Artist with the “it” factor
Sitting down to write about someone who creates unique and powerful work within the art space is a taller task than usual. Now add being a genuine fan and the order of the day jumps higher yet again. However, the words begin to flow once you remember that this is a very cool cat indeed. A very nice, not to mention hip, and talented artist who cuts and pastes (amongst other things) for a living, to create renown contemporary art in the form of collages. He is a busy man with his hand in many pies.
Through his “could spot it a mile away” style, Sergei Sviatchenko reconstructs the world we think we know, assembling the familiar into the unexpected, creating surreal new configurations in which viewers are free to discover their own narratives and meanings. He challenges us to see the world differently, mixing politics with pop culture and everything in between, and has gained the title of “provocateur in the world of contemporary art”. His photomontages take us out of reality and ask us to view things differently; see details and visual cues through an entirely new lens.
Born in the Ukraine, and now residing in Denmark, Sergei received a PhD is architecture before beginning to pursue art through collage and painting. His most recent channel of expression came in 2009 when he started Close Up and Private, a photo blog dedicated to the visual language of style and documenting the details of mens fashions. The clever and thought provoking blog took on a life of its own in the real world and led to collaborations with fashion brands and also became a painted series. Recently he’s been voted the best dressed man in Denmark for his style, and most likely contribution to the fashion landscape as well.
As am image maker and follower of fashion Mr. S collaborated with Costume National, putting his Close Up and Private stamp on their AW 11/12 collection. Armed with a shared energy with the Costume National brand and the Beatles as inspiration the results were fantastic, and his interpretation can be seen in the images along side this post (can you spot which ones?) Or check out the video for the full experience here.
Between creating, blogging, and collaborating, I got a fan filled moment with Sergie Sviatchenko and am keeping my fingers crossed there will be a part two to this feature.
If you could have one piece of art, the ultimate piece, even just for a day by whom and what would it be? Villa Savoye by Le Corbusier.
What is the best gift you were ever given? It is so difficult to answer, because there were so many, mostly from my kids and Helena my wife. Helena makes very original gifts. A lot of apples in the windows or words written on a long ribbon, depending on how old I become.
How would you define your style? In your life and in fashion sense. We are allowed to make mistakes, we live trying. To be involved, to be interesting about various things, to communicate, to be sincere, to work hard. All the before mentioned apply to fashion too. Fashion is a serious matter, it is a part of our culture.
To the new fans looking at your work for the first time how would you describe it? And what do you want them to take away from their first experience? It is a spontaneous connecting of the elements; it is like poetry for me. You take something recognisable and create a new story. Each person looking at my work will start somewhere with me, but finish at a new place.
Your project Close Up and Private, is genius, just the details …. How cool clever and refreshing, the simplicity is very so cool! How did you come up with it? I had discovered the culture of blogs and blogging and wanted to participate. I am not a man of words, but images so that is why I choose to put a row of images to communicate the message. I also wanted to prove that fashion photography shall be useful, democratic, and free from tricks. I like to work with the images, cutting out unimportant parts, changing colours a little, adding “random” images to emphasise and postulate the importance of how we look at things.
Are you into fashion and if so what designers are you fond of? Yes, I am into fashion as a cultural phenomenal. It is a part of our daily routine as well. Over the years the process of what to wear has changed, there were mistakes too. Now it is more like collecting things. The thought “I will probably need a pale blue polo” can occur, but where I can find it, doesn’t matter anymore. But I appreciate Paul Smith, Junya Watanabe, Thom Browne, A.P.C., and other unknowns.
What do you do in your spare time? I don’t separate my time. It is all under “life time”. Oh, I should probably mention here that my wife’s version of the “birth” of CUAP (Close Up and Private) was when I wanted to spend more time with my grown up children and do something together.
How did you begin, and do you participate in any other art mediums? Are you secretly also amazing at watercolour? I was educated in architecture in the 1970s Soviet Union. The education included a lot of art classes and art history which are great advantage for life.
What is meant by everything goes right or left if you want it to? It is my motto. Explaining all the turns I took and will take.
Pop styling and photomontage seems to be having a moment, do you think our obsession with celebrity and the over sharing of images online plays a part in the interest? I don’t think it is obsession with celebrity, more the need for closeness, kind of sharing the moments of happiness. I am talking here about “the over sharing of images online”. Collage as a media existed a long time. I do all my collages by scissors and glue btw.
Are there any current pop culture phenomena you are thinking of exploring in your work next? Are you intrigued by reality television at all (i.e Kim Kardashian) or Instagram? I watch only news on television; have no idea who “Kim Kardashian” is, but my children do like Instagram.
Do you participate in social media or follow virtual dialogues? What I do is more like a monologue, but I have a nice audience, which makes me happy.
Do you have any thoughts on the sensory overload we are currently experiencing in today’s culture, yet we constantly want to feed ourselves with more of everything, is it an addiction or vicious cycle?Well, it is all about the focus. We are able to keep focus on the topics that are interesting to us and we are limited by time how many topics we choose to work with or spend time on.
Can you tell us a bit about the process and the evolution of one of your pieces? When I was in my 20s I watched the film “Mirror” by Andrei Tarkovsky. It changed my life. I didn’t think about it then, but I know it now. I immigrated to Denmark in 1989 and my professor, knowing my passion to the film, gave me a few frames (cut offs). I kept them in a small envelope for many years, but in 2008 I decided to work with them, I scanned them and made a series of collages “Mirror by Mirror”. I was able to show them to someone who knew Andrei Tarkovsky, to his younger sister Marina. Life gave me an opportunity not only meet her, but to learn from her husband, who studied with Andrei himself. Wonderful people, who devoted their lives to keeping the legacy of Andrei Tarkovsky and also his father Arsenij Tarkovsky, a poet of the dimension of Brodsky. I brought the exhibition to the different places, each time adding a series of new collages. And last year we made a short experimental film “Mirror by Mirror” with my young talented collaborator Noriko Okaku. We won an award last year at the Lucca International film festival. It is not obsession I feel gratitude to a person who could see the world differently and had the courage to bring it through his short life.
The messages in your work may not appear immediately and requires the viewers to think and question. Do you have any advice for us to keep discovering to continue to push our limits and learn? There is no need to push. We are pushed all the time by the events we cannot comprehend or change. It can be politics or human tragedies. What I can advise is to learn. Take a topic and study, in order to have your own opinion on the subject and to know the chronology of events or processes.
I’m a Canadian with a husband from Liverpool, and not only have I always loved Costume National I was excited to discover the Beatles inspiration in the campaign and then also in your series Obscured by Time.!! Are you into music? Can you indulge us with a few of your favourite musicians? Oh yes, I am into music: The Beatles, The Doors, Pink Floyd, Janis Joplin, Santana, Aphrodite’s Child, Free, Genesis, Motown music. I have collected LPs all my life and have a good collection of vinyl.. But I listen to contemporary music, for instance now: Black Keys, Damon Albarn, Goldfrapp, Arcade Fire, Arctic Monkeys, Snow Patrol, Radiohead, Grizzly Bear and many great others.
What is next for you? A book, my monograph Sergei Sviatchenko Collages Edited by Rick Poynor and published by SCHLEBRÜGGE.EDITOR (Vienna). It’s 220 pages and out in autumn 2014.