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Photo by Olga Kovalenko. All rights reserved

Olga Kovalenko is an artist born in Lithuania in 1988 . She graduated in the Imperial Academy of Arts of Saint Petersburg and in the Minsk Art School AK Glebov. Her paintings show us her inner world expressed through a very personal symbolism that connects directly to nature and the classic mythology. "Under a veil", "Sea in glassfuls", "Temptation" or "Dream bearer" are the door to the point of view of an artist with a very special sensitivity, not far from childhood but deeply mature. Her works have been exhibited in several galeries in solo and collective exhibitions. As a theater artist, she focus her projects as a set and costumes designer exactly with the same spirit as he does with her paintings, plenty of fantasy but deeply linked to reality. She is currently working on the staging of an opera, but for her there is no separation between both activities since all comes from her imagination and one activity is an inspiration for the other one.

What does art mean to you?

Art... It is a revelation... It's a confession of an artist, not just a painter but an artist, a flight of his soul. And such a flight is to be distinguished from just a good craft.

Why did you decide to expresss yourself artistically?

It was a flame of mine since I was a kid. Eventually it became professional. So, it's like I had no other choice.

Which artists are your references?

I have to discover plenty of them. But the representatives of symbolism influenced me the most. I mean Ciurlionis, Redon, Vrubel, Hodler, Moro. They are my kindred spirits for the idea of irreal art, idea of morphing the world of things and the world of ideas is so close to me as it was iwashem. And symbolism is a convention in combining these worlds.

Your paintings have a deep classical influence, also in the subjects that use to be inspired by the classical mythology. What have you found in the classics?

Mythological subjects perfectly fit to the idea of irreal art. I like mythology because it gives me the opportunity to plunge into the mystique of metaform. So the stories I create acquire an allegory with a number of interpretations. And classics...well, myths are classic after all. Eternal themes are laid in them. Classical mythology is archaic and lies at the origins just as scriptural subjects I refer to.

Your paintings use to present a kind of oneiric atmosphere too. Is it your way to express your vision of reality or it is more a kind of fantasy?

That is all my own fantasy. But where is reality? That's another eternal question.

Some of your works are darker such as Seven feet of sorrow and Under a veil which make me think of how difficult is to live in freedom and to achieve our happiness. Do you think that the problem are the social and political limitations, or is more a problem of our own fears? Do you think we are made to be free and happy?

Every person must be happy. All restrictions are only in one's head. My works show only the multifacetedness of human feelings. It doesn't matter if there's a king or 'a man with no regalia'. This topic is abstract.

How do you see the world nowadays? Are you optimistic?

I am. I believe everything is cyclical and art as well. Maybe one day we'll return to classics and a new renaissance will come after the emacsulated ideas of conceptual art... You can never know.

You work also in theater productions. What could you explain us about these projects?

Yes, I'm a theater artist as well. I can note these two kinds of art are merging constantly. Shapes of theater can migrate to painting and vice versa - painting escapes the canvas and fills the theater space. Contemporary art combines different disciplines, directions and genres nowadays. So very unusual and interesting things can turn out as a result. I think there is a great potential in combining things which are not combinable. Such a synthesis I try to use in my works. It enriches and broadens my creation.

Which are the theater projects in which you felt more stimulated?

The theater projects that stimulate me the most are the projects for children (operas, performances, quests). Children are the most honest audience in the theater. Therefore, every time I need to invent new tricks, to surprise, to create something new and interesting.

What are your future projects?

My upcoming projects are the opera "Figaro" by Mozart and "The Ugly Duckling" by Andersen.

Could you tell me a dream that you had while sleeping at night?

I had a dream in which I found myself in a gallery of contemporary art. There was presented some artist and his art-objects. But the most amazing thing is that he represented an art-Roentgen. I pass through this Roentgen and become an absolutely inconceivable formal-suprematic art object. I'm like a living formal art-volume.

An interview by Juan Carlos Romero
Photo by and courtesy of Olga Kovalenko
All rights reserved