What brought you to painting?
It’s a difficult question. It just happened, well, perhaps it’s more of a question for the psychoanalysts. But before I decided to go into painting, there were challenges. To my mind, most artists come into this world because they are not really similar other people. They are not “normal”, they other from the begin. I will say that is that my intention was not to be an artists, I didn’t want to be an artist I had no desire to be an artist. But what I remember very clearly from my thoughts in my diaries—I still have some of my childhood diaries— I see that I was really feeling a dramatic tragedy of my existence. I would look around at people at school, at my parents, and at my friends, and I didn’t see freedom in this life (it was during the Soviet Union). And I thought to myself I am so young, and I have to live such a long life in this condition, and this was one of the big struggles of my childhood. I was looking for answers and stability. How can I live my life in a way that would be free? And I still think about this. But art is something that gives me the chance. Now that I am older, I think that objectively we cannot be free. We have bodies, we have our lives and obligations to communicate with other people… and often we can’t be free in our professions. But the profession of the artist, it gave me the possibility to be much more free as a human. That’s why I choose to be an artist.
My first impressions at seeing your work was the feeling of an effusion and a free and joyful dialogue with matter, colors, and forms, as when a child plays.
I think most people when they are young, they want to be an adult, and many adults want to be young. As a child, when I would see adults who say that they would like to be a kid again, I think to myself, “how terrible it is to be a kid. You have no rights, you are not free and you are obliged to do this or that…” I was really always waiting to be an adult. Now that I’m grown, I don’t really miss my childhood at all. But my way of life is my art, and through that I try to maintain the view of a child. There is a big difference between wanting to be a child and maintaining the view of a child. My friend and fellow artist Myroslav Yahoda , who lives and works in L’viv, said that when he looks at my art he says that this is the imagination of a child, which is bigger than the experience of adulthood. I think that it’s something that I choose in my creations. I want to have my eyes open, and I think that this is a very serious way for an artist to keep his soul open and free. It’s something like this, even if you go through a forest, and forests are not always very clean, they can be very dirty, its like a kind of magic. Art can give you a chance to see this magic, when you go into the deep and into the dirtiness, and then you come out and it is clear and beautiful… it’s like fairy tales.
How do you plan your work?
Oh, its difficult. You know, I try to plan to do something, and I’m very happy if I can do 20% of what I actually plan. Sometimes I come to work and want to do something with the paintings, but occasionally I direct my attention to the cartoons and I can spend hours and hours with the cartoons. I also try to hear what is happening around me and if I hear something telling me to do something different, I try to do that. But very important to have a “skeleton” plan, because you will never arrive to where you have without it. This “mane plan” is invisible but very real thing you must realize during your active life. So my days are simple. I come into the studio, I give food to my birds, and then I try to do something. And then the story starts. And then in the evening I go home and the story is finished! Time goes fast . My creation is a collaboration with time, because for me time and art are two things which complement one another. For me time and art is a product of illusion, because time does not exist, and at the same time art does not actually exist… they live only in our imagination. In my studio, I manipulate this relationship of time and art. In the studio I can do whatever I want.
What do you mean by telling: “art is a product of illusion…”
When I say illusion, I say that everything is created in our phantasy. For example, for my birds and for my dog here, art and time do not exist. But when artists create from this kind of illusion, it becomes something very material that can truly influence our lives in reality. I can compare this with mathematics. Numbers are abstract ideas, but without them we cannot live.
Yeah, and love is something that changes our life. People without love just die, it seems like they become empty and it’s a very fast road to catastrophe from there. And if you feel love and if your heart is full, it is really a chance to live a more interesting life than you would have without it.
A poet wrote this verse: « What do you know about beauty? … it is the form of love. » What do you know about beauty?
Beauty and love are something that is really connected. Because if you don’t have love in your heart and in your life you really can’t absorb and feel beauty, you just go away. You won’t feel beauty if you don’t have love in your life. If you come away from love and beauty, you can also go into the deep problems. We are made like this. Love and beauty, and the categories that are found underneath them give people a chance to really live. We represent this chance with our human bodies and our consciences. This gift of conscience gives us the gift of choice. We always have choice…
What do you think of the Catena Artistorum project?
Communication among artists is very important. You know, I say that artists are kind of “sick” people… and these people generally are of a high sensitivity. Our profession is to feel. Therefore, you feel maximum sensitivity.
For me it’s different to go with this compromise, but in case I feel ok, I’m fine, easy and open, and interaction is not selfish. For me its very important to have good connections which are creative. It has to bring something. It’s not only an exchange, we always exchange information, knowledge products, etc. but for me that exchange must also have a creative outcome. That is the kind of appreciated communication. Life is too short to have unfruitful relationships. And in the case that we have an organization that supports these fruitful relationships, it’s something I can really appreciate as an artist.
One last word ?
I know that I can’t plan anything, my life can be stopped any second. But I hope that this work that I’m doing now is not the last. I’m not ready for my last work, I need a little bit more time.