“Shall we make a selfie now or later?”, you expect to hear this from anyone, but not from an icon painter. He is sitting down, beginning to smoke and starting… no, not to talk, but to enjoy.
Some moments are coming back to me from the childhood. The first impressions. The funniest things. Then there was a disease, Beatlemania, it was crazy, hard to imagine. There was a repair at our school, there were many layers of paint on the desks, and I drew graphite Beatles there. There was a big scandal, but I did not care about that school.
About Stereotypes and Canons
A canon is an absurd word. What is canonically? This is how it has to be. In Africa this is canonically, in Greece that is, in Russia other things are canonical. During the Soviet Union they knocked into our heads not to love our culture. Accordingly, Russian and Italian painting was imposed on us. And our painting was not taught for us. This is the problem. If you do not have yours, you accept somebody’s. A wrong stereotype was formed, i.e. it has to be the same as in Russia. There is the Ukrainian icon, Ukrainian music, literature.
I have my style in painting, and many people do not accept it. It is always so. You do something. Some people liked it, others did not. But you do it honestly, at the level of the genetic code. An icon is a prayer for me, this is not copying postcards. My principle is freedom, without any laws. If somebody does not like, this is natural, it would be bad if everybody liked. Not everybody likes even hot dogs. I never praise or criticize, my works are my subconsciousness.
“The Ukrainian icon is a phenomenon that was created at the intersection of cultures combined by the East and the West”
I do not like the word “artist”. I think that art is to be yourself. When a person creates, he or she feels good. And whether it is an art, it is not known. I am not good at it. The only one, who is good at art, is time. Today you may be famous and successful, but five years later nobody will remember you. As I understand creativity/art, you start to create and burn. When I paint icons, I burn totally, I create music, write poems. They say to me: your poems are rubbish, they should not be written like this. I say: and do you know how they should be written? Then write!
90% of my poems are sets of words, I play with them, as a child, I play and many people like them. Paradoxically, but somebody reads and says that this is very cool, but somebody says? that this is rubbish. My plays are based on the idea that each of the heroes tells about himself or herself not listening to anyone. This is the conflict. I was asked: what is the idea? No idea, just listen to people.
About New Forms
I like when a painter plays like a child. Because we are the most right in our childhood. I do not care what to paint on, it is not important. Sometimes I take some boards, nails, carton, and stick all this. Sometimes they say: Levko, paint on the canvas. But I organize my exhibitions and continue to wind them up.
“I never criticize the government on Facebook page. There are girls, selfies, having fun of something, some gibing there. And what to criticize? Myself?”
About a Creative Crisis
There is a volcano inside me. I want to do everything: plays, books, pictures, music. When a person does not want to paint, then what crisis can be?
But if you stop to paint, then perhaps, you will not return. I think that a crisis occurs when an artist sets a goal. The worst target is fame. When you live and burn, fame will follow you and there will be money. Or there will not be money. Because there are no criteria here.
“The worst thing for me is lying. When a person lies, I will not shout, but I will ignore. This is much worse than shouting or swearing”
My experience has demonstrated that when an artist is young, and he organizes his first exhibitions, they are spectacular. As soon as people start buying his pictures, he becomes dependent, and he cranks the pictures out. And that’s it. He is a slave of money. Like a printer. People come to the exhibition, there are 400 pictures there, and all are identical. This is much worse than a creative crisis.
Photo: Juliya Low