F.L.: Hello! Please, introduce yourself.
YOD: Hello! I am an artist YOD.
F.L.: YOD is an alias right?
YOD: The artist is always an alias or, one might say, a kind of a prototype of the individual, even if he works under his real name.
F.L.: Where are you from?
YOD: I live between France and Russia. More often in Russia, in Saint Petersburg, in the last couple of years. Pretty good climate…
F.L.: How did you begin? How or why did you decide to dedicate your life to the art?
YOD: I began in children’s art school, that’s where my mom took me. And of course I did not finish it, after all, such institutions are not made for children at all. But still, a couple of years later I realized that I am an artist. This is a very interesting inner experience, as I see it, it’s comparable to the feeling of realization of your own sexual identity. Enrolled in secondary art school. Then there was this Art Institute in St. Petersburg, and a few years later the second one in France. I have never planned to twist fortune with the art. It was the art that absorbed me. As a child, I thought it was pretty handy to be able to draw and use this advantage to get good school grades. Any kind of work with a beautiful cover instantly stuck out of the crowd, and despite the skimpy content, teachers would never raise a hand to criticize it. I just had no other choice as an adult. In my case, art is simply an acute dopamine dependence. Its absence drives me to depression which already begins to develop during the second week.
F.L.: What art technique do you practice? What has inspired/is inspiring you?
YOD: I do paint, but I work in the manner of mixed media incorporating digital sculpture and traditional colorful painting. It seems to me that with the advent of the digital era, painting has received a new impulse for the development and again, has all the chances to become a truly relevant art form. Initially, my voxel portraits were created manually. Technically, the process was too complicated and at the final stage it had a too simple visual impact, insufficient for me to make the desired impression on the audience. Then I began to look for technology that would help me add the visual carbohydrates and I turned to digital sculpture. It was the one who brought my painting to a new level. The work became a more coordinated visual aesthetics. I often told that my paintings are screwing their brains and I like it! A man’s brain should be screwed right from the looks of the modern man.
Also, I often hear that my visual style reminiscent of Minecraft. Someone sees the influence of constructivism in it, purely Russian tradition of art. Both may be true, but I, in turn, feel my inner relationship with David Hockney and Edward Hopper. Hockney was the first who realized and delivered the straightness and linearity, which a modern man surrounded himself with. Regarding Hopper, I most appreciate the feeling of loneliness and nothingness of a confined space that people trapped themselves into, of the things they created. Hopper’s person is a small fish in the aquarium. In my opinion, Hockney and Hopper complement each other very well.
My painting is also about oblivion, unconscious detachment, boredom and loneliness of modern man. But I’m trying to overdo this kind of perception or even bring it to the point of absurdity, turning a person himself into an object; a frightening image made of blocks and absolutely without smoothness, that in essence, belongs to all in our surrounding world. It is an image of the new man and advanced, delightful, true and “simple” world.
F.L.: How long have you been painting? How long in this style?
YOD: Generally speaking, I started painting when I was eight years, but in the foreground, at least 3–4 times a week — that is age fourteen, the time of my enrolling in the secondary art school. At school, I had 2 painting and 2 drawing lessons per week + 1 graphic design lesson. In 11 grade, when I was 15 years old, 5 additional evening classes per week were added. This is for to make it into the institute. In other words, I had to do a lot of drawing in my teenage years. In adulthood, I painted some time mostly using the digital tablet. This was because I worked as a graphic designer. Then I studied the painting itself and illustration at the same time. In 2016 I decided to break up with the design and illustration and dive into visual art. At that time, my visual art style was born. I was searching for it for about 10 years, but it could not materialize itself. And at the moment when this happened, I decided to get rid of everything that was of lower value for me.
F.L.: What’s your favorite masterpiece in your creative artwork?
YOD: My favorite work is the one that I have not made yet, but I’m sure that very soon I will do that. I feel that I am coming very close to it. From the already existing ones, perhaps the “Holy” (Saint) is more likable. It is the only picture that placed at my home. Visually it is more pixel graphics rather than voxel modeled picture, maybe not my typical style. But it is crucial for me that it’s an icon. Probably, it is the only reason why I hung it up. It is essential for a Russian to have an icon at home, same as having toilets. At the same time, religious beliefs do not play any role here.
F.L.: Do you have any side projects?
YOD: Side projects are parallel projects? Sorry, sometimes I am bad at understanding Russian. If so, there are a lot of them. They give me financial independence from the art, which is good. I have assets in real estate. Periodically I do graphic design and illustration (increasingly rare). This summer I am planning the first season of French summer camp for the children, and I am already making a program of its artistic development. In a year or two, I hope to open a private school in Petersburg just like Montessori, and actually, a simple place, where the children will not be greeted by marks or inadequate knowledge. I have a young daughter, and I don’t wish to spend her childhood in inactivity, in stuffy classrooms, being subject to different requests of not so intelligent adults, as it was in my life.
F.L.: What is art in the modern world? Does it have a perspective, or are we witnessing its fall?
YOD: I’m afraid my answer here will be quite common. To talk about the fall of the art is to talk about the dawn of it. Any thoughts about the apocalypse and the collapse of all beings have haunted the humanity since its birth. In fact, art is difficult to kill. Art is a form of release of the protesting, elegantly spoken by the word “Dick”. For someone who creates art, it is essential to express it, and it is important to understand it for the one who makes use of it. Therefore, the art will die only together with the humanity.
F.L.: What do you think of the “illegal” art (street art, bombing, sticker art, etc.), as well as to academic art?
YOD: The art cannot be illegal. It possesses a certain degree of inner freedom that cannot be squeezed into the framework of the civil procedure code. Street art, as an art movement, to my lesser extent of interests, has a strong populist role. A typical example is Banksy. Today, he personifies himself as a very fashionable movement in the West, a trend based on low intellectual communism with non-marksism sense, which professes a class struggle (it’s 2019) and agitates for all of the good against all the bad! In order to understand what I’m talking about, you can watch a documentary film called “Dinner with Banksy”. But I really like the street art of the Russian artist named Vladimir Potapov, although it is hard to call this a street art in its original form. It’s a kind of a mix with contemporary art, very subtle and intelligent. This kind of approach is closer to me.
About academic art: academic art no longer exists. This concept remains behind in the 19th century. If you mean the neoclassic visual school which is close to realism and at some places still popular among us, it could be interesting only for psychoanalysts. It is irrelevant to art. In the whole, in the world of modern painting, there is another interesting phenomenon: a denial of the ability to be able to draw. Today, we have the most popular pictural school — the abstraction. As to the second main topic, I would like to address to the so called “painting-blottesque”, for example, blurred faces in portraits. Every “second and a half painter” does this today. The refusal of drawing skills is a very interesting trend. On the one hand, this is due to the protest against the sickeningly sweet and indoorsy art of the 19th century; on the other, due to the advent of a new types of art in the 20th century, such as performance, media art and others; and the third, the ability to break through the information noise. For the modern artist of today, it is more important to possess the art of scandalous behavior than to have visual literacy.
Read it in Russian
Translated by Maxim Puhov