Volodymyr Kohut: "I perceived my victory in "Silver Easel" as a chance to stay in Ukraine"


27 October 2017
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The victory in "Silver Easel" contest is not only an opportunity to learn something new and show oneself, but also a launching pad, a powerful stimulus for the development of their own creativity for numerous young artists. Moreover, it is a chance to stay here, on your native land, to be inspired and create here. The young artist from Lviv Volodymyr Kohut felt it himself. The talented young man received the prize in "Improvisation" nomination of the "Silver Easel" contest (spring 2017) and a special prize from Max and Julia Voloshyn, the founders of the Voloshyn Gallery. This summer the young artist together with another five talented Ukrainian artists presented his work at the Summer Show exhibition in Voloshyn Gallery. About the fate of Volodymyr after "Silver Easel" and what he is working on now – in the interview to the Ugallery portal, published just a few days ago (in the original language).

_ugallery_1.jpg — 359.38 kBVolodymyr Kohut: I have been told many times about the similarity to Basquiat

The name of the young artist from Lviv Volodymyr Kohut will undoubtedly be heard by everyone in the coming years, and we are happy to open for you the artist as an individual person. Special for Ugallery, our hero told us about the origin of his art skills, his resemblance to the legendary Jean-Michel Basquiat, and about new works done with the help of 3D modelling.

– As far as I know, the last two years have been very successful for you - participation in the "Silver Easel" contest where you won the nomination from the gallery owners Max and Julia Voloshyn. Then, your works took part in the group exhibition Summer Show in the Kyiv Voloshyn Gallery, what does such success mean for you, as an artist?

– Honestly, I never took part in art contest and competitions in general, that's why there was not such an obsessive desire to win, you know, as it happens to very "active" artists – their purpose doesn't justify means. I perceived my victory in "Silver Easel" as a chance to stay in Ukraine. Yes, I mean to stay, it can be said that the prize from Julia and Max left me here, having made me a Ukrainian artist. My close friends remember that about a year ago I was completely different. Every morning I started with finding the way of emigration. I woke up, turned on my laptop and spent a lot of my precious time -  to choose the country, to register documents, etc. I counted the days when the year would end and the long-awaited departure day would come. For me, this success is more than just a "chance for the artist" – it has become a part of my formation as a person, now I look at things as an artist who has to work for the good of his country.

– Your works cannot be but compared to the works of the legendary Jean-Michel Basquiat, tell us about your style and technique, where does your art originate from?

– Everything originates from the "image," a starting point appears in my head in the form of memory or a fantasy, I paint it sometimes, and in particular, it almost always disappears with time. From other objects that are created on its basis on the canvas there is a self-destruction of the initial image of subsequent outbursts of emotions and written texts. This moment is akin to one aspect of a child's fantasy picture (where the child does not copy our world) and there are always inconsistencies in the drawings, images can not touch each other, even if such a world existed. It is doomed to self-destruction, there are no interrelations in children's drawings, I probably like painting images that exist only for themselves. I sometimes wonder if Basquiat had a similar opinion about the "image"?

___ugallery_5.jpg — 532.42 kBV. Kohut’s work

– Aren’t you afraid of comparisons with Basquiat? How important is the viewer and his opinion about your work to you?

– Am I afraid of comparisons? ... probably not, I think the fear of being "unlike" kills much more than holding the world view that is close to you. I knew such students and young artists who for 5-6 years were looking for something that no one had done before or a topic that no one worked with, and, in the end, the very process of searching destroyed them. Speaking of copying, my attitude is negative. I have been told many times about the similarity to Basquiat, nevertheless all those who say so, look at my work and do not move away until they read all the fonts on it or consider the life of individual images on the canvas in details. I think this is a kind of magic. Personally for me, the viewer is important as someone who is interested in knowing what the work portrays, it is a kind of dialogue, when the child brings his work to parents, and they almost always ask "What is it depicted in it?" and the child tells them enthusiastically. It is important for me that a viewer would sincerely ask "What's it?".

___ugallery_2.jpg — 390.52 kBV. Kohut in the studio

– Within the framework of the group exhibition at Voloshyn Gallery in Kyiv, you showed the work "Archaic Family". To read this work you call us to look at it through the eyes of a child who only starts knowing the world. It turns out, as if you proclaim the manifesto: watch art with a clear look. But, how can this be done in reality, because television and social networks distort our reality and art in particular?– 

– The modern world turns a lot in perception, sometimes it seems to me that soon even children will stop drawing clear images, the Internet and social networks has changed everything so much. Now probably as never before it is important to reconsider our views on many things, to analyse our life not because it is wrong, but simply because of caution not to succumb to the influence of this ruthless information flow that devastates a person and destroys everything sincere and fragile in him.

– And, do you have a desire to comprehend what is happening in Ukraine, and in the world in general, with help of universal codes of children's creativity?

– I do have. And, it is always with me. I remember one little girl, who was sitting at a table and painting bushes and a house, and at the same time her parents were quarrelling in the kitchen, but despite tears the girl continued painting. When I paint gloomy, but children’s cloud that floats over the next head, it has more of "Ukrainian conflict" than posters with guns and slogans.

– As a big fan of Basquiat's creativity, I often meet with the reaction "I can do it too", I think it's familiar to you, do you need to persuade an opponent and whether you do it?

– I often hear such statements. No, I do not exactly convince anybody, but I always try very hard to explain why I paint in such a way, why it is important … it's not always successful, sometimes it's more important for people to see a waterfall with rocks and dew, because everything is there and everything is clear.

– Let’s get back to the Summer Show, except for the work "Archaic Family", I saw a series of interesting "images" - sketches to it. One of the works depicted the shoes of the cult fashion house Balenciaga, how do you feel about the integration of fashion and art?

– The sketch is very personal, I’m pleased that it attracted attention, I like sports footwear very much, and its design seems to me just the case where a huge aesthetic potential should be aimed at an uncompromising functional. Regarding integration in fashion, I have a positive attitude and willingly sign the right to use my work for printing on model clothes, I think it is very important what people wear, not in terms of brand, but from an individual position to aesthetics of form and style.

___ugallery_10.jpg — 544.74 kBPictures by V. Kohut in the exposition

– Can you designate the range of topics that you are interested to explore?

– For me the important topic is the "problem of a person", his place here, his contribution, is it important or also temporary? I am very much concerned with the topic of progress, informational in particular, the problem of neural networks and artificial intelligence, biomechanics and the replacement of human flesh with artificial one. It seems that the world is on the verge of a big leap into the future, and the artist's task is always to raise questions of humanity and sincerity.

– You are an artist, who lives in Lviv, but the centre of art is undoubtedly Kyiv, are you ready to move to the capital for further deeper integration into the art community?

– Quite an interesting question. Kyiv is undoubtedly the centre of art movement in Ukraine, and the rhythm of life is very much higher, compared to Lviv. A simple example: when the light turns green, the cars react three times more quickly. If there is an offer to participate in an interesting project, in order to feel it I will certainly move to the capital for a while. But just for the sake of art, the reason obviously will not be "making connections" and "visiting the art parties", I'm quite a private person, although it cannot be said by my works.

___ugallery_3.jpg — 553.18 kBV. Kohut works on a painting

– Tell us about your next project, what shall we expect?

– Right now I'm answering your question, and the next project is rendering on the other monitor, I apply CG 3D Art technologies for it. This project is a search for a place of art in the modern world, an attempt to integrate the image of a person into the inhuman space that is devoid of the laws inherent in this world; it seems to me that the child's image reveals a certain question about the density of a person’s world. It is noteworthy that my project, which raises the question of the importance of the real world, is funded by the German company Cinema 4D, the main developer in the market of 3D modelling software. They saw the importance of raising this topic for the USA, Germany, and Ukraine. Many thanks to Voloshyn Gallery, which in every possible way gives help as a curator, it is very important for me, because the artist is only a part of the idea chain, which in the end should be demonstrated in public. I hope very much to make a big project soon and raise questions for the Ukrainian and foreign viewers about the reality and humanity of people. If you ask me why I chose 3D graphics as a medium, rather than the classical real material, I’ll say probably just because of "reality", working with the theme one should always speak the language it reveals. I do not understand the concept when an artist is one-sided, one must strongly feel the world and be sympathetic to it.

I would like to present a special gift to the readers of Ugallery, making a screenshot of the project process stage, which is being created right now.

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Author: Mykola Kravchenko



Volodymyr Kohut: "I perceived my victory in "Silver Easel" as a chance to stay in Ukraine"