Vitaly Medvedovsky for Eyes In Magazine

Out now on EyesIn is an insightful interview with Winsor Gallery artist, Vitaly Medvedovsky. Read it in full below:

Known for his unique way of combining fact and fiction through elaborate strokes of his brush, Ukrainian-born artist Vitaly Medvedovsky is attracting a larger audience with each series of new paintings he produces. From pictures of ordinary life, typical landscape scenery and everyday events, Medvedovsky infuses his imagination in layers until he transforms the realistic image into something almost mythical. He describes the process as an act of “building, deforming, destroying, and rebuilding . . . and mirrors the way human memory, history and time reshape the past.”

It is from his past of growing up in former Soviet territory, with clear reminders of war all around him, that Medvedovsky paints. Just like the layers of his paintings, there are many cultural layers to this paintings. Born in 1981, the Medvedovsky family moved from Kharkov, Ukraine to Tel Aviv, Israel and finally settled in Toronto, Canada. He recalls how the variety of cultures he experienced influenced him and is reflected in his art, a childhood hobby to which he always felt a strong pull. “It always seemed to be a given that art was what I’ll do. I never really thought seriously about doing anything else.”

Vitaly Medvedovsky, Demonstration, 2012

In 2004, Vitaly Medvedovsky graduated from the Ontario College of Art and Design with his Bachelors in Drawing and Painting. Shortly thereafter, the artist was first recognized for his innovative talent and was awarded the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant (2005) and the David L. Stevenson Scholarship (2004). He went on to graduate studies at Concordia University in Montreal, where he earned a Masters of Fine Art in 2009. That same year his art career sprang to life when he was named winner of the Joseph Plaskett Award for narrative paintings.

Since then, Medvedovsky was also awarded the 2012 Toronto Arts Council Emerging Artist Award and his collections of work have been featured throughout Canada, as well as Berlin, Philadelphia and Los Angeles.

In a world of modern art, Vitaly Medvedovsky’s oil on canvas paintings, with their soft tones and blended palettes, remind the viewer of classical work. However, their theme and composition are cutting-edge, revealing the intimate side of the painter who is not afraid to explore the boundaries of the human psyche. There are fantasy worlds fresh from his creative mind, begging for their story to be heard, or, as Medvedovsky describes it, “like a metaphor of memory.”

Vitaly Medvedovsky, Island, 2012

 His collection of work from 2011, aptly titled “Tales from the Outskirts” was inspired from the photos he took of the Berlin street scene. The mix of ancient with modern in everything from architecture to society and the images of man all depict the fine balance that Medvedovsky is able to maintain in his work. It’s a beautiful fusion of the reality we all know and the fantasy we all want to escape into. His paintings provide that experience and leave the viewer wondering what could be.

Now working out of his home in Berlin, Germany, Medvedovsky finds plenty of inspiration for his paintings. “Berlin now is probably what Paris used to be at the end of 19th century; the contemporary art scene is enormous here, with a lot of good art being made.”

 As a child, what did you want to become?
I wanted to be a painter for as long as I can remember (except for a brief spell between 12 and 13, when I thought I could make it as a professional tennis player. It was not to be.)

In which town did you grow up?
I was born in Kharkov, Ukraine and moved with my family to a suburb of Tel-Aviv, Israel when I was nine-years-old. We then moved to Toronto, Canada when I was 16.

Do you think your background has influenced your current art style? If so, what specific element in your background is most pervasive in influencing your current art style?
I moved a lot, both as a child and as an adult, which has made me into a bit of a cultural chameleon, and there are definitely themes from different places that come up in my work. However, I’d say that overall my paintings have an Eastern European “feel” to them, and most of my visual vocabulary still comes from my early childhood.

What inspires you in the job of being an artist?
I wake up every morning and get to do what I love. Painting can be endlessly frustrating sometimes, but there is still nothing else I’d rather be doing.

What intrigues you in the mixture of facts and fiction?
I find it interesting to start with a real place and gradually reshape it until it turns into a strange world that I can truly call my own. Creating these worlds is endlessly intriguing to me.

In which way do you consider yourself an innovative creator?
I think the days of art “movements” and “revolutions” are probably behind us, but every artist is innovative by definition. After all, they are creating something that did not exist before.

Vitaly Medvedovsky, Visitor, 2012

Do you think your artwork is reshaping the past in a certain way?
I don’t think my work refers to a particular time. Each could exist in the past just as well as in the future. I’m interested in history as well as science fiction, and elements of both appear in my work. Especially in my last paintings, I’ve started thinking about time as something non-linear, more like a loop, where the destruction of one thing is always the start of something new.

In which way do you use your art work for story telling?
Although in the back of my mind there is usually a certain story behind every painting, I try to avoid creating a clear narrative, or at least to interrupt it in a way that will allow the viewer to enter the work from their own perspective, rather than forcing something on them.

What has evoked your interest in mythology?
I find it fascinating that every myth has its roots in a real event—either as a description or as an explanation. But myths are ultimately fantasies, and the process that they undergo to arrive at this state is very similar to the one that happens within my paintings. In a way, I’m trying to construct a personal mythology.

You once stated, “You are everything, but also no one at the same time.” Can you explain yourself with this statement?
Ha, this sounds a bit too dramatic. I guess I just meant that moving so much has allowed me to absorb bits and pieces of different cultures, rather than being grounded in one culture or tradition. But I really see this as a benefit.

Which basic elements of creativity did your family teach you?
I don’t really think you can “teach” creativity. You can make a space to allow creativity to happen. My family has been very supportive in creating such a space; they pushed me to broaden my horizons and to be critical and demanding towards myself.

How did you get the idea for creating your artwork?
I don’t really have a clear idea at first. I usually just start with an image of a place or an object that interests me. Then I develop an overall compositional framework and start painting. The works take a long time to complete, between six months to more than a year for some. I also try to keep myself open for as long as possible to changes happening within that framework, until the original vague concept crystallizes into something more definite.

Vitaly Medvedovsky, Tailwind, 2012

Do you have a favorite artist yourself?
I really admire the work of the Spanish painter Antonio Lopez Garcia. He paints things he knows and loves, like his city or his family, working slowly and deliberately on every painting, sometimes taking years to finish one piece. In the sum of his efforts you can almost see Time itself. Another influence is Peter Doig. He is a magician who is able to create eerie worlds out of seemingly ordinary scenes.

Are you ever afraid you will run out of inspiration and creativity in your job?
I think every creative person goes through periods when nothing seems to work, but with time you learn that these are exactly the periods of inspiration, after which the drive always comes back. In a way, these periods are almost necessary in order to be able to look at your work critically. Those who are doing something all the time never have time to think about what they are doing.

What is the most difficult thing in your job?
Dealing with those dark periods. Even though I know in the back of my mind that they will eventually pass, sometimes it can be pretty soul-crushing.

What is the most fun part of your job?
Starting a new painting. It’s like a first trip into an unknown country and the possibilities are endless. Of course, with every brushstroke the number of those possibilities keeps shrinking, but I try to keep the initial openness there for as long as I can.

Do you embrace the changes in the art industry regarding social media and technology influences?
Photography is pretty important to my work, but at the end of the day I’m a fairly traditional painter, poking and scratching a piece of canvas until it starts to make sense.

What do you consider to be your greatest masterpiece?
I don’t think I’ve ever painted a masterpiece. Even with paintings that I’ve been more or less happy with, there were endless things I would have wanted to do differently. But I think this is quite normal for every artist. I get pretty worried if I’m too happy with a particular piece all of a sudden. It’s usually a sign that something isn’t quite right there.

Vitaly Medvedovsky, Helmsman, 2012

Do you have any plans for future masterpieces?
See above. I obviously want to keep improving, but the “masterpiece” will always be the painting I haven’t painted yet.

Do you aspire to collaborate in your creations with an artist from another artistic discipline?
This hasn’t really come up until now. Making art, for me, is a very private thing. I don’t really see myself collaborating with another person. But, of course, this may change.

Do you follow any philosophical or psychological approach in making your art?
I don’t know if this qualifies as “psychological,” but free association certainly plays a role in developing each piece. It’s important to be analytical about your work, but to also sometimes give yourself the freedom to do what feels right, without questioning it too much.

What is your favorite building in the world?
I wouldn’t say I have one particular building that I like, but I’m generally drawn to abandoned places that could be described as formerly futuristic—something that was seen as innovative back in the day, but didn’t quite live up to its potential.

What would be your ideal home?
I will have two—a summer house by a lake in the North somewhere and a winter one on a Mediterranean island. Seems like an ideal plan!

Do you have any dreams for the future?
I’ve been very lucky to be able to do what I love, and my only dream is to be able to keep doing it in the future.