Article from "London Info" #09, 17-23 December 2010

Article from "London Info" #09, 17-23 December 2010

Quote: Draw what you see; paint what you feel. (Francis Boag)

Title - "Victoria Kovalenchikova: a brave artist and an ambitious gallery owner"

Author - Daria Alyukova.

A young but distinguished artist, Victoria was born in Belarus where she studied and had her first exhibitions. Her excellent technique and expressive style quickly gained recognition. She moved to Amsterdam 2,5 years ago and made the next step - opened her gallery. Her works were recently presented in London at Art Bizarre Salon. We talked to Victoria about the vital elements of success.


Did the move to the Netherlands influence your works?
Yes, environment always has tremendous impact on every artist. Amsterdam, a very lively and artistic city, brings a lot into my works. There is a vast community of creative people working here, dozens of galleries. Also, many relevant events and art fairs take place almost every week. You can even say that Amsterdam is in a way supersaturated with art. I moved to the Netherlands 2.5 years ago. Naturally, it added new features to my paintings. I think this chance to change your environment is a great gift for an artist - it opens your eyes, and you have fresh perspective. I even think that you can see more things than the locals, as soon as a newcomer is more sharp-eyed. Also, the whole arrangement is quite stressful, and I believe it gives you momentum. If you live in one and the same place for many years, you get relaxed.

How can you describe a situation with art sphere in the Netherlands?
> Local artists are in a way "spoiled" by the abundance of grant programmes and scholarships. The Netherlands used to be even more generous before the financial crisis, but even now there are many opportunities. I think there is a delicate balance between supporting artists and spoiling them with too much financing. May be an artist needs to stay a bit hungry to keep developing.

How big is the difference in the art education in Europe and post-Soviet countries?
Well, in post-Soviet countries it is much more conservative. Much attention is given to polishing the technical skills. However, it is a tremendous "competitive advantage" here - European artists often highlight my technique. In Europe the focus in art education is shifted towards conceptual self-expression, and it often to the prejudice of classical skills. At the same time, in post-Soviet countries realism is still strong, this causes focusing on skills of realistic representation. But this is also insufficient in and of itself; without personal ideas it is impossible to say a new word in art.

In Europe there is much more artistic freedom, but the reverse of the coin is obvious - if you are not orderly, this lack of control and schedule discourages. Some discipline is vital. There is a very fine line - too much artistic freedom is as unfavourable as too little of it.

So self-discipline is one the vital personal characteristics of a successful artist. What other features do you consider important?
Hard work is what allows you to unlock the natural potential. A talented but lazy and unambitious artist has few chances for success. Self-motivation is a key to achievement.

You mention technique and concepts as vital elements. What else matters in a piece of art?
I think emotions are essential. Sometimes you look at a painting and see the perfect technique, but it does not touch you... I think that emotions and energy are the reason why some pieces of art sell for millions.

Why did you decide to open your own gallery?
It seemed to be an obvious next step. By the time I moved to the Netherlands, I already had peer recognition and media exposure in my own country, so I was quite confident. I wanted to make a statement as soon as possible, and opening a gallery was the best way to do that in my case. I took that risk.

So you are an artist and a gallery owner in one. How difficult is that?
It really helps to be an artist yourself when you need to pick the works of other artists for the gallery. This experience allows you to create a very strong exposition where all the pieces are in harmony. But all this takes a lot of time and effort, of course. It doubles the work in fact. And it is crucial not to get distracted by organizational matters, not to forget that creative side is central.

What is your know-how, your personal technique?
First of all, I don't use an easel - I put canvas on the floor. I work with a palette-knife to put epoxy paint first; it creates beautiful texture, a powerful brushstroke. Then I cover it with a thin layer of oil paint, it gives the impression of liquidity. Once a reviewer wrote that my works show "watercolor oil".

You use some innovative materials, is that the influence of conceptual Amsterdam?
Yes, this is a perfect example of how environment can affect art. This country is famous for great industrial design and interest to new technologies.

What are your further plans and ambitions?
In the beginning of 2011 I will have a solo exhibition in London - this is a big step forward. I have many ideas and plans in terms of artistic development, and I would like to have exhibition in other major cities in many countries.

Paste:
The solo exhibition of Victoria's works will take place from 10th February to 13th of April in Business Exchange, 55 Broad street, Liverpool street tube. A special event will be also organized on the 8th of March to celebrate the International Women's Day.