Interview | GRAPHICS | BELARUSIAN | 1.05.2020
Chrysalis Mag talked to graphic artist Ekaterina Prokopieva about studying at the Academy of Arts, linocuts and plans for the future.
– How did it all begin? Did you know from childhood that you would become an artist, or did awareness come later? Or maybe it happened by accident?
– I have loved to draw since I was a kid, but in general just like all children, I didn’t pay “special” attention to this. I went to different classes, starting from figure skating and ending with a music school, but I always went to art studios.
I attended a regular school and I just didn’t like anything there, not a single subject except for drawing and physical education. Therefore, when the 9th grade was approaching and it was necessary to choose what I wanted to do, I decided to go to the art college named after A.K. Glebov. This is how it all began.
The realisation that I want to become an artist came to me just a couple of years ago, and until that moment, to be honest, I only had blurry fantasies and no goal in life.
I had no other choice, because my character completely determined my activity. I just can’t do anything other than art, so this was not an accident, even if it looked like it from the outside.
"Tristan and Isolde" / linocut
– Do you think your education has influenced you? Would you advise current students to get it? And if so, where: at home or abroad? Why?
– Education, of course, had a huge influence and I cannot imagine development without it. I am very pleased that I entered the academy and discovered linocut. We are taught by the most wonderful professors, who always tell you the best way to present your work, guide you in the right direction without interfering in the student’s technique.
As to whether it is worth going to study abroad, I cannot answer because I don’t have such experience. I think that there are more opportunities for self-development. However, our Academy has a fairly high level of graphics, so I don’t know how justified it is.
Is it worth studying at the faculty of “Graphics” at the Academy? Everyone answers this question themselves, but if a person really wants to become an artist and is ready to take some actions, then this is a great place where you can develop freely. But if there is a need for direction and control, then disappointment will most likely come.
"Notre-Dame de Paris" / linocut
– Is there anything in your profession that you would like to change?
– There are several important aspects in the profession of an artist, and the first is an unprepared viewer: most people know very little about art, they don’t have enough aesthetic perception to appreciate the artist’s work. Basically, everyone loves paintings with blooming gardens and golden autumn, while the graphics for them are too black and gloomy.
The second aspect is the lack of money for the acquisition. If a person doesn’t have enough funds for his own needs, he won’t invest in creativity.
I'm afraid that only the state can fix it. The only opportunity is to develop in the direction: to make sure that as many people as possible know you, which quite often contradicts the lifestyle and character of the artist.
Untitled / linocut
– Can you mark those who inspire you?
– Actually, I’m very interested in music, and it often gives some kind of image for my work. I often look at works of other graphic artists, such as Dore, for example.
Also known contemporary artists, whom I follow in social networks.
And of course, if I get positive feedback on my work, then I want to create more to please others and give inspiration to them.
"Dante's Paradise Circle" / linocut / 2018
– Do you use social networks or do you carry out more activities in real life? Do you participate in exhibitions?
– Unfortunately, I spend a lot of time on social networks just like most modern people. I publish my work online to find customers and so far, this is my only source of income.
I haven’t yet had a personal exhibition, but my works have been exhibited periodically at the Academy of Arts.
Showing your work is always scary. There are doubts, and suddenly nobody needs it, or what I'm doing isn’t good enough. But all this is manageable, and I think that soon my work will be more active.
"Dante's Paradise" / linocut
– Is there a main theme / issue in your work? What are they talking about? Why are they like that? If we publish a series of theses, we can talk a little about them.
– Any artist expresses themselves in their canvases, and I am no exception. I have already formed my own working method — usually I listen to a song and immerse myself in it. Pictures and other visual stories come to me. I think I could make a film, write a book, invent a dance or draw an animation, only from one such impression. Also, it’s always associated with the feelings that I experience in relation to specific people. I can talk with someone, and then, in an inspired state of mind, come home and come up with a sketch. This is a rather delicate and deep emotional work, and I think that the main driving force is the love for people and for everything that surrounds me.
For me, this is a therapeutic process, and in this way I can let go of my emotions, which I couldn’t express in real life. Linocut, like meditation, gives me peace of mind.
My work is a subconscious mind that “goes outside”. The most common topic that I illustrate is the other world as I see it and for me it’s a place that changes in accordance with the experience, thoughts, perceptions of the person who gets there. I don’t know why this topic attracts me, but I’d like to somehow direct the viewer to the fact that life is not eternal. I need to think about the correctness of my actions and I don’t incorporate any religious values, just the universal ones. Sometimes I think that this is irrelevant now and I have a fairly traditional technique. I don’t know if it has a future, but working in this technique is very interesting.
“In Exile” / linocut / 2019
– Are you inspired by reviews and reactions to your work? How do you feel about them?
– I feel joy when others admire my work. At such moments, I am really happy that my work is appreciated.
– Do you have plans for joining the Belarusian Union of Artists, for example? Or are you already a member of a professional art organization? In general, is there such a desire, and what, in your opinion, can this give you today?
– I am not a member of any organization, and, frankly, I only know one. I think I would like to be accepted into the Union of Artists, because it gives a little more opportunity and they can provide a personal studio, for example.
Untitled / linocut
– Most of your work is done in linocut technique, why do you prefer it?
– The first thing that attracts me is the very process of cutting white on black material, as if I were painting with light. I really like it! It looks unusual compared to a simple drawing on paper.
The second is the feeling of the material itself: there is some balance of hardness and softness. Very nice feeling. I used to be fond of wood carving, so I especially like working in this technique.
This is a fairly “clean” job, except for scraps of linoleum, which are then found everywhere.
I love the lines very much, and the material just allows us to make them continuous and long, and they look like waves of energy, as if I see them while closing my eyes.
I also love other graphic techniques, for example etching, but the fact that it can be harmful to my health is disturbing, so I put it aside cause working with acid is scary. In addition, I love when it’s clearly visible what is obtained in the process of work. In linocut, both cut and printed, there will be no surprises.
Untitled / linocut
– What is the average size and format of your works? It seems that they are huge! Around a square meter!
– My artworks are indeed about a meter, especially the latter, which is my graduation project. Most of all I cut out engravings approximately 50 × 70 cm. However, it is often said that it’s better to look at my paintings “live”, because then they look larger than in the photo and it’s more visible how much work has been done.
– Is there any dream related to professional activity?
– My dream is to create freely, to be able to do what I love, to be an artist.
I would like my works to be recognisable and exhibited in famous galleries. Everything is very simple.
"Dante's Hell" / linocut / 2018
“Light in the Dark” / linocut / 2019
Ekaterina Prokopyeva is a professional graphic artist. She has been working as a freelancer for about 2 years and has extensive experience in graphics. She's working on the linocut and woodcut technique. Ekaterina also skilled in digital graphics and painting.
Ekaterina is a student of the Academy of Arts, at the moment she's working on her diploma.
Graduated from the college named after A.K. Glebov with a degree in graphic design.
All materials are taken from the official site and personal sources of the artist.
Special thanks: Daria Pisareva
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