INTERVIEW: How do you understand that the artwork is finished?

At Camden Image Gallery, a thematic group exhibition underscores how the Russian Contemporary Art has been developing since 2000s.

The artists speak to Viola Sevostianova, the founder of Parrot Fine Art about artistic burn out, the first exhibition experience , and their innovative view on contemporary art today.


Viola: In what technique or style do you work?
The 
FRYM: If we speak about the style, I’d probably answer ‘expressionism’… Not to say that I strictly follow the expressionistic path, but if I have to classify, that would be the answer.

In reality, my style is rather defined by the technique which I invented. This is to be called ‘rhythmic painting’ or ‘automatism’. Automatism was first explored at the beginning of the 20th century as a method of art-making in which the artist suppresses conscious control over the making process. In my early career, I’ve been practicing calligraphy, training precise hand movement. When I moved from letters to scenes the first painting was indeed a mere chance. 

Later the haphazard technique was replaced with painting rhythms, which are seen everywhere. The FRYM Rhythm is a technique of meditative, partly unconscious moves.

V: How did you become an artist?
F: I didn’t become an artist. I was made to be one. I don’t have a story of giving up on everything to follow the dream. In fact, I tried to give up on feeling the need to be expressive. I tried to work in agencies, but felt thirsty for more.

Artists are the people, who do what they weren’t asked to do. 
With this said, I, by chance, got a job ina big animation studio. This is the place where loads of different artists don’t give up dreams.

I run my art practice, where I do what I want to do, but that doesn’t mean I can’t use my skills in helping to paint animation backgrounds or assist in producing props for a film. Thankfully my non-artistic family never thought that being an artist is not serious.


V: What was your first exhibition and how did it go?
F: My first personal exhibition was in London. I had to organise it all by myself. I didn't have a curator at that point. It was challenging because to me a solo exhibition is a sort of confession in front of the audience. It's your idea of life where each of your paintings is a different conversation. You must choose what conversation you want to bring up, and which two topics you want to expose next to each other.

I was scared. Not of the criticism, I’m way past the point of stressing about that.
It was the fear of opening up, unleashing my inner demons. It’s the feeling of being naked…beyond naked, actually.


V: What do you do if you burn out and don't know how to finish the work?
F: I don't have a problem with not finishing some artwork because I'm burned out. I am usually burned out BECAUSE I was finishing the artwork. I am obsessed when I'm painting... extremely obsessed. I start thinking about this idea very early in the morning, and I never stop thinking about it up until I go to sleep.

I don't ever have problems with falling asleep, because I work to the point that I am physically falling on my painting.
This state helps me to achieve some sort of meditative experience where I can completely shatter my body from doing anything but move my hand with a brush.

Thankfully, I have a person next to me, who observes my behaviour, and sees me burning out. Without them, I would not notice it. I would just go into a depressive mood. So, no I don't have a problem with not finishing my work.


V: How do you understand that the artwork is finished?
F: I believe there are two ways to understand. The first is to see that it's so bad that you can't fix it. You need to start all over again. So you're finished with this one.

You are also done when a message/feeling that you are painting is clear.
My painting ‘The Nocturnal Episode’ is a good example. I was working on this one for quite a long time. I started painting, started making mistakes, kept on covering it and painting again. Then I asked myself, what is it I’m trying to show exactly? - Two people at night are focusing on each other, gradually becoming a merged creature. There's nothing else they see, no interruption, no sound, nothing but the unity.
So, I simply added the symbol of night. The moon. Just like that, it felt finished.


V: What paint manufactures do you use?
F: I don’t want to advertise, but my theory is that a combination of cheap and expensive products is great. Cheap products give you unexpected results. Some paint doesn’t have good coverage and gives you an interesting texture.

When I need precision I use expensive professional paint, that will deliver without surprises. But do go and have fun with a student's range of art supplies.
My best teacher once told me: no excuses, you don’t have a pencil, fetch a bristle from a broom and mud, otherwise, you’re not a creator.


V: What is the most important thing at the beginning of an artist's career?
F: Never, never stop. Did you hear this phrase many times? Well, that is because it’s true.
One can say the most horrible things about your art but so what? Do you have to give up on yourself?

When I moved to London, I saw brands that sell some crazy shoes, incredible cakes, quirky hats which made me think, who the hell wants to buy it? But those brands have boutiques in central London because the owners never stopped doing what they truly loved.
Nobody will call you a great artist if you're doing only what people are prepared to see.

V: How do I see contemporary art today?
F: 
I think that loads of techniques and ideas have been already used, and shared, and chewed, and spat out. 

Nowadays we invent tools. I’m super excited about the industrial revolution. For instance, we now have NFTs which I was waiting and praying to be invented since 2018. At some point, the painting was not enough and I wanted to create little gifs, that would capture the dynamic. And here we are! Thanks a lot for inventing this type of art.

I’m praising every possible tool. This industrial revolution is an opportunity of a lifetime!

As for the topics of art, personally, I avoid contemporary political art, because it could be easily manipulated, misinterpreted, and is unnatural for the freedom of mind.

Courtesy: Parrot Fine Art