Interview by Mariia Kashchenko
Published in June 2022
First of all, how are you? How has your life changed in the last few months?
It is difficult to find a Ukrainian whose life would not have changed because of the war. And I'm no exception. My cardinal changes started even earlier, when my family and I visited Turkey last year and decided that we wanted to live here. We moved in January. So our family was lucky to be physically safe. But morally we all went through shock, rejection, anger and acceptance of the reality of war. At first I couldn't believe it was happening. And it probably took another month for the desire to make art to return.
Silence Watching Blue Above, acrylic on canvas, 40x35cm, 2020
You describe your work as a reflection on the subject of time, please tell me, has your attitude to time changed? If so, why and how?
My works are about transit states, about the unknown and mysterious future. It seems that now these feelings have only intensified. We are all in an unknown amorphous space that resembles a fog - a fog of time.
I think the series "Lost in Time" best illustrates this state
Before the war, my attention was focused on digitalisation - the current transit state of all mankind. I have worked a lot with artificial intelligence and am currently finishing the Deep Dreamed Tales Project. I feel that I need to finish it, put an end to it, in order to have at least some control over the situation in such unpredictable times.
The war will definitely be reflected in my works, perhaps it is already happening unnoticed. In general, I react slowly to events, this is my pace, the only way I can very subtly feel my condition to depict it in art. So I'm not pushing myself. I'm just glad that at least my desire to do something has returned.
The dream factory has stopped, acrylic on canvas, 30x35cm, 2020
How do you think the ideas you broadcast through your art are passed on to the audience? How important is the dialogue with the audience to you?
This is my dialogue with myself. But I am happy when my works also help the viewer to start a dialogue with themselves. I can't look into the viewer's head to see exactly how he or she saw the work. I don't think you should even try to call for something specific. After creation, the work lives its life and somewhere there may be accidental contact with the viewer, which will trigger thoughts or feelings. If it happened, it's great! That is enough and I am the ‘third wheel’ in this dialogue.
Pink elephant in the china shop, acrylic on canvas, 50x40cm, 2020
Do you work now, during the war?
I did not work for a long time. For at least a month. There was nothing I could do. It seemed that in a situation like this, any art lost its meaning. I did not understand why should I continue doing anything at all. But I was approached by several companies from the United States and I gave them my work for sale. In a few days, they transferred more than $5,000 to the Ukraine Aid Fund. It made it a little easier, I realised that I could help through what I do best, my art.
Then I participated in a collaboration with the clothing brand German Apparel in support of Ukrainian refugees. The V-art platform launched the sale of my NFTs in support of Ukraine. And all this finally "thawed" me. I felt that everything would be fine, I felt the desire to create again. Until we lay hands, there is hope. Now it is crucial to do what you can do best. To support the country's economy, to maintain awareness in the world about the war in Ukraine. Views are focused on artists.
Bohdan Svyrydov. Photograph by Garry Efimov
Can you give a clear explanation of the importance of art? For the world in general and for you individually?
Apparently, every artist sooner or later asks himself the question "Why do I make my art? How can it change the world?". Such thoughts can paralyse easily. And they will do it at least once for sure. When I asked myself this question, an acquaintance of mine sent me an excerpt from a book with the words "please, just don't try to save me and the whole world with your art! Do it just to help yourself." I think it's true. Art first of all saves the author himself.
Art does not carry a clear utilitarianism, such as design. It seems that this is the last thing we as a humanity need to survive. But if we want to live a full spiritual life and not survive, it is impossible to live without art.
Bohdan Svyrydov is a contemporary Ukrainian artist, who explores the sense of time through digital and traditional art.
Mariia Kashchenko is the founder of The Art Unit, online curated platform selling works by emerging artists, including works by Bohdan.
If you like this why not read our interview with Peter Doyle.
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