or Iggy Pop were drawn here for a reason. I suppose this atmosphere helped me get away from all the mess in my head left from my previous life, and finally, be liberated. Although the German autumn still kicks my happy thinking’s ass sometimes, I owe it to those days spent at home with a cup of hot tea, music in the background, and the smell of oil paints.
I live in Aachen now, a beautiful city with small streets of great history, the smell of Prints (traditional Aachen cookies), right on the border of Netherlands and Belgium. This freedom of choice, freedom of movement, a variety of cultures and traditions, languages, cuisine, etc. – this really changed my worldview.
3. How did you find your own unique style of painting or are you still exploring new art languages and techniques? Describe your style in one sentence, please.

Well, I’m still searching for my own expressive language and style, and it seems that this search, this path IS my style in a way. It is still too young to be constant, but already strong enough to write a series of paintings for several galleries. Because of the fact that I came to art so late, I subconsciously try to travel a very long way in an incredibly short time. It feels like I am late for the train and run after it, jumping on the step with one foot – this is how I see my presence on the art scene. As for the technique, I accidentally discovered the OSB panel about a year ago in the Bauhaus. I thought “this is a damn fine surface for a painting”, and ever since have been painting mainly on these panels, having pre-processed the edges and covering them. The oil adheres perfectly to the surface and the texture of the pressed woodиis perfectly visible and gives an unexpected vibe and sense to the picture.
Color is the power – that’s how I would describe my style. Color has some kind of magical power over people. It excites and frightens, lures and rejects. In my works, I want to convey this power – in every stroke, in every line. But if I were to pull my head out of the box with some pretty talking, I could simply say I paint in Contemporary Realism style.
4. You mainly do portraits. So, how do you choose a model for these? Are you painting from photographs or do people pose for you? Please tell us about the process of working with the model or the choice of the model.
I adore people with a non-standard appearance, with unique beauty – the artist can spot such people in the crowd in a couple of seconds. These are people with expressive, explicit facial features or wonderfully deep and sad eyes. There is some kind of connection that is established and strengthened after I paint the portrait. I find a model on the street, in a cafe, on Instagram. Sometimes I can come out as a total creep, staring at a person, imagining writing his or her face, painting a nose with a beautiful hump, and adding a highlight to the edge of the pupil. Hope I don’t make these people go paranoid.
Usually, the process is like this: I invite the model to the studio (already having ideas for the portrait in my head), take a couple of photos (ok, not a couple, often the number is around 100). Then I select those that came out closest to my idea. I make some sketches, plan the composition and color scheme. Although I can honestly say that in the process everything
changes by 80 percent. What I focus on most is the eyes. The eyes can tell a lot more about a person than anything else.
5. Tell us about the spaces within you live and work.
I work in our house in a small studio under the roof. The house is located not far from the forest, so through the window, I see treetops, puffy clouds, and incredible sunsets. Unfortunately, because of my main job, I often get a chance to get to my studio only in the evening. So I created a lighting system: a mix of warm and cold light that helps (albeit with difficulty) to see what I paint. But sometimes I manage to work during the day, on weekends mostly. I had dreamed of natural daylight for a long time and when we moved to Aachen my dream came true. Now I have a new dream – a big studio (hear that, universe?). But I love
the one I have now – it is ideally cozy, smells of oil paints and coffee, a vinyl record or lectures playing, – this is my meditation room, my fortress. On the cedar wood walls, there are paintings in antique frames: my first works that I keep or some paintings from the artist fellas. In the middle, there is a vintage sofa, a bookshelf, and a vintage büro. Two easels, one large and one smaller for parallel work. I try to change my focus if something doesn’t work, so switching from one to the other refreshes the look. And then, returning back to the painting after a pause gives you the possibility to see mistakes that are easier to correct.
6. What is inspiration for you and where do you derive it from? Do you struggle with periods of burnout or vice versa allow emotions to take up?

My most powerful inspiration is people, their faces, eyes, gestures. As well as the combination of colors in nature, the light falling on my sister’s eyelashes, beautiful thin fingers on the phone, an open ankle, veins on an arm. Traveling is one more source of inspiration, people from other cultures, different smells and sounds. Sometimes absolutely strange things can channel my vibe, and I immediately take photos of them for the future because you never know what will come out in handy.
As for the second part of your question, I used to think that I am the only one having burnouts and that this is due to the fact that I am a rookie in painting. But after talking to friends (great artists with many years of experience and recognition), I realized that all creative people are doomed to bear this burden. We have to release all the energy and replenish it, and the period between these two states is that very burnout. Sometimes it takes longer, sometimes it goes quickly. As a very emotional person, I immediately react to such shifts and at times not at all positively. Frankly, there are moments when I want to break my brushes and throw the picture out of the window. But you come to senses (or somebody gives you a good old “you are not shit” pep talk), understand that everybody sucks from time to time, it doesn’t mean the end of the world, the picture can hit the neighbor’s head and that will definitely not be productive at all. Therefore, I go do some sports (I love MMA) or jogging. Sport helps distract the mind and relieve emotional tension.
7. “Tania’s works are focused on the philosophical reading of the human image and the dialectical concept of the human soul.”- this is a quote from your website. Could you please elaborate more what you mean by this?
We all have things to hide. Something we don’t want others to see, something we wish to keep unknown and untouched, something that makes us – us, both good and bad. With that something comes a story. And my paintings aim to tell that story: unique, brave, and most of all honest. The whole idea of a portrait, of an artist exposing the inner side of a model is very
intimate. That is why I always try to get to know my companion first: to make him or her comfortable, to break the tension which almost always freezes a non-professional model, to learn that very story I’m so eager to translate into visual language. A portrait is not just about the technique, and I guess that is why I’m so focused on it. In order to create something worthy, you have to explore human nature – for the painting to be not about the artist, but about the person on it. Live, sometimes even strange postures and gestures, expressive faces, and the most important part – the eyes full of feelings, secrets, and thoughts.
Through years I’d been trying to find my way to capture that great human lure that cannot be told with words. The answer was discovered in being bold. We are used to seeing the world in colors and textures it comes in, but sometimes they are just not enough to reveal life in its true fullness. Sometimes a touch of a loved one is warmer than the sun, sometimes space becomes ephemeral consisting of nothing but emptiness, sometimes tenderness comes along with anguish, and agony is cloaked with peace. It may not be realistic, but it’s perfectly real.

8.What are your future artistic plans and current projects you are working on.

There is an exhibition currently taking place at the Bonnard Gallery in the Netherlands. I met David and Rene (the owners of the gallery) not so long ago, but I’m already totally crazy about them. They are professionals from head to toes, and I am happy to be working with them. At the moment I am working on sketches for large paintings for Bonnard, as well as for several other galleries in the Netherlands and other countries.

I also do works for my regular clients in St. Petersburg and Moscow. For them I mainly paint historical portraits, some can be seen in the great Astoria Hotel or the Marble Palace. The history of the Russian Empire is my other passion. And I am glad there are people who try to preserve it.
Unfortunately, due to the current situation, many projects had to be postponed, but I believe that someday everything will go back to normal, whatever that normal is. There are a lot of plans and ideas in my head. As well as artistically evolving, developing my style, gaining some trust and acclaim in the art community, and never stopping.

Interview with artist Anna Tsvell

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Interview with artist Anna Tsvell

Hello Anna, thank you for taking time for that interview. Let’s start with a first question. What was your journey up until now in becoming an artist?
Hello !
Well I decided to be a full time artist not so long ago – in 2014 year and it was one of the best decisions in my life. I have a bachelor degree in Developmental and Child Psychology but I didn’t work even one day as a child psychologist. I’ve been working as a copywriter and event manager but I always was dreaming to be independent and to work for myself – in 2014 my dream came true.

You have a very recognizable artistic style in your paintings. What did it take to develop it?
Thank you for noticing the uniqueness of my style – it is very important for me.
As a said before I began my art career in 2014 year and I did it from absolute zero – at first I began as a digital artist but it was easy, I was just redrawing some photos and it was boring so I decided to draw and paint with traditional art supplies. I didn’t know anything about art world and art business when I was staring, I did everything very intuitively but even than I knew that I want my own remarkable style. And it was hard – hard to understand myself, hard to paint and draw without any skills or art education, hard to buy good expensive art supplies, hard to understand how does it all works in art world. But if you want something very much there are no borders so here I am now. The best advice I can give to beginners is to practice every day – to redraw, to doodle, to sketch, to find your own personal uniqueness or any psychological fixations and make them work on you . I am still improving my skills and working on my style every day, my style is changing from year to year and it is normal and great, I hope that this process will be endless .

What inspires your work the most?
I am taking the inspiration from absolutely everything so I can say that my inspiration is always with me, it is as normal process for me as breathing for example. Of course there are days of some kind of artistic bocks – I am just taking days off, walking a lot, traveling ( I am missing traveling sooooooo much now ) , reading books etc – and when the block ends I am coming out from it with new ideas.

Tell us about the spaces within you live and work?
My studio is located in my apartments because I am lazy and I don’t think that I’ll be ready to go somewhere else to the studio every day )) It is very comfortable for me to work from home – I am located in Moscow oblast now in a beautiful apartment complex near the forest and lake.

What is your favorite museum or art gallery and why?
There are three of my favorite galleries which I’ve visited : Getty Center in Los Angeles, Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice and Museum der bildenden Künste in Leipzig – incredible places ! So atmospheric , so unique. These galleries gave me so much inspiration, I can spend hours there and visit it as many times as it’s possible ! But if I need to choose one ( it’s hard to do!) I’ll choose Getty Center in Los Angeles – amazing museum with incredible view on my favorite city in the whole world.

Who would you most like to collaborate with and why?
My dream is collaborate with Gucci and YSL brands, my favorite ones. Also I think it would be cool to make a collar with photographers – photography is my second one passion and I think we can create a cool project from zero. Also my dream is to collaborate with a vine brand – I would like to create a vine label one day.

How would you define your personal aesthetics?
As I like to say – I am a professional hedonist.

What is your favorite artwork from your own collection?

It is my «4 am, piercing look at the city from the Hollywood Hills» painting from Essential scars series , 2020 . This series includes four paintings and it is about all that visible and invisible ( physical and mental ) scars we are getting during all our life. «4 am, piercing look at the city from the Hollywood Hills» is the biggest one from this series ( 120 x 100 cm ) and it is quite personal – it’s about a long way to the dream : strawberry and a glass of champagne – my favorite hedonistic symbols – are about happiness and success , red lines inside the abstract body figure are symbolizing scars that were received during this hard way.

Interview with photographer Kira Gyngazova

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Interview with photographer Kira Gyngazova

Hello Kira! We are happy to welcome you at HAZEGALLERY and would like you to tell us more about you: where you from? How did you approach photography and when did you start?

I am from Russia, Saint-Petersburg. I studied philosophy in the university. I got acquainted with photography when I first went living abroad to France 10 years ago. I bought a film camera on eBay and just started wondering int he cities snapping everything that caught my eye. I didn’t know that time that photography could be something more serious, like a job. I never interested in other photographers and even didn’t develop photos during a year and barely showed them anyone. That is very different feeling that I have nowadays because it was very pure, just for myself.

I started doing photography full-time when I moved to Bangkok, Thailand 3 years ago. This city literally blowed my mind and as I love cinema a lot, I found Bangkok very cinematographic and started to do a lot of street photos. From this point photography became my main passion and occupation.

Do you prefer shooting digitally or on film?
I prefer digital as sometimes I have to react very fast not to loose a perfect moment, a moment in between.

What’s your definition of beauty?
Aesthetic pleasure  that brings joyful emotion.

How would you describe the colour palette of your photographs?
It depends on my mood,  I  like desaturated, dark and low contrast tones as well as bright colours as red and green and blue.

Do you have a favorite photograph or painting, which inspires you?
“The sudden gust of the wind” of Jeff Wall. Every time I see this work something clicks in me.

What visual references do you draw upon in your work?
I collect a lot of paintings on my computer as well as screen shots from the movies. I use them as inspiration.

What are your future goals?
Just want to continue to experiment with subjects and mediums. In the nearest future planning to make a short movie

Instagram Kira @kira.gyn

Interview with artist Nat Apanay

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Interview with artist Nat Apanay

1. How would you define beauty in 140 characters or less?
The beauty for me is not a sex, classical pattern, length of legs or yachts, material box or cocoon of our matrix world. The beauty is a synergy of the Nature and the Artistic Mind which puts back together the pieces of flowing living energy working to create a whole greater than the sum of its parts.

2. How would you best describe your style?
Biomorphic abstract impresses of fantastic worlds that appear a qualia from there to this place like a vibrating sculptures. Multi-layer artworks move like a hallucination and embody the complex essence of the human personality. Moreover natural materials such as branches, stones, moss, bones, blood and synthetic materials such as silicone, nails, plastic, money, gadgets are built into the voluminous works like the architectural structure of our time of the anthropocene.

3. Has this always been your style?
I have got a Master’s Degree in Architecture, Academic Arts. I’m used to create works and paintings in the academic way. Besides philosophy, cosmology, neurophysiology, biology and theoretical physics have captured almost all of my attention, becoming a passion and this knowledge has led me to abstraction. I’m proponent of scientists (Eric Kandel, Vilayanur Ramachandran, Samir Zeki, Dick Swaab etc) who study the brain as a part of the science discipline – neuroesthetics who already gives us the better understanding that abstract art affects the development of mind’s potential. Therefore recently the abstraction is the main field of my research. Even now I review selfidentification through the abstract principles and openmind optics, that experiences are presented in such related media as sculpture and video.

4. Do you feel that your works are addressing a topic, theme or problem?
There are two main themes that reflected in my artworks: mind’s potential and coexistence organic world of nature and territory of mankind, technological and synthetic.
And the problem is to create a peaceful ecological connection between man and planet, correct implementation of AI and other our ambitions. I’m trying to find the mental-spiritual bridge that could make a strong collaboration of science and art.

5. What is the driving force behind your work?
My parents and sister are hereditary doctors, farther is a surgeon, so I’m used to research everything in a scientific way, to dissect an issue, get inside it and study the very essence. Therefore new studies in neuroscience and biology are driving force behind my art as well as visiting Kunstkammers, watching online surgeries and studying literature on anatomy. Moreover now I’m getting degree in Western philosophy in Moscow State University. And I need to mention that Eastern philosophy and meditation which I practice in Nepal, Japan, Bali and India helped me in crucial times to stay whole and comprehensive unit of living energy.

6. Have certain artists or movements inspired your work?
Francis Bacon, Mikhail Vrubel, Joseph Beuys and Gerhard Richter are one of my favorite artist. Their subtle perception of the world’s settings, as well as their selfless immersion in art, amazes me and arouses deep respect.
Also I do admire the Western philosophy which researches our matrix world and human place and aim of being. Such great thinkers as Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, Gilles Deleuze as well as Fyodor Dostoevsky, Franz Kafka, Nikolai Gogol and Vladimir Nabokov have formed an amazing inner tool for perception of the world and finding wisdom, they are my teachers and main friends.

7. Tell us about the spaces within which you live and work.
Nowadays I live countryside in the green and calm place not far from Moscow. My studio is located near house where I live so in early morning I’m used to walk or ride in a forest, collect specific for me stones, bones, moss or plastic staff, meditate and than work in silence. Often I put works to the car and go any direction, only trust my intuition, and walk with paintings through forests or ruins to full feel the energy of space, the man’s and nature’s territories.

8. Do you have a routine or rituals as you work?
I don’t push myself to create, don’t rush. I always prepare myself by everyday meditation and absorption of the new knowledge and thoughts to start express them in art. Day by day I await the right mental flow, watch extraordinary dreams, I feel that idea needs to ripen and one night I wake up in 5 am and I know I ready.

9. What is your favourite museum or art gallery and why?
Of course Tate Modern in London, Guggenheim Museum in NYC and Centre Pompidou in Paris are my favorite places where I could spend hours, days and immerse deep into my thoughts, dreams, sufferings and joys, where I feel the realization of mankind’s potential.

10. Your best advice to fellow artists?
Don’t be afraid of anything, don’t feel sorry for anything, and don’t be shy about your identity, your inner true identity. And I am sure that we need to learn all our lives constantly.

Instagram Nat Apanay: @natapanay
Website: apanay.art

Interview with Kristina Okan

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Interview with Kristina Okan

Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and your work
I am a visual artist, originally from Russia but currently live and work in Berlin.

I graduated from Moscow Stroganov Art Academy with major in Ceramic Art. After  studying for 6 years, I felt creatively lost, because Russian artistic high education is very separated from the real situation in the contemporary art world. So, I decided that the best idea would be for me to move abroad and to start the next chapter of life in a new place where I have never been before, thus I moved to Warsaw, and then – Berlin. Now I am a full time artist, exhibiting and working locally and internationally.

What set you off as an artist?
I never saw other options for me in life to be honest. All my life I practice and study art. Nothing excites me more than when I express myself as an artist. I guess, it is my nature. Even though I tried to run my own art space project, to be an art manager in the gallery and to be an art teacher – I always feel that I am out of my element and I waste my time when I do something different from artworks.

Tell us about the themes you pursue in your work
All my works derive from my fantasies about natural and organic beauty. I think that so much visual beauty and power is concentrated in simple, trivial objects such as apples, lemons, etc., that we get used not to notice, though they are always in front of us. Also, digging deeper into the topic of still lifes I was fascinated by how much meaning and symbolism fruits and vegetables carried in the past, in the Renaissance epoch, for example.

In my works, I often look for a balance between abstract forms and real natural objects. As I said before, I am highly attracted by pieces created by nature, and I play around with this existing beauty in my own way, creating my imaginary shapes – little biomorphic monuments. I also like the visual effect of repetitive forms and patterns, that is why all my works are made of repeated elements. For me is very important to leave a room for interpretation of my objects to the viewers, to give a chance to find their own meanings.

Is there something you couldn’t live without in your studio? what is your most essential tool?
My studio is where my table is. It is the basic and the most sacred object for me in my studio. Not sure it can be considered as a tool actually, but it is the most essential element for me for sure.

Tell us how you organize, plan, and prioritize your work
Working with porcelain implies a very high level of discipline and self organization. If there is a tiny bit of rush – everything goes wrong. That is why I always prepare myself mentally in advance for the new series of works and organize my schedule the way that nothing will disturb me and I will devote 100 % of my attention to work. It is like a retreat or meditation.

With watercolor works on paper is almost the same. Since all my graphic works are meticulously detailed, it takes also a lot of concentration. Sometimes, I am so much into work that after hours of drawing, I look at the work and think: oh, wow,  did I really do it myself? Because at some point, I have a feeling that the work guided my hand without my direct participation. I think these works are my favorite ones!

Professionally, what is your goal?
My goal is to reach a broader audience and to get more visibility on international art fairs and competitions. And to have my works in David Zwirner`s collection, of course.

Are there any upcoming exhibitions or projects in the works?
I was working for a quite long time on my solo exhibition  MY SECRET GARDEN, but unfortuntely it was postponed and then finally cancelled due to current situation. Now I am very glad to announce that this show is finally going to happen in Haze Gallery and I am mostly focuced on its preparation. Besides this, I am working on a number of applications for ceramic biennales and art awards.

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