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Sergei Sviatchenko "The world of art is extremely diverse! Experiment more!"



Sergei Sviatchenko "The world of art is extremely diverse! Experiment more!"

What is the secret of the success of a modern artist? How to find yourself and your audience? What is the difference between Western education and Ukrainian one? Is it necessary to leave the comfort zone to develop? Urgent and provocative questions asked by the young artists and guests of the "Silver Easel" within the Sergei Sviatchenko's lecture "The Way to Denmark".

… Red socks and a bow tie, an open look and charming smile- these are the first impressions of a unique man, a Ukrainian who conquered the world of the European art. This is Sergei Sviatchenko, who came to Ukraine for the first time for almost three decades. Today he is a guest of Uzhhorod, who returned to his homeland at the invitation of the co-founders of the student contest "Silver Easel" Robert and Nataliya Brovdi. He is a special guest for many people, but for those who have already had time to shake his hand – a fantastic man with whom it is interesting to talk about art, books, and even about the golden leaves in the lighted autumn embankments of the Uzh River…

It is possible to write a lot about him thanks to his uniqueness and charisma. He achieved the impossible: in a strange and distant country he managed to prove the uniqueness of his creative world view. As a result, his work can be seen in the Danish Parliament, his film with the Japanese artist Noriko Okaku "Mirror To The Mirror" dedicated to Andrei Tarkovsky was awarded the first prize at the Lucca Film Festival in Italy, and his interest in fashion resulted in several awards of "the most stylish man of Denmark" – according to the readers' and editorial surveys of Euroman magazine.

Sergei Sviatchenko accepted the offer to talk with the participants and guests of the "Silver Easel". It is surely difficult to put in words the energy of this unique person, but his words are worth becoming a history and inspiring art lovers. Today, the questions that interested young artists during the meeting with the master and the answers to them are presented to our readers.

"Do you think that an artist should be poor? It is nonsense. The artist should have money and develop himself."

Sergei, there is an opinion that in order to develop, it is necessary to leave the comfort zone. What do you think?

No, it is not. You need to stay in the comfort zone and do the work that you want to do. Do you think that an artist should be poor? It is nonsense. The artist should have money and develop himself. But one should be able to work in any zone, not paying attention to where he is.

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Do you have taboos?

Yes, I do. Once I made a porn series, which was, incidentally, very interesting. These were collages made from clippings of pornographic magazines. And although the series turned out to be very elegant and skilful, we even made a film on this subject, but, nevertheless, the originals of the collages weren’t demonstrated. I am also far from politics and do not share things related to violence. If I were offered to do something bloody, I would also refuse. That is, there are things that are difficult for me.

Tell us about your experience of co-operation with the jewellery house Cartier? A woman, diamonds, facets – what did inspire you?

The jewellery house suggested me to create a series of collages and, working on the project, I, first of all, set myself the goal of conveying the elegance and classic design of Cartier jewellery. Fragments of the hands, lips, smooth hair, black dress colour – all these elements, combined compositionally with jewellery, created a memorable and provocative visual series that satisfied the Cartier. I was very pleased with this co-operation!

What proposals for co-operation you are not interested in?

For example, if you ordered a portrait, then I would reject - I do not know how to paint a classic portrait, I'm not a portraitist. It happens when everyone feels some of their weaknesses. And when I feel confident, I take the offer of co-operation with pleasure.

What do you dream about? What are your goals?

I always dream of new interesting projects and I enjoy it. For example, we communicated with the friends with whom I saw the beginning of Ukrainian contemporary art formation, and we had some new creative impulses, a desire to meet again with them and start new interesting projects together. Now we have completely different relations and, if there is an opportunity to work, we start working. It is important then to invite you, young people, to our exhibitions, projects, to get a dialogue, continuity between generations of artists - this is a very important relationship.

"Be yourself and never please anyone"

Sergei, how do you think, are the concepts of "order" and "art" compatible? Does the creative process interfere with the desire to impress someone pursuing the commercial purpose?

I think there is no need to please anyone! In no case you should try to impress someone, an artist should be yourself! You stay in your “shell” and work there, trying to create something new to be noticed. I’ve never created any portraits on order, because I consider it terrible, a catastrophe! I have only my works and I show them - take them if you are satisfied.

Tell us about the education in the West? What do you teach students? What should be included in our programmes, and what should not?

I worked with students from different universities in many countries, I conducted master classes, including on collage. I try to teach students to think differently – this is a major principle. In my opinion, the work on the project is, for example, joint photos, discussion, analysis. Dialogue. Students must be involved in the process. I think that there is no such involvement in Ukrainian schools.

Thus, I was very surprised – why is there no Russian avant-garde in the programme? No Lisitskyi or Malevich, or other outstanding masters of contemporary art, known in the West? They should be studied, they need to build a basic education! What do you know about surrealism? Salvador Dali, Rene Magritte - this should be studied, discussed, and this knowledge should be used in the future.

Tell me, please, what difficulties can face an artist in his work with Western galleries?

There are galleries of different levels, but you should know one thing – there is 100 percent commerce in the west! If the gallery is sure that it can sell your work, it will be nice to talk with you, but if not, the relationship moves to another level, which cannot but annoy. This is where the zone of discomfort begins and you need to pass it somehow. But at the same time, you always should try to show yourself, do not give up: write letters, send requests. They did not take you now, they will invite you the day after tomorrow, and you will get to a huge exhibition, and contacts will be established ...

One more thing: you need to do more conceptual things. I should admit that there are a lot of other things in the world, besides the academic school and the ability to paint: amazing videos, installations, photography. The world of art is extremely rich! So experiment more, you need to experiment with everything!

"The main thing for an artist is to have a tremendous goal of being someone"
– Sergei Sviatchenko

What difficulties do you overcome when creating projects? In your opinion, do the difficulties mean a failure?

The process of an artist living in art is the most difficult. As an artist’s life is ups and downs. If you decide to be an artist, you have to accept that life is insanely complicated - today your work is bought, and tomorrow you won’t get to the exhibition, which you have dreamt about because there are different people, different curators, different opinions… Therefore, everything is very difficult, and I wish you all have the patience to go through this difficult trip. Moreover, I believe that the main thing for an artist is to have a tremendous goal of being someone. If there is no goal - you can get depressed and so on, but if you move forward, even if it's a difficult path, it nevertheless reveals the prospects.

Taking the opportunity of communicating with you, can we ask you to give advice to our young artists who are only at the beginning of their path, looking for themselves and their direction in art? How to realize yourself and your ambitions?

It is difficult to give advice. Art is such a thing, in which one always needs to be very cautious, especially in their assessments, one cannot be categorical... But if to give advice, then I would say, firstly use the slightest opportunity and invest any sums of money in books, collect a library of modern art at home. I consider this an important point. No books mean no communication.

Secondly, you must clearly find yourself: where are you in this modern world? Are you inspired by this direction or another one? Try to show yourself. If you feel that you are comfortable in this particular area - go ahead!

And, of course, you should have a one hundred percent orientation to the West. I believe that each Ukrainian artist who wants to make his career must be in demand in the Europe. Live in Ukraine, be in Ukraine, be a Ukrainian artist, but go ahead - that's your current situation. Now there are a lot of methods of self-realization: the Internet, a huge amount of open-call. So, please, send your work to Norway, Switzerland and so on. If you lost, it’s not a problem, just keep sending. But the most important is that you must decide where you are, whether you have the desire and ambition. It's important to be ambitious!

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