Q. Welcome to u1 gallery. We are so grateful to be able to interview you. We can never thank you enough. Could you introduce yourself and your works? How did you begin creating art?
A. I'm an abstract artist living in the Netherlands. I have a Master of Arts in editorial and publishing. I'm also educated in commercial design, printmaking, and digital art. For some time I worked for printing houses and design studios as a digital graphic designer, a printmaker, a concept artist, and a DTP specialist. In 2018 I decided to become independent, and I got involved in my solo projects. I can say it was the best decision yet. I still work digitally, but only for my own pleasure, not for commission, because right now, traditional art is something in which I put a hundred percent of myself. I love to experiment and explore techniques and styles. Traditional painting gives me the fulfillment I always wanted.
Q. Could you talk about the process of creating and the way of expressing your work?
A. That depends on the technique I choose, but it's all about experimentation. My friends joke that I'm “the scientist among the artists.” Indeed, sometimes my studio looks like a science lab, and I tend to isolate myself while I'm working. I usually work at night in complete silence because silence is an empty canvas for my thoughts. It allows me to process my ideas away from stress and commotion, and protects me from sensory overload. The most important part of my paintings is texture. The more organic, cracked, and detailed a piece is, the better.
With my “Biomes” series, I watched the surfaces of planets other than Earth for hours. My passion for astronomy allowed me to do research about their chemical composition, structure, and geological features. This knowledge I implemented in my paintings, creating the heavy-textured “possible worlds” – the worlds that, probably, may be out there, light years away. As I prefer to paint on board rather than on canvas, it was easier to apply such a texture to a sturdy, stiff background without worrying about the damage. The texture always comes first, then I add a few layers of paint and mediums. The most exciting part, however, is waiting. A true patience exercise. Drying can last from 24 to 96 hours. It takes a lot of trust to leave the process to the board, surrendering my own control, and expecting random, often surprising results.
While working with monotype or mixed media on paper, I use printing plates, often not etched but with paint applied to the surface. I use water-based printing paints that react with water even when they are already on the surface. For such artworks, I use a variety of tools, from palette knives to sponges and nibs, and I combine acrylics with ink, rarely oil. This, again, produces a distinct, organic texture with great mid-tone contrast and detail.
Q. Could you describe one artwork or series from your oeuvre that you feel it was pivotal in your career?
A.There were two such moments. The first one was when I abandoned offset printing and screen printing and began with monotype. It was the most satisfying technique I ever used – classic, more manual, more intuitive, and, most importantly, personal. I decided to experiment with it, and when my first artwork from the “Variables” series was finished, I knew I was going in the right direction. One seldom has such moments of total revelation and peace of mind at the same time. And that was one of them.
The second one was when I became interested in mediums and heavy textures. For days, I was thinking about how to achieve a certain type of texture with the supplies I have. I tried many different products and combinations, from building materials like fillers, cement, putty, or gypsum to stonemason's by-products. It took me a while to devise a perfect formula because I didn't want to rely on ready-made artistic pastes available in art stores. I wanted it to be my own creation from start to finish. And finally, after a long time, I stood in front of the painting “U041119” and I thought, “This is it,” and it has only gotten better since.
Q. Are there any artists or work that have influenced you?
A. I adore the earthy color palette of Zdzisław Beksiński – dark, grim, and yet all colors are logically applied and create a cohesive piece. The other artist whose work encouraged me to explore texture was Anselm Kiefer. His works show his incredible courage in using materials and mediums taken from the environment. It brings his work closer to nature. There is also a sculptor, Magdalena Abakanowicz. Her tapestries and sculptures had the same influence on me as Kiefer's paintings. Richness of the texture, a mix of layers, roughness, an organic feeling, and at the same time – a perfect composition. I'm also very fond of large-scale, ornate installations by the phenomenal Chiharu Shiota that have had a profound impact on me and my sense of aesthetics. And last, but not least – Yayoi Kusama, with her meticulous, dedicated approach to pattern exploration and her personal experience that resonated with the events of my own life. Her example gave me the strength and courage to push forward.
Q. Where do you get the inspiration for your work?
A. Space. The universe as a whole is the most important inspiration. Other worlds, newly discovered exoplanets, stars, anything related to the cosmos. My passion for astronomy and astrophysics encourages and motivates me to take part in a variety of research projects and scientific surveys. Then such surveys inspired me to paint my own worlds. The "Biomes" series came to life because of my participation in the search for extrasolar planets, and the “Variables” series was created when I took part in the classification of the variable stars in our galaxy. You can see an echo of light curves in the survey graphs in each artwork.
Q. What do you hope that the audience takes away from your art?
A. I leave it completely to the audience. Watching art is a very subjective, personal experience. Through abstract art, I want to introduce people to possible worlds that have never existed before. They began to exist on boards or on canvases. The universe is more vast and more beautiful than we think. I try to bring this notion closer to the audience, make them take it all in. One may feel intimidated by the endless space of the universe, but isn't it amazing to be a part of something so complex and amazing? A tiny clipping of the universe seen this way may be found in my works. However, it's up to the viewers, what they would like to read in these creations. I give them full freedom to do so.
Q. What is your dream project? Could you tell us your plans and aspirations as an artist?
A. There are a few dream projects, some more realistic than others. Soon I intend to purchase a new, larger printing press because I have a new series in mind, or rather, the continuation of my texture experiments. But, like many other artists, I'd like to work on some large-scale projects, such as a large, heavily textured painting that would cover the entire gallery wall. It would feel overwhelming, even intimidating, and therefore I'd like to face the challenge.
In 2023, I plan to create more works (in a variety of mediums), participate in more competitions, design my art catalog, join the art society, and learn, learn, learn. There's never an end to learning, and I enjoy learning new things. In the more distant future I'd like to make a short film or series of short films in the similar convention to my paintings, nested in the nature of the universe.