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Interview with Female Artists from HAZEGALLERY

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Text: I r i n a  R u s i n o v i c h
All photos are provided by the authors of the HAZE Gallery

Interview with Female Artists from HAZEGALLERY

Interview with Marina WitteMann

What artwork/series of works do you find pivotal for your career? 

It was a series of colour fields made of paper that has become a turning point for my career as an artist. Prior to that, I analyzed every work of mine considering it to be a new step of development. Thus, my creative self evolved and infused with each of my artworks. However, even I was amazed by what happened at the very beginning of this series.

Ever since I can remember it, I have enjoyed a special relationship with colour. It’s called synesthesia: when sensations emanating from one sense organ are also manifested in another one, for example, seeing the pain in colour or feeling the shape of a cold. Therefore, my art revolved around this. Before, I didn’t understand why it happened. The desire to analyze, reproduce, compare the colour with form and material prompted me to do new experiments. 

I love oil paints for its texture and colour purity, but this has never been enough for me. I felt a need to go beyond the canvas, to feel the colour in the space. In sculpture, the shape interferes with the colour, that’s why I opted for it. The way I work now allows me to use paint and other materials as they are, leaving out the original colour and the history of these objects. That’s how I translate the emotions I experience daily through artistic materials.  

How has being a woman affected your career?

Surprisingly, I have always enjoyed being a woman, though perfectly realizing that women tend to think in a too complicated way and yield to emotions. All that prevents women from discarding the unnecessary and focusing on what is really important. I cultivated those qualities myself, so now I can control my emotions, while still enjoying my feminine essence. I seek to express the tenderness and softness of female nature in the floral and gentle shape of my art objects. The paper structure catches the eye and lets one penetrate the surface at the same time, just like the woman nature implies.

What makes a great artist?

It seems to me that an artist becomes great when their art begins to resonate in the souls and the minds of other people. It’s just the way it works in all spheres of life. A great artist is capable of creating a piece that is equally simple and complex. For example, imagine a work where a composition reveals through the material, while the material, in turn, establishes many associations the viewer might recognize. The colour grabs attention and starts a discussion; the texture excites and awakens a desire to touch the piece, to communicate with it physically… From the work, the viewer gains a longstanding experience and a sense of time. Therefore, a great artwork is inevitably modern, as it reveals the timeless conditions of being alive. 

Which other great women artists inspire you and why?

This list is endless. And by the way, I don’t divide artists into men and women. Primarily, I look at the object or the non-material result of work and only then, will I read the author’s story. I can still highlight a few of my favourite female artists and just women with a capital letter W. A great woman who inspires me is not just a woman who paints with oil or makes sculptures. For me, it’s a creative being full of willpower, authenticity, and capacity to communicate with people and life. 

Here I would like to mention Matrona Moskovskaya as one of my sources of inspiration. Saint Matrona was blind and lost the ability to walk early in life. With all the hardships, she was so strong in spirit that she kept working wonders for people. So those miracles for me are what artists should strive for in their artistic practice. In general, being an artist and a saint at the same time, like Andrei Rublev, for example, seems to me an especially fruitful combination (and history proves it). 

Another Russian artist who inspires me is the ballerina Maya Plisetskaya. Her energy, passion, hard work, strong character, elegance and progressive thinking are what I am guided by in my work. 

Choreographer Sharon Eyal is no less inspiring for me. When I first saw her Untitled black performance in Shanghai, it felt like a shock and an extravaganza. I was struck by the incredible naturalness of the movements the troupe did on stage. Music, costumes — everything looked as if it were taken from the future. It seems to me a real work of art should be just like that: progressive, challenging, highly material, and sensual.

In general, I tend to consider my contemporaries while searching for inspiration. For example, artist Phyllida Barlow is like a teacher to me now. If I have a question, I will certainly look for an answer in Barlow’s works. I love the simplicity of her materials and the way they’re interpreted. The completed work should be viewed not with the eyes, but with the soul. To be able to ‘read’ art objects that have been created on a sensory level, one needs to use their sixth sense. I feel a strong connection with Russian culture here: I guess we, Russians, often communicate this way. 

Last but not the least, I should mention artist Marina Abramovic. I will never stop learning from her. The way she communicates with the viewer and reaches catharsis, the mediums she uses in art, all that captivates my attention. For me, it’s about feelings, soul, experience, and in general the development of the sixth sense.

What advice would you give to emerging female artists entering the art world?

— Take yourself seriously and enjoy the process. If you don’t believe in yourself, then no one will, why should they? In art, you can lie, neither to yourself nor to the viewer; if someone senses a catch, the work won’t be recognized as a true art. At the same time, if you don’t experience pleasure from doing art, you will hardly be able to engage others with your ideas.

— Listen to yourself and constantly work, then everything falls into place.

— Always try new things. And reflect on it.

— Compare yourself with contemporaries and geniuses and draw conclusions: has your work differed; if so, for better or worse etc. 

— Continue to doubt, otherwise you may either remain ignorant or stop your search too early.

Interview with Elena Fuks (Lentov)

What artwork/series of works do you find pivotal for your career? 

I wouldn’t call it pivotal, however, my decision to enter the sphere of art was related to this particular piece. It was the first artwork I sold: a watercolor on an A5 sheet of paper portraying a little girl in the style of Yoshitomo Nara. One day, I was invited to participate in the big student fair of contemporary art at the British Higher School of Art and Design. Among the participants, I was the only non-student; full of hesitation, I was in the process of choosing my future career at the time. Nevertheless, I had all of my artworks sold by the end of the fair.

How has being a woman affected your career?

I find it really difficult to answer this question without having an experience of being a male artist. I can’t say for sure, but female art seems more emotional and sincere to me. 

What makes a great artist?

A great mind and an unquenchable inspiration.

Which other great women artists inspire you and why?

To be honest, I don’t have idols and normally I don’t pay attention to the gender of the artist either. I’m rather inspired by the art piece itself and the emotions it conveys. For me, the pure source of inspiration is hidden in daily life, in the stories and personalities of ordinary people… So you can be the first to transfer these feelings into the realm of art. 

What advice would you give to emerging female artists?

Be yourself, don’t dread the ‘journey’ with all its ups and downs, and always remember about your goals.

Interview with Kristina Okan 

What artwork/series of works do you find pivotal for your career? 

I would say it is my Allusions graphic series. What I did in the period of 2017—2018 defined my entire artistic practice so far. I feel like I have found my voice. Besides, I have realized that the process itself is just as important as the outcome in art. 

How has being a woman affected your career?

Luckily, my gender has never affected my career in neither way. I believe there should always be enough space for both male and female artists on the art scene.

What makes a great artist?

Honesty with yourself. Sensitive interaction with the world. Regular doubting and questioning what you do.

Which other great women artists inspire you and why?

Alicja Kwade is an absolutely mind-blowing artist for me. The way she works with materials such as stone and wood is great and simple and smart and impressive at the same time, it looks like pure magic! Giovanna Garzoni has become my recent discovery: her works are very inspiring because of their mesmerizing quality and a very sensitive admiration of nature they transmit. I also think here of Yayoi Kusama, her parallel universe where you just lose a sense of reality.

What advice would you give to emerging female artists?

Be in contact with your inner voice, never let it down. Always be the best version of yourself. 

Interview with artist Maria Volokhova

By /ART/, /INTERVIEW, /NEWS/

Photo: Natascha Wilms, Maria Volokhova
Text: Irina Rusinovich

Interview with artist Maria Volokhova

Where do you come from, where and when were you born?

I was born in 1980 in Kyiv / Ukraine.

Please tell us your artistic vita in a few sentences.

In Kyiv, I started my artistic education at the age of 6 and later attended the Shevchenko State Art High School. From 1997 to 2004 at the HKD Burg Giebichenstein, Halle/Saale painting/graphics graduated with a diploma.

Study visits in:
2000/02 Accademia die Belle Arti Bologna / Italy,
2003 – Ohio University, Athens/Ohio, USA
2005-2007 – Postgraduate studies at HKD „Burg Giebichenstein“, Department of Graphic Arts
2006 – 2009 Visiting student, Research Studies Ceramics, University Tokyo University of the Arts, Japan.

In 2009 the studio “ Volokhova Porcelain“ was founded in Berlin. In addition to working in the Berlin studio, I have interned in various porcelain manufactories in Germany and implemented my works in collaboration with the manufactories. My projects are exhibited worldwide at   M.V museums , exhibitions, fairs, and biennials (Faenza, Gyeonggi, Bornholm, Jakarta) and received several awards (NASPA Award, Keramikpreis Diesen, BKV Award, Ready Set Award).

How would you describe your creative process?

The ideas for the projects usually arise intuitively. In the work I delve into the thought to another level, so to speak, to another „planet“ of the current theme.
The work on the projects has an experimental character. How far can I explore the limits of the material?
My work with porcelain requires long preparation in designing the models. In the course of the process, further developments of the project emerge. Failures are part of everyday life and often lead to unexpected and exciting solutions.

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

My study at the Accademia di Belle Arti, Bologna in 2000/2001. There I came across the Museum of Anatomy with historical exhibits. Since then I have been busy interpreting and expanding projects about the inner worlds of the human being.

The desire to aesthetically realize this somewhat unpleasant subject led me to work with porcelain.

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

Life itself, enjoyment of life, experimenting and constant development.
Also in my artistic practice, I am always researching about man as a being, our connections with the social environment as well as the new possibilities in the implementation.
My credo is: to remain free in my thoughts and ideas and to keep the possibility to pursue my goals.

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

Moments of doubts come across an artist mind  again and again. These moments eventually lead to inner strengthening. At some point, I understood that my activity as an artist is my true vocation, and I cannot imagine my life without my research work in the workshop.

What is your favorite museum or art gallery and why?

me Collectors Room, Berlin

A contemporary art chamber with exciting artifacts. There I always find historical overlaps with my artistic research and new inspirations. Exciting temporary exhibitions.

What’s next for you?

At the moment I am working on the development of the project in connection with the current war situation in Ukraine that will be shown in the context of the Porcelain Biennale in Meissen in the summer.

I was very moved emotionally by the Maidan Revolution in 2014. At that time I realized what a strong meaning the country of Ukraine has for me, although I have been living abroad since 1995. The current attack on Ukraine shook the whole world.

For me Ukraine is a country with people who have warmth in them, always going about their daily lives with smiles and humor. The hearts of these people are destroyed, they mourn for their loved ones, for their destroyed cities, and continue to fight for their existence as a people and their independence.

Interview with artist Vera Kochubey

By /ART/, /INTERVIEW, /NEWS/

Text
I r i n a  R u s i n o v i c h

Interview with artist Vera Kochubey

Where do you come from, where and when were you born?

I was born in 1986 in Moscow, USSR. It’s the year of Chernobyl and 5 years before the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Please tell us your artistic vita in a few sentences.

I was born an artist and already at 2 years old I got first lessons of painting from my grandfather who was an amazing artist himself. I spent all my childhood around him in his home atelier in Moscow. I went to art school in Moscow but dropped out and came to Berlin in 2011 to establish myself as an Artist. Since then I have more then 200 collectors under my belt worldwide as well as dozens of international art shows.

How would you define Contemporary Art in 140 characters or less?

Contemporary art is badass, provocative, bold and imaginative, I like that there is no borders at all. So it’s fair to say, Contemporary Art is something close to Chaos Magic.

Was there a pivotal moment when you decided to follow your passion?

I had artistic soul from the very beginning, but I felt shame for this and was taught that you need to “sacrifice your life for higher proposes of common wealth of communism” – from my grandparents. In Soviet Union there was no such a profession as an “artist” so it was never taken seriously. In 2014 in berlin I met a man who was a successful writer coming from working class family and meeting him put a sparkle in me to peruse my artist career seriously . Then he took me to Berghain and my wild spirit was unleashed.

How can you describe your art practice ?

I think my art is an expression of my multiple personalities. One wants to escape all the struggle into the happy colorful bubble, one wants to shout out from every corner the painful universal truth, the other one is empersonating an ambiguous androgynous figure that is trying to figure out this life and is questioning his body/spirit existence.

Has social media had a positive impact on your work?

I started to take Instagram seriously in 2015 and I build my audience and followers since then. My main business platform is there too, so I believe that social media plays a big role these days for emerging artists.

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

I feel I am very independent from Berlin Art scene to the point where I could call myself the most famous Berlin art scene outsider.

What’s next for you?

A show in Berlin Urban Nation Museum, solo show at HAZE gallery, art residency at BIKINI BERLIN and autobiographical book on the way + baby steps into NFT art market.

What is it like to be a woman in art today? Q&A with an artist, a curator, and an art dealer: Russian perspective

By /ART/, /INTERVIEW, /NEWS/

Text: Julia Kryshevich
All photos provided by the Q&A participants 

What is it like to be a woman in art today? Q&A with an artist, a curator, and an art dealer: Russian perspective

To reflect on this pertinent issue, I invited three young (given that young age is a rather vast thing), promising (in my humble but confident opinion) women from the Russian contemporary art world to share their views. Meet Anastasia Omelchenko, an art dealer and founder of the Moscow-based Omelchenko Gallery, Lizaveta Matveeva, a St. Petersburg curator active both on the local and international scene, and Alexandra Weld Queen, an artist who, yes, welds to shape her creative vision.

Photo: Inna Rabotyagina

A n a s t a s i a   O m e l c h e n k o

(b. 1991, lives and works in Moscow) 

Cofounder and director of Omelchenko Gallery* (Moscow), artist

Patience, obstinacy, and effort define a woman working in art today

It’s no secret that the Russian art scene runs on women’s endeavors. Look at Olga Sviblova, the Multimedia Art Museum director, Aidan Salakhova, one of the most famous female Russian artists plus a founder of the prominent Aidan Gallery1, Teresa Iarocci Mavica, cofounder of the V-A-C Foundation Moscow2, Margarita Pushkina, founder and director of Cosmoscow International Art Fair3, the list goes on and on. 

Photo: Inna Rabotyagina

I would say it’s patience, obstinacy, and effort that define a woman working in art today. At the same time, she might be easy, elegant, and empathetic. Through combining leadership and sensitivity, women hold prestigious positions in the art world like art historians, art critics, museum directors, and gallery owners. The same goes for me: I have to balance between my art dealer, curator, and artist roles, which often go in different directions. 

There have always been hard-working women in art. Over the centuries, women have been painting and they have been watched! However, their achievements in the artistic field weren’t really recognized before. Fortunately, today it’s different: female artists and arts administrators have been given a voice and an opportunity to share their visions on society and culture. In art (and thanks to it) we can prove ourselves comprehensively both as creators and managers and show all our talent. 

L i z a v e t a    M a t v e e v a 

(b. 1991, lives and works in St. Petersburg) 

Independent curator* and project manager 

‘Curare’ means ‘to take care’. However, care doesn’t have a gender

That’s an interesting topic to think about from the Russian perspective. From my experience, I would say that local art scene seems to be gender neutral, meaning you can see women and men on all levels of administration: you can see female, male or queer artists and curators, etc. However, in your daily working routine, you face all kinds of stereotypes; some of them you don’t pay attention to, some might be traumatic, some you don’t even identify as stereotypes or an encroachment on personal space.

I don’t think there is any fundamental difference between being a female or male curator. At least I don’t feel or see this difference, as I truly believe it’s important, first of all, to remain a human being in any sphere. Attempts to find those differences bring us back to stereotyping. Of course, we’re different, as every human being is. But also we’re quite similar in many senses.

If we think of the etymology of the word ‘curator’, it comes from the Latin ‘curare’, which means ‘to take care’. I can imagine that in patriarchal thinking taking care is primarily considered as a female gesture. However, care doesn’t have a gender. Fathers can be as caring as mothers.

A l e x a n d r a   W e l d   Q u e e n 

(b. 1985, lives and works in Moscow) 

Artist, sculptor, and performer* 

Today it’s only fighting oneself that matters

What is it like to be a woman in art for me? It means doing anything I want without restraint. In my practice, I work with metal and weld a lot, which traditionally is seen as a ‘man’s job’, but it never really bothered me. Because I don’t really care what everyone will think, I just do what I like and bring my ideas to life. 

In my opinion, today there is no point in fighting for one’s place in art, proving or arguing something. I’m grateful to all the progress feminists have made by now. However, I’m sure that today it’s only fighting oneself that matters. I find it important that I can do whatever I want in a world where everything is possible. That’s why I rather focus on personal comfort, freedom, energy, and liberation from internal constraints that disturb living happily. I seek to reveal answers to all those questions through my artworks, sculptures, and performances. 

* A certified specialist in welding technology, Alexandra Weld Queen both designs and makes her objects by hand. In Moscow, where the artist currently resides she’s known for her impressive public art projects created for city parks and gardens. Weld Queen is also a keen performer. Since 2019, she and her team have taken part in Burning Man. Discover works by Alexandra Weld Queen: weldqueen.com/

Interview with Yang Ge

By /FASHION/, /INTERVIEW

Text – Irina Rusinovich @irinarusinovich
Creative director and Fashion stylist – Miguel Maldonado @miguelmaldonadostylist www.miguelmaldonado.net

Model: Yang Ge @yangge_
Photographer – Dusia Sobol @dusiasobol https://dusiasobol.com
Make-up and hairstyling – Nadia Kosh @nadiakosh www.nadiakosh.com

Interview with Yang Ge

Yang Ge was born on September 7, 1988 in Beijing, China. At the age of 20, she came to Moscow for the first time; 10 years later, she became probably the best-known Chinese actress, singer, and director in Russia. In 2014, she graduated from the Russian State University of Cinematography (also known as VGIK), Sergei Solovyev Workshop, with a Drama Degree in hand.
Since 2011, Yang Ge has starred in a number of successful Russian TV shows and films, including but not limited to ‘Flight Crew’, ‘Matilda’, ‘The Conquest of Siberia’.

Since 2013, she has been a part of the Gogol Center theater, founded by the famous Russian stage and film director Kirill Serebrennikov. For personal reasons and just for work, Yang Ge is a frequent visitor to Berlin: e.g. the actress is involved in ‘Decameron’, a play jointly produced by the Deutsches Theater and the Moscow-based Gogol Center.

I took the chance to meet the actress in person and asked her a few questions, primarily about her background and her understanding of what is key to success. 

Where are you from? How does your place of origin affect your work?

Originally, I came from Beijing, China. However, I have been living in Russia since I moved there at twenty. My Chinese origin has both affected me and my work, all thanks to the rich culture of China and its traditions. Whenever I travel around the globe, I feel very special because I can always perform or do something like nobody else can. For instance, there are tiny movements in traditional Chinese dance that I usually include in my part in contemporary dance. In addition, a very typical feature of the Chinese people, which is hard work, fits me as well. All the success I have achieved so far in my career I owe to my 24/7 performance.

When did you realize you wanted to become an actress?

It was a very funny story. When I turned 20, I came to Russia for the first time, to a small town near Tula. Initially, I meant to study languages, become a translator, and work for the Chinese government. So I was moving toward that during my first year of studies. That year, I met many people from different countries who asked me if I wanted to be a translator, if it was my dream…
After I got confronted with the same question over and over again, I felt a need to ask myself who I actually wanted to be. It’s a tough question for a twenty-year-old girl without any life experience whatsoever, isn’t it?
I wrote down everything that crossed my mind at that point, then removed the most unrealistic options — it was just the word actress that stayed! Here I would like to mention a quote: ‘Never give up on something you really want. It’s difficult to wait, but more difficult to regret’.
Since that date, I have never looked back. I graduated from the Russian State University of Cinematography (VGIK, for short), with a degree in Drama eight years ago.

What message would you like to pass on to your fans?

The first and foremost message to my fans would be: before you make any decision, try asking yourself whether you will regret not doing it or not. If you think you will regret it, then just do it!
The second message I would like to get across is what my mom always told me: before you embark on something great, learn to be a decent human being first.
And the third message is to have no fear. You don’t need to listen to the opinions of others because they will never care about you as much as you do. 

What techniques do you use to create a believable character on stage?

I always strive to base my stage characters on real-life people who I observe and examine a lot. It’s interesting to see how someone’s posture or gesture shows their emotional state. You know, being an actor, you really need to communicate with people and learn from them. 

What do you like most about acting?

Every time I get a part, I learn something new! As an actor, you can live a few different lives in a row, playing a teenager or an old lady, for instance.

What is your source of inspiration?

It’s food. When I eat, I’m always in a good mood; thus, I gain power and energy to do things. That’s a very simple philosophy. 

Please describe your creative process from start to finish. How do you stay motivated, for example, while blogging on Instagram? 

You should really love what you do; otherwise, it won’t make sense. All that will be just counterproductive. 

How do you deal with viewers who dislike your content?

I don’t care about their opinion because I don’t make my videos for them. Again, it’s about being decent, about respecting others and being respected in return. 

Which of your video blogs has the highest viewership, and why do you think it’s so? 

I guess it’s Osa & Osel on TikTok, because it’s funny! Humor is what unites people. Age, race, the industry you work in don’t matter as much, but it’s having a good laugh that really matters! 

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

In Hollywood! I am working towards this goal right now. And I promise I will take all my chances and I will do my best!
As for my family, I wish them to stay healthy and happy. Dear Purplehaze readers, please have no regrets and stay healthy and happy too!  

Designers: Giuseppe Tella @giuseppetelladesign www.giuseppetella.com Anastasia Bogonos @anastasiabogonos www.anastasiabogonos.com Victoria Geiser @victoria.geiser www.victoria-geiser.com Laura Gerte @laura_gerte https://lauragerte.com DAMUR @damurfashion https://damur.fashion

Interview with photographer Shamil Khairtdinov

By /ART/, /INTERVIEW

Text:
I r i n a  R u s i n o v i c h

Interview with photographer Shamil Khairtdinov

Shamil Khairtdinov was born in Podolsk, Russia, but now lives and works in Moscow. He has been involved in photography since 2014, however, he never studied it. Qualified as a specialist in the oil and gas industry, Shamil graduated from the faculties ‘Creative Video’ and ‘Directing’ at the Wordshop Academy of Communications in 2015. 

The blooming talent of the photographer was soon recognized: his accomplishments were awarded by many professional institutions such as Hamdan International Photography Award (Dubai) where Shamil reached the final in 2016 and Trierenberg Super Circuit contest for photographic art (Austria). Shamil Khairtdinov also participated in various exhibitions for young artists and photographers, including those held in the museums for modern art in Moscow and Austria. He had several personal exhibitions: e.g. at Winzavod Center for Contemporary Art (Moscow). 

I wanted to become better acquainted with Shamil, so I asked him some questions about his approach and artistic path.  

How would you describe your style and your approach to photography? 

I always follow the feelings: the instincts are in the first place for me. You know, sometimes thinking gets in the way. While shooting, I try not to think at all, just taking pictures of the interesting things that wander into my sight. At that moment, all prejudices are turned off, they simply die. Following the feeling, following the instinct: you open up to the outside world, to what is in front of you at that very moment, and start noticing beautiful things. 

In fact, it’s similar to the behavior of a cat. I observed the behavior of my cat for a long time and realized that if something catches her attention, she goes there immediately, without hesitation. So we can compare it to the state of instinct in photography: you move where your eyes lead you without any doubt. Next is the selection of photos. This process resembles a counselling session. It’s important to analyze all images, while making choices, asking some questions like: ‘Why did I choose this stone or this pavement or this person? What attracted me to this? Why am I interested in this at all? Does it maybe have something to do with my past?’. 

As for people, I try to connect with them. The main thing is to read the person’s mind and state in the process of photo shooting. 

Did you always know you wanted to be a photographer? 

No, it happened by accident. Before filming, I worked in advertising. I ran my own little commercial agency. One day I decided to study strategy at the Wordshop Academy of Communications, so I entered the faculty of Creative video and later the faculty of Directing. At the faculties, there were some photography tasks. It all started there. I was just wrapped up. I began taking photos of virtually everything: I took around 1,500 pictures every day and 2 months later, I won a photo competition at the Moscow Museum of Modern Art. On March 6, 2014, I quit advertising and decided to dive completely into photo and video shooting. It was like falling in love with a woman at first sight. True unconditional love… That’s how it was here: I knew for sure that I wanted it. In addition to photography, I also work as a cameraman and director.

The topic for the current Purplehaze print issue is WOMEN. What do you think of when hearing this word?

Women are the love. In fact, Al Pacino’s monologue from the film The Scent of a Woman immediately came to my mind! I completely agree with it! ☺

Do you have a different approach to women in your work? 

The main thing is to love. That’s my only approach! ☺

Please tell us about your creative process. Do you tend to follow the same process in each project? 

No, I’m constantly exploring new approaches and applying some of them in my work. However, the approach of instincts that I described at the beginning, I always use it because it allows me to see and feel what’s happening in front of the eyes from a new perspective.

What are the fundamental messages you want to get across with your work? 

Talking about reportage and street photography, I seek to transmit what I feel for the place where I am. I try to show everything with no assessment.

But as for the project series or movies that are in the process of being created, then it’s more interesting for me to show the strength of a person’s spirit, demonstrate what a person is capable of. I love to highlight the stories of the people, who even while finding themselves in the most terrible conditions, retain a piece of soul. Whatever happens, some hope should always stay there. In my opinion, art should encourage people to create and inspire others after all.

What’s the latest project you are working on? 

I’m currently working on a short film, the story of which is based on real events from the distant 2000s. The script and all other things are ready for the project. The budget just leaves to be found! 

Lia’s profile. Where does art meet everyday life or how to distinguish it?

By /ART/, /INTERVIEW

Text: P a u l i n a  B r e l i ń s ka – G a r s z t ka
Edited the text: J u l i a  K r y s h e v i c h
Photo: f r o m  a r t i s t‘ s  a r c h i v e s

Lia’s profile. Where does art meet everyday life or how to distinguish it?

‚I spend a lot of time in my studio: that is the reason for my paintings being photographed and displayed on social media in that particular place. For the past two years, I have been working and thinking about the form of presentation for my works right here. I managed to create a new language of communication with the viewer, which is less literal and figurative. 

Now the paintings show more feelings and emotions than they did a few years ago. Perhaps it’s the specific time of the pandemic, social isolation and omnipresent socio-political conflicts that have strongly affected my way of painting’ – says artist Lia Kimura. One can trace how Kimura’s working style has evolved in her latest cycle of paintings (to be displayed at the artist’s solo exhibition Unpresent at Wallspace Gallery Warsaw, starting from February 2022).

Upon entering Lia’s studio, located on Bracka Street in the very center of Warsaw, one is immediately confronted with lots of abstract paintings. Although the viewer can primarily see human figures in the canvases, it’s not the carnality that is most important in Lia’s works. Applying successive layers of paint serves as an act of symbolic obliteration of memories, fears, experience, and the past. The works are like portals in which invisible fragments of life are hidden. One painting captures a longing for loved ones, another says about the fear of how fast reality changes, while the third one focuses on a specific memory. 

The colors are also worth noting. From pastels and body-like shades to pure and expressive colors — reds, pinks, blues — applied onto the canvas by the artist’s hand; there is even some space for black shades that are gradient and blurred like memories. Moving around the artist’s studio, one can see that her everyday life is exactly such a palette of colors. On a high black tenement wall, the latest pictures look as though they had been hanging there forever.

Lia Kimura, Absence of sound, oil paints on canvas, 2021

Lia Kimura, Touch, 160×120, oil on canvas, 2020

Lia Kimura, Traces, oil on canvas, 100×80, 2020

It is interesting how complementary the space and canvases can be. The aura of the studio is peaceful, somehow soothing, and quiet, though the very hallways and the two rooms with large windows are filled with the untold stories of a hardworking artist, a sensitive woman, a curious human being. Lia describes herself as a thinker whose head is often filled with reflection about existence: she likes to philosophize and explore human nature. This makes the space she works in every day even more refined for contemplating the world. 

The statement about the autotherapeutic dimension of Lia’s artistic work is intriguing. As the introductory text to the Unpresent exhibition suggests: ‚The only psychological, personal, and aesthetic profile that we can read from the paintings is that of the artist‘. It is about building a relationship between Lia, the artist, and her as a human being who faces everyday life. Only when art pieces are brought to public space, i.e. art galleries, the experience of exposing the works takes place. 

Thanks to the titanic work done, both artistically and internally, Lia’s canvases look intriguing and inviting to contemplate. The market success they have achieved seems to prove their validity as independent objects — pieces of art. The works have been appreciated by collectors from Germany, Japan and the USA, as well as by major art critics. Later this year, they will be showcased at one of the most important festivals in Japan — Osaka Kansai International Art Festival 2022. Last year, Kimura’s canvases were exhibited in two London venues — the Fitzrovia Gallery and the Saatchi Gallery. Nonetheless, Lia’s studio where it all began is still remembered as a perfect place where art and everyday life coincide.  

Self Trap, 100×80, 2021

Self Trap, 100×80, 20212

Self Trap, 100×80, 202123

Bio

Lia Kimura is a Japan-born Polish painter. Kimura’s work is mostly connected with her place of birth, search for identity and intensive feelings: the experience of death, alienation, and hope. Her paintings represent both the traditional form of expression and the experimental approach, where figurative forms are matched with abstract matter. 

The artist currently lives and works in Warsaw, where she started her career in 2016.

Her paintings belong to almost 40 private collections (Germany, England, Japan, Switzerland, Poland) and were displayed  at such group exhibitions as Color of life held in the Fitzrovia Gallery and Saatchi Gallery (London) in 2021 and a pre-auction exhibition in Polswissart Showroom in Warsaw (7 December 2021). They will also be shown at the Osaka Kansai International Art Festival (Kenba Excel Building, 28 January—13 February 2022).

More about Lia Kimura’s art: liakimura.com/ 

Interview with artist Lasha Chrelashvili

By /ART/, /INTERVIEW

Text and Photo: Irina Rusinovich

Interview with artist Lasha Chrelashvili

Where do you come from, where and when were you born?

I am from Tbilisi, Georgia
12.08.1990

Please tell us about your artistic vita in a few sentences.

I think my artistic vita begins in my dad’s art studio on the top of a soviet apartment building, the
place from which, till this day, I derive knowledge, emotions and questions with which I play with answers. In 2016-2021 I studied at Muthesius Kunsthochschule in Kiel. During which I participated in multiple shows. I can’t brag about the amount of gallery shows I’ve been in, since I’ve always been experimenting with different materials and styles. But I’m sure a lot will change in that direction this year.

How would you describe your creative process?

It is very chaotic, spontaneous and impulsive. I work on multiple different scale paintings at the same time. I believe these dynamics are shown in the paintings as well, I’m just not sure if it’s good or bad, but I look closely inwards during my creative process and I believe this is the most important aspect.

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

I think a big part of the process and the style stems from childhood insecurities and difficulties. What had the most influence was a confession, a very important confession that we don’t really know the place and environment we’re in and we need to study it, despite the fact that by itself everything looks familiar. This feeling of being lost was very interesting for me and acted as a starting point of this thinking, of the new style and process in my art.

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

Personally for me art is the reality, the chemistry of you looking or listening and knowing that it’s true, sincere and special. You have no idea why or how but you do know that it’s there.

Probably these are the hormones of reality with which people connect with each other outside of consciousness.

What is your favorite museum or art gallery and why?

Museums aren’t my favorite, they’re way too official. I prefer galleries and experimental spaces, since they’re a lot more candid and real. A lot of people criticize openings, saying that people go there just to talk and drink, but if that’s the case, then it’s good. Isn’t one of the qualities of art to build these sorts of bridges between people?

What’s your definition of beauty?

I try to find beauty in the everyday details. For example, I see a lot of it in a passionate person.

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

Hard to say. The space is wide open and there are many directions. Despite technological progress and AI, human made art will have a significant value throughout the foreseeable future. Now is one of the most interesting times in the art world. We have an absolute craziness ahead.

What’s next for you?

I’m very motivated because I feel like I’m making my first serious steps towards my career.
A lot of new emotions, still unknown, await me. I’m excited for my solo show in Haze Gallery and I’m very happy that we work together. Thank you for the trust.

Interview with photographer Marco Sanges

By /ART/, /INTERVIEW

Text: Irina Rusinovich
Photo: Courtesy of photographer Marco Sanges

Interview with photographer Marco Sanges

At an early age, Sanges started to work at his uncle’s photographic lab and became fascinated by the crafts and the process of developing and making black-and-white pictures. Sanges prefers analogue photography, as he’s nostalgic for the early 20th century, when life was slower-paced and even feelings seemed to last longer.

Greatly attracted to cinema and the luminous, black-and-white films of the silent-era, in particular, Sanges creates photographs in sequence. Every sequence tells a unique, multi-layered story, contributing to a highly personal, imaginary cinema. The projects staged as live theatrical performances are permeated with magnifying imagination. 

The surrealistic impression of Sanges’ work represents the liberation of the unconscious. The artist aims at creating art outside the boundaries of official culture: he seeks to reject the established values and elaborate some fantasy worlds through illustrating extreme mental states and ideas.

There is also an enchanting, yet dark side of the artist’s work: an intriguing depth that appears to highlight the drama of life and capture the sincerity of the journey. Sanges’ works make the spectator embark on an emotional voyage and lose themselves in the narrative and the power of storytelling.

His exhibitions bring together the works of an artist who is passionate about life in its entirety and continues to evoke, transcend, and excite the world! Although fascinated by digital arts, Sanges strongly believes in the immortality of film and the real essence of photography. He works with a 6×7 camera and always expects the pictures to be perfect at the first raw.

How would you describe your style and your approach to photography?

I would describe my style as cinematographic and complex. I create projects and photographs in sequence, where each story is slowly revealed to the viewer. I use photography as a medium to explore the unconscious and fantasy realms. I like to work using a variety of concepts and techniques, experimenting and bringing creativity in my compositions, designing my own imaginary world, like I were daydreaming, you know.  

The topic for the current Purplehaze print issue is WOMEN. What do you think of when hearing this word? 

Mystery, style, sex appeal, intuition, sophistication. and red lipstick.

Do you have a different approach to women in your work?

I enjoy finding strong and eccentric personalities who become the main characters of my narratives. It’s a desire of mine to tell a story through still images, while also implementing an element of cinema. It’s like a natural progression that remains strongly present. You can clearly see it in my ‚Circumstances‘ series in which I predominantly shot women. 

Please tell us about your creative process. Do you tend to follow the same process in each project?

My creative process is constantly evolving. It does change depending on the project, the subject, and the message I want to convey. The only thing that doesn’t change is my devotion with analogue shooting, i.e. developing/processing films in the darkroom. I’m attached to the old craft of photography, thus, it’s very important for me to carry it on in my practice.

What message do you want to get across with your photography?

I would say the most important thing is the storytelling power of my photographs. For me, each image is a way to address the imagination of viewers, make them experience their own version of the story. Capturing a moment with tension, inspiration, and emotion is the main goal of all my practice.

How has your practice evolved since starting out?

Photography is a vast craft and my practice has evolved a lot since starting out. Working on different projects has allowed me to discover some sides of me that I previously had no idea about. It also enabled me to push boundaries and dare to try out different ways of photographing.

Please tell us about your new COVID series.

The idea of creating COVID series came to me at the beginning of March last year as we got stuck at home. I sought to document the unique period we all were going through and represent it in an authentic and artistic manner. The first part of the project was shot at home: it was just a mixture of daily objects and everyday scenes. Those were the things that became very close to us, meanwhile the external world suddenly became unknown. I guess there was even something comforting in knowing those objects were at our side day after day.

In the second part of the project, I went out following my own shadow and capturing what had remained in the city. That’s how a series of portraits and street scenes arrived. My goal was to express the feelings we all shared during those strange times like a feeling of being imprisoned in a ghost town with the medium of photography. The spontaneous approach I took allowed me to capture genuine emotions and make striking images.

What’s the latest project you are working on?

Currently I’m working on a new project where lights, science, and astronomy are the main subjects. Photographing science and medical objects from the earlier centuries and bringing back the old crafts of astronomy is the goal of the project. The role of light and geometric shapes is very important; it brings a different dimension and definition to each image.

Interview with designer Sasha Gapanovich

By /FASHION/, /INTERVIEW

Text
I r i n a  R u s i n o v i c h
Photos courtesy of the designer

Interview with designer Sasha Gapanovich

Why did you decide to choose fashion designing as a career?

I have been involved in creative work since I was a child. My mother is a sewing technologist; in my early years, I spent a lot of time at the sewing factory where she worked. Thus, my choice of profession was very natural and harmonious for me. Immediately after school, I went to master my sewing skills. It was a design competition that awakened my creative ambitions: I came up with an idea of  making my own collection, and I eventually made one in 2003.

Would you tell us something about your background?

Yes, please. Here is my CV: 

School №13, the seamstress of the top lady’s wear, (1997—2000), Murmansk;

Moscow State Pedagogical University, Technology and Design faculty (2001—2006), Murmansk;
Namodnenie, special diploma for the Everyday Chic collection (2003), Murmansk;
Grantee, business incubator of the Murmansk region (2009);
Grantee, KPD 2010 city competition (2010), Murmansk;
Nordic Look international project participant (2011), Finland—Iceland;
Grantee, KPD 2012 city competition (2012), Best Production Project category, Murmansk;
Advanced training, Art & Design course, Central St. Martins College (2012), London;
Training, Metrics online academy of branding and design (2020), Moscow; 

And some of my best performances:

Barents Fashion Week (2008), Russia—Norway;
Fashion show (May 8—11, 2009), Norway;
La Belle Hollywood fashion show (2011), Oslo, Norway;

Beauty of the Polar Region regional contest, designer (2011, 2012), Murmansk;
Jury Member, Namodnenie, the regional festival of young designers (2011—2021), Murmansk;
Sicily Fashion Project (2015), Sicily;
Lexus Fashion Day (2017), Murmansk;
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia, season 42 (2021), Moscow;
Lamoda fashion reality show (2021), Moscow;
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia, season 43 (2021), Moscow;

Collaborative project between the Ethnographic Museum of St. Petersburg and the platform for young Russian brands Front (2021), Moscow—St. Petersburg; 

More than 100 publications in various international and Russian magazines, including but not limited to: Vogue Russia, Vogue Italia, L’Officiel Australia, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle Russia, Forbes, Cosmopolitan, L’Officiel Russia, Grazia, Glamour, BURO, The Blueprint, Beinopen, Purplehaze

Is it difficult to be a fashion designer in Russia?

It is, especially, in the regions. There is virtually no financial support for talented young people: for all the time I have been working as an artist, the situation remains unchanged…

You design wonderful things. I wonder who or what is your source of inspiration for work?

Speaking about the last collection, the main source of inspiration for it was my native land: the nature of the far north, its colors and textures, the general mood of the places I was born and raised in. 

It is also interesting how you combine femininity and volume. What is the story behind it? 

It’s hard for me to say what kind of story is behind this mix of large shapes and vibrant femininity. Yet indeed, in my early years, I would always gravitate towards the large shapes breaking into space and the flowing feminine silhouettes.

What is your favorite part of being a fashion designer?

My favorite parts are creative research, conceptualization, the sketching stage, and the demonstration of the collection itself, where you can see the overall result of your work.

Please define fashion.

Fashion is something very fast, bright, and cutting-edge, conveying the sentiments of society — and going one step ahead. 

How do you stay up to date regarding fashion?

I analyze trends. Information comes from everywhere, even if you’re not specifically looking for it.

What do you think about work ethics? What kind of ethics do you think one should follow while working in fashion?

In my opinion, we shouldn’t only speak about fashion,  but also other areas of humanity.

How would you describe your personal style?

My lifestyle is rather ordinary: I am a working mum of four daughters living in the far north. I would compare my everyday life with something comfortable, cosy, big, warm, layered, and agender, but necessarily with a pair of interesting and accentual shoes (shoes are a particular passion of mine). 

If it is an event, it should be restrained, either of an interesting cut or a laconic silhouette, with print accents and a combination of fabrics. 

Where do you see yourself in the next ten years?

I’m still a mother and a friend to my daughters, a designer of a brand with a mature, worldwide recognized name, not just a start-up. I enjoy a loyal following and have a boutique in Paris (which is my big dream actually). Time will tell 😉