Serhiy Kolyada

Alla Michelle Watson Interviews Serhiy Kolyada
May 2006

Alla Michelle Watson Interviews Serhiy Kolyada

MH: Perhaps this sounds cynical, but how do you find something unique and inspiring to paint when pretty much everything has been done already? Is there an unexplored arena still left for a modern artist?

SK: I absolutely agree with you. Now some artists (or they call themselves artists) refuse to draw or paint and just make installations or "ready made objects". When I see all this in Ukraine I ask myself do they know that all of this has been done in States or Europe in 1960s-70s? Or the same is about abstract art which is everywhere in Ukrainian galleries. As for my art, I try to create as I call it "New Reality" (at the same time I understand that the name is not also new). My art is a mixture of the quotations from the old classical art (I give them another meaning), today's life and pop symbols taken from the ads, magazines and literature. And besides political and social commentaries. All this is called postmodernism. Also the new thing is the technique of the ball-point pen. I visited a lot of the
web-galleries throughout the world and didn't find something like I make.

MH: Do you have a formal education in Fine Arts?

SK: I studied in the children art school and then visited art studio for some years when I was young, but I have high linguistic education and I think it gave me a lot for my art. I mean literature and philosophy.

MH: You've probably heard this expression: Painting is a way of speech. For someone visiting a gallery with your art, what sort of literary message do your works convey to your 'readers'?

SK: A lot of real artists said that they tried to show the truth, even if they make their own reality. I try to do the same. The problem is not a lot of people would like to see and to show the truth.

MH: There's Russian, Ukrainian and English on your web site. Are you multi-lingual? How does it affect your painting?

SK: As I said I studied Linguistics at the University, so I speak these three languages. This really helped me. Now almost all of my clients are from abroad, in Ukraine nobody is interested in my art. So that's why my site is
multi-lingual. And I also use some "slogans" in my art in different languages, some mass trade brands like international pop symbols.

MH: Can you comment on the most widely used symbols in your paintings and their meaning?

SK: The meanings of the symbols are always different for me and people who look at my art. I mean they change their meaning every day. In fact they don't have the straight meaning; everybody sees something different in my
symbols and me also.

MH: Tell us about other Ukrainian artists whose work you admire. Is there one artist who especially influenced your work?

SK: I think I won't tell you about contemporary Ukrainian artists, to my mind there are not artists in Ukraine worth talking about. I mean there are not original artists who make original art. They only make the same things, which were already in art history, just copy all the art styles, which were created by the famous artists. I have to say that I consider Taras Shevchenko (a great artist and poet of 19 century) to be one of my teachers. I mean not only his art and literature but also his understanding life and his position in it. By the way, I use the quotations from his art. I was also influenced by Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali, German Expressionists, and Western rock music especially when it was forbidden in ex-Soviet Union. And of course some writers as Henry Miller, N. Gogol, F. Dostoevsky, M. Bulgakov and a lot of others.

MH: What is your favorite medium? Are paints/brushes/etc. easily accessible? Are they affordable?

SK: I think my art is original not only because of the subjects but also the medium I use. I make my art with black ball-point pen, which all people use for hand writing. People who look at my drawings don't believe me when I say
that I use just the ball-point pen. I spend a lot of years to make such results, I mean to make the drawings which look like photographs. My drawings are from A4 to A1 size and I spend from two weeks to two months to make one piece, it depends on a size. And sometimes I add some watercolours, colour markers, pens, ink and the technique of collage- I glue some details.

MH: What do you have to do in Ukraine to promote yourself? Can you, for example, take an ad in a magazine? Post flyers in restaurants? Or is it mostly word of mouth?

SK: I can put an ad in Ukrainian magazines or papers but only theoretically, I mean first of all it costs too much and it is impossible when the editors see my art. They say that it isn't forbidden but shows some other reasons. They do everything not to accept my art, it is the same with our galleries (it is like Master in M. Bulgakov's "Master and Margarita" couldn't publish his novel. The editors gave him the same reasons that I hear now). Only foreign publishers in Ukraine placed some ads and articles about my art in their papers free of charge (Kyiv Post and What's On). You understand that all of them are read only by the foreigners who work in Ukraine, like diplomats for example. By the way, a lot of them bought my pieces. It is interesting, my friend Andriy Vashchenko helps me to spread the flyers everywhere, he made my website and also the flyers. Last time we made a lot of link exchanges with web magazines and galleries throughout the world. Andriy helps me to do all this on my site and I am very gratefull to him. And it is also word of mouth.

MH: I left Odessa, Ukraine, 25 years go when it was virtually impossible for an artist to express their true self. Given today's softer political climate, has the art scene changed since the collapse of the Soviet Union? Is it still difficult for an artist to get into a gallery? An international show?

SK: All the galleries in Ukraine have their personal contacts in the world, they send the art which they want for the international shows. To get into this circle of artists is almost impossible. I think it is special sort of mafia in Ukrainian galleries. They control the situation here and don't allow all of the artists to make a show. They get grants from abroad, for example from George Soros who doesn't realy know the real situation in Ukrainian arts, he thinks that he helps to develop freedom of speech and arts in Ukraine, but this freedom is not for everybody. And the people who organize international shows abroad contact our galleries but not artists personally.

MH: Where can we see your art in the United States? Any news of upcoming shows you'd like to share with our readers?

SK: I have now almost thirty pieces placed in the "State of the Arts Gallery" in Sarasota, Florida (You can contact David Steiner, the Gallery owner, at or visit the Gallery: State of the Arts Gallery / 1525 State St. / Sarasota Florida USA / 34236, phone number 941 955-2787.)

visit the artist's website:
Serhiy's Website - Underground Art

Gallery | Slide Show | Cover

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