Beyond all concepts and meanings,
there is the simple pleasure of witnessing the endless repetition of waves,
of mountains, of fire, of the wind that moves the grass,
of people's lives, and of lines…
As simple a process as a constant repetition of ink lines might represent
a long and personal path of self-development in art and in life…
Simplicity might hide complexity, masculinity might mask tenderness.
If it were not for life in China, I would not do what I do now. China inspired me, but it took me a few years of self-reflection to recognize its exact influence upon me.
I grew up in a mid-sized city in Western Ukraine. A city where every centimeter of space mattered as everything was either limited or unavailable — canvases, materials, studios. The art represented in local museums and art shops (we did not have galleries at that time) was done using heavy oil paint. It suited the old city's aesthetics, which were a mix of European and Soviet heritage, with its massive sculptures on buildings' facades in warm colors. That surrounding influenced me and my artistic expression. While studying art in a local college, all my dreams were in heavy oil paint in warm colors.
During my first few years in China, my hometown's influence followed me, but it too slowly began to dissipate with the experience of the new city. In Beijing, the sizes of the canvases were as impressive as the size of the capital itself. The availability of it was not an issue, and the space of the artist's studio could be filled with any sort of art and still have free room left over for new experiments. The color of the contemporary buildings, Chinese ink, and hints of tradition left on Beijing's streets gave one’s imagination more room to explore new possibilities. Beijing’s different contrasts were unlike anything that I had experienced in Ukraine. The duality of my past and my new future gave me a push to try something new and explore beyond my earlier boundaries.
The first «serious» artwork directly influenced by the circumstances mentioned above was the triptych «Three Steps». Although the size of the piece was not huge, it took significant courage for me to get started on it and 4 to 5 months of working 6 hours daily to complete. I needed courage because I feared that people may not enjoy the piece that I was about to create. I was trying something new. My fear also stemmed from the fact that I did not graduate from an art school or university, where unusual ideas were accepted. Instead, my surroundings were very conservative and in keeping with the region that I lived in. It was about being «common» and ordinary. To see contemporary art in Ukraine, you needed to make a trip to the capital to the only art center available. It felt «unnatural» for me to be surrounded by something more unique and contemporary. In China, I found my old notions being subverted by these new circumstances and encounters. I met an artist here who covered a 10-meter paper with a pencil. It made me realise that art was not necessarily about being «common» or «pretty». It had the potential to be something much bigger. I had the potential to be something different than what I thought I was.