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Mortality and loss

Interview with Katarse

1.     Please tell us something about your background and your art journey so far.

I was born and raised in Ukraine, on the coast of the Black sea. I have always been fascinated with visual arts, so since childhood, I attended painting and drawing classes, which established my initial theoretical foundation. But when I was eighteen, I moved away from home to study philosophy in the Lviv National University. I never quit art, but the academic load was very time-consuming, so I could not produce artworks regularly at that time. However, I adored the study process, and I still deem that period of my life crucial for my artistic development. Two years later, an opportunity presented itself, and I moved again, this time to Flensburg, Germany, a place that I consider the official beginning of my creative career. I began to be more serious about my artistic career, even though I still had to juggle university, day job, and painting. It was exhausting, but it proved that I can take on challenges and still commit to my creative practice. During my time in Flensburg, I worked with so many amazing people and participated in countless projects (including two solo exhibitions, and a street art festival that I co-created). It was a very dynamic and fruitful time, but I needed a change and a new challenge, so after I graduated I moved to Leipzig, where I continued my practice, and started exhibiting my work here, as well as in cities like Berlin and Hamburg.



2.     Can you tell us more about the theme in your art and your inspiration?

Collecting inspiration is a deliberate practice, I believe. It stems from curiosity - everything can be inspiring if one is eager to look and listen carefully. So I try to search for it in everything that comes my way. I always liked portraiture, and figurative representation in general, so I use it for my paintings a lot, even though the motives I choose can be very abstract. The works from 2020/21 that are currently being presented at the “Show Your Colors” online exhibition, were influenced by the topic of fungi and technology. These were the years of lockdown, Grimes was singing about Anthropocene, and the world was still fascinated by the slime mold solving mazes and offering solutions to city planning, and I was grieving the death of a beloved person. So the topic invited itself very organically - contemplations about preserving love for someone after they passed found its visual development in the world of fungi. Every living matter will return to the earth to make space for new ones, but our task is to keep pronouncing the names of the deceased ones. So I did it while painting.

But the topic of mortality and loss continued in 2022 when russia invaded Ukraine for the second time.  Nobody chooses to be affected by war. Despite my incredible privilege (I was in Germany when it started), I was terrified and heartbroken -  the russian invasion in Ukraine changed the direction of my art, so I started the series called Divine Wrath. When anger became a lighting bolt inside my body - ready to break out, but there was no outlet other than painting. This series was presented at a solo exhibition in Berlin in December 2022.



3.     Could you share any difficulties and hardships you had to face in life and how or if you managed/overcame them?

I'm still learning, and I mainly trust the words of those who made it far into their careers. I watch a lot of interviews with creatives whose craft I admire - I find them very comforting and reassuring. Mostly they all prove the same point: there will never be the perfect internal satisfaction, and everybody doubts themselves to some extent, and if you feel that art is what you have to do in your life, do it with full conviction. Financial instability, rejections, and other external factors are discouraging, but this is the life we've chosen, and this life is just so ridiculously interesting that I would not wish anything else for myself.


4.     Tell us about your best experience in the art world so far.

I find every project - paid or unpaid, big or small, exciting and important, but of course there are a couple that became real milestones for me. For instance my solo exhibition in Berlin. It was a lovely self-organized event that attracted more people than the room could fit. The people who run the gallery invested a lot of effort into program, so we had live concerts, readings and catering. Such experiences just show how much some people love what they do.



5.     Is the artist's life lonely? Please share your thoughts and experiences.

For me, human connections are the reason why it is even possible to be an artist. I've been blessed with amazing people, who make sure to remind me that I am loved, and they have my back. I used to romanticize loneliness in my teenage years - a predictable but necessary outlook on life, influenced mainly by white male literature, however, I noticed that a lot of the desire to be "lonely" comes from ideas of a misunderstood genius. Later I discovered Brian Eno's concept of 'collective genius', and it struck me with its gentle approach, emphasizing the role of community in art history. Nothing is being created in a vacuum, and humans inspire each other in numerous ways. So that is when I started seeking true community, because mutual support, and reinforcement are essential for creative practice. It is a network of people genuinely wishing well for each other - exchanging open calls and useful sources, visiting each others’ exhibitions and readings. I think humans honestly enjoy being supportive and helpful, and artists are no exceptions.


6.     What are you working on at the moment and are there any upcoming events you would like to talk about?

My most recent project was a collaboration with three friends of mine. All of them write poetry, so we decided to create a zine with their writings and my illustrations. So currently we are searching for funding and opportunities to publish it, but in order to live up to the ambition we have to be patient and make sure that every detail is taken care of. I am also preparing a new series of paintings and sculptures, but since those are still in their early development stage, I cannot reveal much, only that it is going to be a much-anticipated continuation of the "Lovers' Parade" theme and aesthetics.


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