Updated: Jan 21
This week we will be talking to artist and painter Kateryna Bortsova about her approach to painting and how she creates symbolism within her artwork.
Image description: a landscape painting depicting 6 figures in dynamic poses wearing white face paint and theatrical costumes. In bold white text in the centre reads Kateryna Bortsova and below that reads @katerynabortsova.
Can you describe yourself and your practice?
I think that art means confrontation between life and aesthetics. It is a hard struggle for both of them. And the understanding of art is one of the main artist’s working specialties. Regarding the definition of modern art I do not divide art works into mainstream, underground and classics. It is important for me that an art masterpiece should have a response in the audience’s soul. Pictures with such quality will always be up-to-date. As an artist I believe that keeping up with ephemera fashion shall not serve as a factor of artwork modernity. Let me remind you that the way of human civilizations development has a form of curl. Everything new is a well-forgotten old but at the new curve of civilization.
Why do you choose to pursue a practice in painting?
I believe that every work of the artist reflects their inner emotion, then in what mood they are now. If the artist did not leave at least a piece of their soul or emotions in their art, this work is dead. No doubt, works of any artists are totally autobiographic. It is felt in perception of life too, either in inspiration by certain landscapes, impression from journeys or inimitable memories. So with the help of brush strokes, I transfer motion in my works – they can reflect the traffic of the city or the motion of body of the model. And direction of each stroke of paint I always subordinate with general plan of my work. If the composition is dynamic itself, the strokes will also be dynamic and clear.
Kateryna Bortsova, Pieta, acrylic on 3 canvases, 2020.
Image description: a landscape painting split across three canvases. The centre depicts a nude figure holding a woman in his arms, two other figures lay down at either side. All the figures sit on top of a red cross.
Is there a piece of art that you are most proud of creating? Why?
A statement that humans shall study and develop oneself for a whole life impresses me very much. I consider that a talented person is obliged to find out something new throughout their life, to reach new heights. If it ceases to develop oneself it will have nothing more to say to the audience by means of their artworks. At the present moment I continue the path of self-discovery and improvement, so my best work is yet to come.
What is your process for painting?
My creative process has few stages and technical peculiarities. The creation of a picture shall start, of course, from the image of potential work set inside my brain. Images occur in my imagination very often. It can either be inspired by impressions from a movie, a play I saw or by simple communication with any person. Therefore, I often face an opinion that my works are based on any work of literature, but it is not right. The image of a potential picture will not leave my imagination until it is depicted on canvas or paper. Sometimes I have no time for creative works due to my large involvement in other industries. But the idea of a new picture does not leave me and I am eager to set aside some time for implementation in real life.
After the general idea of a new picture appears in my mind I develop all the details thereof inwardly. I make a decision regarding the technique and style of my work, regarding the best compositional conception. Sometimes after thorough thinking I start to make a small sketch, but I do not always do it. My experience showed that the more detailed the image is developed in my mind, the less time and effort I need for implementation thereof. But I also dislike creating one work for a long time. In cases when the work isn’t the same image as it intended to be initially, you should not stop doing it, but only to complete and to leave it away. Maybe in a few months or even years it would have another vision. But anyway you should not remake it again and again, wasting a lot of time and force.
Many of your artworks depict the human figure as well as biblical iconography. Can you tell us why you use this within your paintings?
Today with the development of the Internet and social networks, where the “picture” plays an important role, visual art has received a great opportunity to express and denounce the vices of everyday life. With the help of my works, I want to appeal to the viewer, make them think about modern life. And therefore, for a greater impression, I have chosen these plots and images. And indeed, there are many fakes around us. This situation affects all areas of our lives and should find its echo in contemporary art.
Kateryna Bortsova, Selfie. Vanity Fair, oil on 3 canvases, 260x160x3 cm, 2020.
Image description: a series of three portrait paintings depicting numerous figures poses for the camera. In the centre is a blue deathly figure of a man laying down with a red outline and a wound to the chest. The top left corner reads Fake Reality.
What projects have you recently completed?
In April 2020 I started a series of portraits reflecting the internal state of a person in self-isolation. This period prompted me to create a series of portraits. In them I want to convey my perception of this situation through the images of different people. I continue to work and analyse my inner world, reflecting on external circumstances.
Kateryna Bortsova, Self portrait/ self isolation, oil on canvas, 60x90 cm, 2020.
Image description: a portrait painting depicting a female figure with long blonde hair staring out of the canvas. She wears a back top and a leather jacket, one arm is exposed showing a tattoo on the shoulder.
Why do you make this type of art?
In the life of modern man densely entered expressions with a prefix “Fake”. We hear it from the first persons of the state on TV or read it in the publications of internet bloggers. But each of them puts into it their own understanding. With the help of my work I want to formulate what it means to me, how I see fake reality. Because in the modern world not everything is actually what we think. Many things have different meanings. Sometimes it is difficult to understand the true essence of things now.
What kind of artists influence you the most?
At each new stage of my development, I was inspired by different artistic trends and personalities. These are Impressionists, Pre-Raphaelites and Art Nouveau etc. A modern artist in the age of developing technologies receives a huge array of information. And we all without noticing it influence and inspire each other.
What one thing would you like to change about the art industry today?
Modern consumer society creates fake idols. Even high value ideals and significant guidelines become empty and commercial. As I mentioned above, you and I live in a fake reality. One of the main principles of which are the commercialization of everything and everyone.
Artists everywhere have had to adapt to the sudden impact of COVID-19. Has your practice changed in any way during this time?
Not much, but I would like to share with you my experience of work during the period of self-isolation, especially since it is associated with Spain. I often visit England, participate in an exhibition, and cooperate with galleries. My artwork “Dance of life” was made during the time spent at one of the Canary Islands. This Island is situated far from tourist destinations. So I made this work being in double self-isolation – one – official quarantine; second – geographical and social distance. In this work I displayed an allegory to our life; her cyclic recurrence.
Kateryna Bortsova, Dance of Life, oil on canvas, 120x200x3 cm, 2020.
Image description: a landscape painting depicting 6 figures in dynamic poses wearing white face paint and theatrical costumes. The central figure is draped in feathery white fabric and holds an arm outstretched with a cigarette in hand.
A final message from the artist.
Responses to paintings is very important for each artist. I believe that it artwork functions for the purpose of obtaining such responses. If the artist’s works only stay on shelves and nobody sees them, they die. Of course it is hard to sell or give your own work to anybody else because it is like a child to you. But let it bring happiness to anybody else, let it perform its function – to portray the ideas implemented by the author. Maybe when a spectator watches it, they would think of something more than everyday problems.
You can follow Kateryna's Instagram page @katerynabortsova or visit her website here to see more of her artwork.
If you are interested in being featured as an Artist of the Week you can fill out a short application form here.