An interview with Artur Matveichenkov

por: Angelina Stevcic

If I feel a slightly arrhythmic state of wellbeing, a spell, that is the only way I have to judge art. Either I feel it or I don’t: quite simple and primitive. And I have found that no matter how much one stresses the importance of books, theories or concepts, in the end, the feeling prevails. Raw art: that’s all there is.

I was impressed with Artur’s work when he showed it to me on his iphone last year at an art exhibit. But seeing his pieces in person at his studio was remarkable. I thought his style evoked something unequivocally beautiful and plain, with a depth of subject and concept totally open to interpretation and an aesthetic completely detached from that of other young artists in the Puerto Rican art scene. In the past few months I have managed to become good friends with him and have to admit he’s quite the conversationalist, like all good artists. So I sat with him out on my terrace and we talked.

Stevcic – How do you conceptualize your work? In what way do you choose your subjects and themes?

Matveichenkov – I don’t conceptualize a painting. The working process is very non linguistic. That is the very part of it that drives me to paint.

Stevcic – Describe your creative process.

Matveichenkov – My painting doesn’t go from line to mass, but totally the opposite; from mass to line. Sometimes it’s like turning a painting inside out. That’s why my paintings don’t have line.

Stevcic – What has been the most challenging factor in the execution of your work?

Matveichenkov – It was the whole transitioning from painting to painting. It was very arduous to just come up with what to paint. It’s so hard to express it because I never think about it verbally. I have to stare at a wall for so long until something starts happening. I try to paint as much from life as possible. And that is extremely difficult because you have spent so much expensive paint!

Stevcic – So you majored in Sculpture. Why the transition into painting?

Matveichenkov – I had a brief affair with sculpture. Painting has always been there. When I was in college in my sophomore year we didn’t have a good painting faculty. I quit painting. The sculpture department had the most intellectual faculty members. At that time I really liked to bullshit. So, I’ve always painted. After my sculpture classes I would go paint instead of doing my sculpture projects. I always viewed painting as a very portable media.

Stevcic – How has your work evolved over the past few years?

Matveichenkov – I always admired really polished painters but I could never do it myself. I was really trying to prove myself. I loosened up with my brushwork. It felt authentic to me instead of borrowed. My painting process is very primitive; it’s not theoretical at all.

Stevcic – Which artists or styles inspire you?

Matveichenkov – One of the first motivations I had for making this sort of consistent work I do now comes from the influence of Robert Gobers. I really like his sculptures and I read an interview with him where he said that at first he wanted to become a painter kind of like Magritte. I would have generally overlooked Magritte, he never impressed me enough to keep staring at a painting, due to its execution. But his imagery was great. So I asked myself: what would Robert Gobers paintings look like if he had continued painting? Because he seems very craft oriented, I think he left painting because of his lack of structure in the painting process. Still, these two artists are a genesis of my artistic vocabulary, kind of.

Stevcic – When we went for a walk the other day, you told me that you want to experiment with graffiti. Where does that motivation come from?

Matveichenkov – It’s just really a need to change the location of a studio. All of my last paintings are based on very particular rooms I’ve inhabited. That stimulated my sense of design. I saw graffiti as a very valid mean of projecting pictures outside. My paintings look like easel paintings. I would have to think very strategically and I would have to consider the audiences too. It would stimulate a pictorial mutation.

Stevcic – Do you see yourself evolving into other media?

Matveichenkov – Not right now, unless the graffiti and expansiveness of scale could be considered other media. I tried working with animation; short sort of quirky bad cartoons, stylistically kind of like Ren and Stimpy. But I couldn’t visualize myself sitting in front of the computer all day, it just wasn’t my calling.

Stevcic – In what ways do you think your work is similar or different to that of other young artists in the local art scene?

Matveichenkov – I am completely out of touch with the local art scene because I lived in New York for a year and there was really nobody I know. I haven’t been here since high school. But I’m going to change that. That’s where the interest in graffiti has emerged.

Stevcic – Tell me about your first solo show this past April at Obra?

Matveichenkov – This body of work is totally finished. I’m not going to continue in this semi consistency.

Stevcic – What was your impression of the Trienal Poligrafica last weekend?

Matveichenkov- Too much to read, with so little to look at. It’s a full time job to keep up with all that written stuff. I should be paid to do that, because I did it for free in college already.

Stevcic – Do you think there is any purpose to art?

Matveichenkov -  I think purpose is utilitarian and I don’t think art is utilitarian or should attempt to be. Art is sort of like evidence that society is becoming affluent enough to flower; to look forward a little bit beyond survival mentality. Art separates us from animals.

Artur Matveichenkov Interiors opened at Obra Galeria Alegria on April 12th and ran through May 11th.

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