The events of 2020 have not only affected the global economy. All spheres of human life have changed due to the new circumstances.
Despite many negative consequences for society in general, and certain industries in particular, there are no closed doors for art. All accidental circumstances are an opportunity to review and search for new solutions. To better understand these processes, Oscar talked to Veronika Kyrychenko, an artist, psychologist, teacher, and participant in several European exhibitions and competitions.
Veronika, do you cooperate with international projects and organizations?
My team and I work in cooperation with the Italian Galleria CAEL, holding a collective exhibition in Milan. We became close friends during the period of negotiations and the organization of the exhibition. I do love this country and its culture. It’s a great reason to get to know Italy, its inhabitants, and customs.
We also participate in the Arte Laguna Prize – the world’s most influential competition for aspiring artists and designers. The winner this year has the opportunity to join a vast, global network of cooperation, and exhibit at the Venetian Arsenal in March 2021.
We’re also currently negotiating with the Agora Gallery of Contemporary Art in New York. The Agora Gallery brings artists and collectors together into one big, friendly family.
And last but not least, we work closely with Spain and Germany. With Germany, we have an extraordinary story to tell, as we’re preparing a unique project there. For now, we would prefer to keep it a secret. But very soon we’ll be able to present it to the world. I can only say that it will be a fascinating collaboration with artists from different cities in Germany.
Trust me, every collaboration is exciting to me. Today my team has more than 100 contacts across galleries, print publications, magazines, and curators. These are people with a rich history, great experience, and amazing ideas. It’s an amazing world, the world of beauty, art, painting, and communication; a world of people who were able to move forward despite all the global restrictions and prohibitions. Therefore, I do want to walk this path. And I also want to show Ukrainian artists that the world is open, and we are part of it.
Are you currently conducting any lessons or workshops? Have you thought about continuing teaching in European countries?
I’ve been engaged in teaching for a long time – since 1996, I believe. Compared to this period of time, two years of rest is nothing. So, for now, I want to spend time alone with myself, get away from the rational, and stop being involved in the development and growth of others. However, as soon as an internal need or desire arises, I’ll prepare and conduct the course with pleasure and joy. I have something to share with others.
Do I want to continue teaching in European countries? It’s an interesting question. I do not want to work in governmental structures: they always have restrictions, frameworks, and conditions to which I have to agree. But to teach by myself – why not? Life is so unpredictable that it’s better not to think ahead. Everything changes, and I will not resist or hinder any developments. I’m always open to new beginnings and gratefully accept all the opportunities and chances that life gives me.
While I was answering your question, the following came to my mind: Ukraine is a country of young people. You’ll not see many people over the age of 50 on the street. In my opinion, this isn’t entirely fair. This year I will be 55, and I’m alive, free, and sometimes even more open to new things than I was years ago. I’m ready to start many things from scratch: I want to do it; I have the strength, desire, experience, and knowledge. (Smiling)
In your interviews, you have noted that many paintings from your latest Outsights series are a reflection of your perception of the stories of clients you have worked with as a psychologist, and a reflection of the use of art therapy. Have you painted anything that reflects your personal feelings caused by the lockdown?
Of course. It’s such an interesting time! The whole world is in an unusual situation. The passage of time has been disrupted. We are faced with changes in everyday life, the basis of our existence, which we usually don’t even notice: the amount of time we spend with our family and children, enclosure in our own home, the inability to travel, and remote jobs, for example.
The hardest thing for me was realizing the improbability of the situation of being cut off from the world: half-empty airports, the inability to travel and move freely, empty city streets, a feeling of the unreality of what was happening, and the strange passage of time. Nowadays there are many jokes about the year we have missed. Yes, there’s a feeling that something important has been missed, or didn’t take place, though a lot has been done during this period. However, it seemed to be a different life altogether. Not the one that was expected in 2019 and roughly laid out and outlined. Consciousness plays games with us, and, of course, this is reflected in my paintings. I hope that all the lockdown adventures will finish by March: then, to make up for lost time, we’ll have to live two years in one. (Smiling)
Are you interested in other art movements besides abstractionism?
Do you plan to work on them?
Probably. I always swim against the tide. I often tell myself: “listen to the wind and move along with it.” But first of all, I strive to be honest with myself. From my experience as a consultant, I understand that this is the most challenging thing of all. If I don’t want any borders and barriers deep down, I don’t build them. I’m even suspicious of punctuation marks! (Laughing)
Of course, I like many works from different movements, but I only act based on my inner feelings. Many artists have switched from hyperrealism to abstraction and vice versa. I’m always learning, trying new things, and getting inspired by other artists’ work. No one knows what will eventually come out of it. Freedom and movement are the main things for me.
When you took your first steps in painting, did you have a mentor or spiritual guide to help and advise you? Or did you take this path all by yourself?
I learned from everyone who allowed me to be free, but mostly I focused on my own understanding and feelings. It’s impossible to take a completely independent path: we live in a particular environment, and it impacts us every second. It’s impossible to resist, and thus we are predominantly the result of these endless influences. The only difference is how we transform these influences and what we then do with them. I’ve been painting for a long time, but I always take time for breaks, retreats, and growth.
Have you ever wondered about your paintings’ destiny after their sale?
I try to let them go. It’s the same with children: to have a fully-fledged relationship with your adult kid, you need to go through a separation period.
You have a video on your Instagram account of you playing drums. Do you have a musical background? What role does music play in your life and work today?
I only studied in a music school. The drum kit was an opportunity to try something completely new. I liked it, but after quarantine began, I lost myself because of the fuss and constant lack of time. I really want to return to them, though: the drums’ living breath is an incredible experience and a source of inspiration. My team and I are even preparing a new project – “Sounds of Color”. By the time this interview comes out, I think we’ll have implemented it. It’ll be marvelous, no doubt.
Veronika, you travel a lot. Tell us about a country you have visited that has inspired new experiments.
I love traveling. Before quarantine, I think I’d visited all the leading museums in Europe: in Vienna, Paris, Amsterdam, The Hague, Berlin,
Madrid, Barcelona, Rome, Venice, Munich, Nice, and Monaco.
One of the most vivid impressions was left by Norway. My most important memory of the country is connected with the Oslo Opera House, but also with Munch, Bergen, the fjords… Upon my return home, I had a feeling that there was nothing left to surprise me. But after about a month, the winds of change took me again into distant lands.
If you could purchase any painting in the world, what would it be and why?
I can’t choose just one because there are so many that I like. To be honest, I dream of the day when they open a new airport in Dnipro with a vast number of direct flights. Then there will be an opportunity to fly freely around the world and study paintings in museum exhibitions over and over again. Every time I meet them, it’ll be in a new way, and I’ll experience fresh feelings. And discover those that previously escaped my notice, if I so wish.