Yuliya Stratovich paints captivating and vivid images of Nordic landscapes and scenery, predominating represented in jet-black primers and strong bright contrast. These are places she has never been to but of which she dreams of and longs for. Dynamic mountain landscapes and wide oceans characterize her creative work. In the interview, the young artist reveals how her creative process has changed over the years, what the motives she paints mean to her and how she managed to cling to art even during harder times.
The Path 2017
When did you start painting?
Since childhood, from the age of three, I clearly remember it. I grew up in a very creative family, my father is an artist. At that time, pencils and paintings were my only toys, because we were not rich, but very promising! But I always liked it, I would say that it was the only thing that ever really interested me. And with time, at the core my passion remains the same.
Has your work changed over time? Are there any other motives, new techniques that have influenced you along your creative path?
Of course, a lot has changed. I've been searching for my material for a long time. Because that is the most important part - to find the tools you want to work with. Perhaps one is able to paint with any material, but there will be this special one that you will feel real “kinship” with.
Since my childhood, I was inspired by Aubrey Vincent Beardsley, and I thought I was a graphical artist. But over time, this has started to appear to me as too decorative. Although, I still find incredible elegance in ink. Then, I mastered the pastel and used it for a long time. I mainly painted nudes as I am enchanted by the human body which is so beautiful in its imperfection.
Then there was quite a long crisis, in which I found Conrad Godly's work, and I believe that this artist opened me up again and brought me back to life. I realized that I wanted to try what he was doing, I wanted to try working with a palette knife and that it was and is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. And goodness, it was a great decision! Because the way I paint now is quite different to what it was before; I want to convey completely different things, I love working with acrylics and textures, and over time I have gained a deeper understanding of what I'm doing. But it was him who gave me a second life.
Why did you specialise in the motive of wide, nordic landscapes? What makes them so interesting to you? How did you decide that this is what you want to paint?
I also thought about this question for a long time. Because every day I try out other materials, scenes and styles. But, I always go back to the mountains, the seas and the snow. I have carefully pondered over this, and I think that every artist paints him/herself; just as the materials he/she uses also “look like him/her” (I have a whole theory about this!). I'm very young and I do not have an extensive, complex or extreme life experience, to share it through my work. But, in every painting I place little figures of people, on the beaches or in the mountains. And I wondered where did they come from? And then I realized that it was me! All of the mountains and the harsh north I paint are a metaphor for life, all the peaks are the goals we strive for every day. I always imagine myself a fighter, the tiny person in the painting; it helps me to move forward.
Do you see yourself painting different motives in the future?
For sure. I change, life changes, experience accumulates. It is only logical that this will lead to something new. I really want to eventually have the opportunity to say something global with my art and say it through highly mastered techniques, so that it will be understood.
Which tools do you employ in your works and which ones do you use most often, and why?
I paint with acrylic and palette knifes. I love the density of acrylics, the fact that you need to work with it very quickly and it does not give you second chances - you definitely need to know what you want to do. It dries very quickly, and it's perfect for me, because I also hate waiting. Palette knife is my love - the textures, volume and a thousand effects you can achieve with it is incredible. All the “brutal” that is in me, it expresses it on canvas. This is self-expression through a palette knife.
You studied contemporary art at the European Humanities University. What was the most important lesson you took from your time at the university and how has this helped you as an artist?
The most important thing is that it has changed my view of art and taste. It must be taken into account that I grew up in a post-Soviet country where the view of art and traditions is completely different from European ones, where the spirit of the Soviet Union is still strong. All is a lot more academic and conservative. I grew up with the albums of Caravaggio, Semiradsky, Vrubel and this also influenced me greatly. And must not forget my father's vision, which has affected me greatly.
When I was studying "Theories and Practices of Modern Arts", I basically worked with what I did not accept. I think that at that time I did not fully understand all of it. But it had changed something in me. And I remember the moment when I recognized and accepted in myself that I love minimalism and constructivism. That these simple forms and lines are in tune with me. That feeling when you look at something and feel an incredible feeling of gratitude for its beauty. I still argue about this with my dad. But I sincerely believe that the beauty is in simplicity.
How do you inspire yourself with the vision of yourself in the future?
I'm inspired to present myself as an artist who works and grows every day. Who constantly tries something new and develops their skills. An artist who does not expect inspiration, but daily battles with himself to grow. And when inspiration comes he is ready technically to embody and express it on canvas. Maybe even somewhere in the Straight edge, to stay as long as possible and be able to draw. If you are an artist, you will never be sure of tomorrow. And that's why you should do everything to make sure that you always have money for materials to draw. Because painting is life.
What are the biggest difficulties you have faced as an artist and how did you go about dealing with them?
My biggest difficulty was my father, because he did not want me to be an artist. He wanted something more stable and reliable for me, in general he thought that I could not manage it. It was an endless conflict, so I decided to move to another city. There was a moment of crisis, when I could not imagine that I would paint again. The hands were as if they were not mine! I then went into floristry and landscaping, set up a studio, to realize my creative potential at least through some means, because it’s important to keep the flame going.
One day a book called "The Artist's Way" came into my hands and it pulled me out. There were also moments of self-doubt but then friends and family supported me, saying that “everything works out well, just please keep going”. Although of course, it didn’t all always go as planned! But all these difficulties were normal on the path of self-discovery as an artist. Now, when something in my technique isn’t going the way it should, I just keep trying until it works out.
What inspires you? Do you have periods of times when you feel a lack of inspiration? What do you do in such times?
I am inspired by modern artists such as Ricardo Galán Urréjola, James Somerville, Kim English, Conny Niehoff, Simon Kenny, Lynn Boggess, Jeremy Mann, Douglas Fryer and my favorite Paul Bennett.
About 50% of the time I feel the lack of inspiration to be honest! I just work every day and that all, this is the way that my father has taught me. Sometimes this (inspiration) happens so suddenly, you must be ready for it.
When it gets too bad, I like to switch for a day to ceramics, floristry or teaching one of these topics, it usually helps. And most importantly just keep “looking” and “seeing” as much as possible around you and try to notice the beauty and feel gratitude for it.
What’s your philosophy on art?
Beauty is in simplicity.
But I create because I can’t not do it, not because I can. So, there is no special philosophy really!
Thank you for the interview.
The Foam of Days 2017