Alina Maksimenko: “The timelessness offers its palette”

Alina Maksimenko: “The timelessness offers its palette”

5 March 2019

Scherbenko Art Center presents the exhibition of Alina Maksimenko “Titles”. We talked about time, subtle feelings and associations from childhood with the artist, who tried to sort out time into abstract and very specific imagery.

 – How can a modern person not lose the ability to see the subtle in the world around?

–    It is difficult for me to answer this question. It, rather, should be addressed to the curator who knows the artist, can describe his work. Talking about ourselves in the subtle category will be immodest and a little weird. I live as I live. I see the world the way I see. Returning to studio from any other space saturated with strangers – for me this is a perfect salvation. I open the door, smell the paint, see the unfinished canvases, and understand that all this is great. This is my air, what I live, what I’m willing to share.

–    The exhibition “Titles” consists of painting and video art. Why do you choose such combination of media for quite a long period of creativity?

–    I can’t say I consciously concentrate on such combination or set myself the task of using specific media. However, telling my story, I choose those words that will be adequate for the story. I need a spatial understatement in painting – it is very attractive for me. Comparing with poetry, I try not to name the subject, but to describe it, give the viewer an opportunity to correlate the image with himself. And video gives narrative, literary understatement. These are two strands that I need to spin my story further. On the one hand, media, like any technical move, is a tool. On the other hand, an idea that, personally for me, passes through hands.

I can’t say and, frankly, I do not believe that I can take a ready-made idea and construct it in a material. After all, some vital things for work arise precisely in the meditative and ritual exploring of the material. Then something appears, that cannot be thought through. And, again, illustrating the idea, artist can face the problem of “non alive” work. When there is an idea, there is visualization, but something more important should still happen so that the work takes place. I recalled the book by Roland Barth “Cameralucida”, which he devoted to his mother. It has the concept of “Punctum”, which the author determines the ability of photography to touch the viewer, which fills the photo with life, gives a hook that will allow the composition to become real, correlated with reality, albeit subjective. You watch how life enters into the work, something incredible happens. The birth of even the smallest and most unprepossessing work is a miracle.

–    Still not seeing the exhibition completely, I thought that the abstract painting, to which you in the “Titers” approached closely, was often compared with music, for example, by Kandinsky. I wanted to talk about the tonality of the project. But it turned out that music is already there.

–    Yes, the video is a recording of the end of Vladimir Tarasov concert. In his words, I would say about the sound at this exhibition. Vladimir noted that it was “a rattling of energy after the concert”. I can’t formulate it better. Unfortunately, it is more difficult for me to define by a word, rather than, by color, light and everything about visual world.

I’m talking about titles. What are titles? This is the finale of something, perhaps, of the musician’s performances, perhaps of entire era (its shadow is visible in Union of Artists corridor, in shots from my video). The history has already been told, and the space begins to change and breaks down into some elements. It’s not an explosion, like a click in our usual understanding, but a stretched, frozen pause. Timelessness.

My paintings are not abstract. Something happens in every bit of the image. Perhaps you have a feeling, a recognition that sends you, as a spectator, to abstraction. Time is surprisingly correlated with image. Nobody knows how it looks, everyone nurtures his own imagery. I’m viewing titles from an old movie, for example, Francois Truffaut of the 1950s, which has survived so many copies that the lines are almost unreadable, run vaguely, keeping only general outlines. You can only guess their content. Titles become a moving wall of decorative elements.

–    But according to their semantics, the titles should also explain something …

–    Just right here the paradox is very attractive for me: yes, titles, according to their purpose, should explain, inform, but with time, like many other things, they lose their original meaning. Perhaps, in place of the lost, appears (should appear) another, new sounding. Also, sometimes we say that time erases triviality from everyday objects. The semantic paradox here is good because it allows us to consider the titles as if from the “other side”, read them as a veil, a boundary.

–    Black, blue, gray – from a position, for example, one of the methods of psychodiagnostics, this color palette is very disturbing, which speaks of an internal conflict. Is there such a conflict?

–    Sometimes explanations are very simple. We’re talking about movies. The blue of the old TV through the movement of the film – it is not alarming, rather, on the contrary – calming. Screen flickering, the lack of a clear image and bright colors – timelessness offers its palette. The film, in this case, can have dramatic content then, probably, the conflict about which you speak is possible.

–    We recall the old movie that returns us to childhood, to sincere emotions. Can we say that with help of such deep associations you lead the viewer to pure sensations?

–    Yes, totally agree with your words. There is a general history, and in it, of course, there is staging, theatricality. Experiencing strong emotions, situations, a person can say that it was like in a movie. Modernity with its own pace, flow of information, models of behavior is such that for a lively response, immediate reaction remains a little space. In an aggressive environment, before the need of protect first of all, a man, I think, increasingly wants to return to himself, to something close – small, private, unique – such as the unique human memory that is born and dies with us. It stores all the most important things, what it is necessary to return to.

–    For me, your creativity is inherent in Kiev, but recently, as it seems from the outside, you moved away from this topic. Is it really?

–    Everything that I do is somehow connected with the Place where I live – Kiev. It can be unrecognizable at first glance, as, for example, in the part of the video where the corridor from Kiev Union of Artists slips. Service post-Soviet premises with their spirit, color and smell – this is also part of the history of this city, and a huge part. It’s just not so much “pictural”, and so general that there is no quick recognition. My conscience is clear – I still describe the space to which I am sincerely attached, which I treasure. The story goes on – I’m shooting, doing new work: Zhitniy market, the old sewing machine and hands of my neighbor Anna Evgenievna, the passage of my front door, the mailboxes are all expensive, necessary.

–    Continue, please, the phrase: what cannot be understood, you can…

–    Feel, first of all. For me personally, a lot of things are easier to understand through work, hands and the way I say. But, again, what is “understand”? What do we mean by this word, if not go through stamps? Are we talking about accepting or correlating with ourselves, constructing or inventing again?.. And let our explanations be absurd, but believable, so that someone else can feel them and agree with them. Then it will be possible to say “understand”, perhaps.