I got some fun mail today: a couple copies of the June issue of Ego Magazine i'm featured in. I have no idea how I got on the radar of a Ukrainian print magazine, but it's quite an honor. A huge thank you to Aleksandra at Ego for the opportunity. I did an interview for the feature, and was asked some really interesting questions. The magazine looks pretty awesome, and they did a great job with the title page to my interview (check the halo and type treatment!). I can't read anything in the magazine of course, but now I think I want to paint some Cyrillic [anybody speak fluent Ukrainian or Russian?]. I didn't bother to scan the pages since the interview was translated into Ukrainian (also super cool), but I'll include the interview as I sent it to them at the bottom of this post if anybody is interested.
Here's the interview in English. [some notes: there are some interesting cultural differences that come across in the questions, which is pretty fascinating in itself, hopefully my answers don't totally ruin it -- I find it pretty hard to answer questions about my paintings]
1. Women are shown as warriors, saints and martyrs on your pictures. What inspired you for creation of this series of pictures? How was born such a standpoint on woman? Is it anyhow connected with your personal life?
I'm inspired by a lot of iconography, mostly religious paintings from the baroque and neoclassical periods. I'm not a theist, but I love the power and passion that went into these huge epic pieces. so i'm making my own; iconography for atheists and skeptics like myself. I use women as my subjects for a number of reasons: first and foremost, because I find them beautiful. Second, while women are often portrayed as delicate and traditionally appear as subservient to males, I see them as having much more power...much more then men. they certainly have more power over me than any man ever has. so yes, this is very much connected to my personal life. while the idea of worshiping a god personally is not for me, worshiping women, seems much more appealing. Lastly, i'm forever intrigued by what happens to ones interpretation when gender roles are reversed.
2. “The happiness of man is called “I want”. The happiness of woman – “he wants”, - Friedrich Nietzsche wrote. George Sand continued his thought: “Love is a voluntary slavery, to which woman’s nature aspires”. Do you agree with this standpoint on woman and her feelings?
I don't think I do, although I wouldn't presume to know more about women and men than Nietzche. I don't disagree that men are probably more selfish, and women are maybe more naturally inclined to pursue loving relationships, but I certainly don't think it's as extreme as that. although, I'm 30 and haven't been in a solid relationship for quite some time, so what do I know.
3. Women at your pictures are victims or executioners? Or in the today world haven’t these two types of behavior already had strict borders? Can a woman be a victim and an executioner simultaneously? they may appear initially to be victims but that's certainly not my intent. the arrows, stigmata wounds, etc. are all taken from traditional imagery where the subjects are victims. my subjects are unaffected, provoked even. I'm putting the traditionally "weaker" sex in situations where they should be victims, but they're not. for what reason is up for interpretation.
4. Woman’s self-sacrifice is a voluntary, but not free. She will demand compensation for her sufferings: a diamond rind, for example, a compulsory sex or vacation at the seaside. What do your women demand for their self-sacrifice?
I think that entirely depends on the type of woman. I don't think all women demand anything or that all women have to sacrifice in order to be happy. that said, my women don't need to sacrifice. my saints don't acquire sainthood by the traditional means, although I can't be sure exactly how they do it.
5. Have all of your women got real prototypes? Who are they?
I use photo references for all my pieces so they are all based on real women. They are all friends who have graciously taken time to model for me, some over and over again. unless I'm painting a straight up portrait, they all take on a different persona once I paint them.
6. In some countries your pictures would be considered to be blasphemous. Are you ready to such a reaction of viewers? that is a good question. i'm prepared for certain people to find my work blasphemous, because by most definitions, it is. i'm taking traditional religious ideas and using them as a commentary on those religious, and that imagery. I don't mean to attack any particular religion, and I feel that theism and atheism are personal views, so my goal isn't to force my views on other people. that said, It is one of the few social and political issues that I'm very concerned with. how people will react though, I don't think I'll ever be prepared for. history is full of people reacting in very ridiculous and immoral ways when they feel they are doing right by their religion...which is something I'll never understand, and thus, never be able to anticipate. 7. Will you develop this theme in future? Or maybe do you have absolutely new ideas? so far, I plan to continue to develop this theme, hopefully in many different ways. I don't have much in mind past that though, I find If I try and plan further into the future than maybe one or two pieces, I end up getting ahead of myself.