“Nothing in the world has been sold more expensively than works of art!”: confession of an artist who combines the professions of a doctor and an artist

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Solomiya Kovtun is a mysterious and extraordinary personality. After all, she combines two seemingly incompatible professions – an ophthalmologist and an artist. After receiving patients, he rushes to the workshop, where he creates his masterpieces. She took part in various art projects, plein airs, group and personal exhibitions in Ukraine and far beyond its borders. And together with the designer Olesya Hryna, they created a collection of clothes that was included in the top ten shows of the fashion week

Where do artists draw inspiration during the war, what is the peculiarity of their world and how do ordinary people treat art in our difficult times? She revealed all these secrets Espresso. West Solomia.

Solomia, when did you wake up with the desire to draw? Do you remember your first works?

My parents said that I was a calm and sedentary child. So I drew constantly – both in kindergarten and at school. She even went to drawing Olympiads. Mom and dad often gave my creations to their friends. I remember how in my early childhood Mykolay brought me a white pig. I was so comforted that I decided to draw her. This work is the first in my memory. Then the bears were added. However, as the daughter of doctors, I entered the Lviv Medical University. She moved from her native Chervonograd to the city of Leva. And…fell in love with Lviv. While studying in the 1st year, she broke her right arm and had to stay at home. She missed the atmosphere of the ancient streets so much that she depicted Rynok Square with her left hand. And later, a friend gave me a canvas and paints. Then she created her first serious work – a gate on the street. Armenian I liked it so much that I made several copies of it. Apparently, that’s when it all started…

But despite the crazy passion for drawing, you still became a doctor… Why did you decide to combine medical activity with art?

I like medicine, so I work in the specialty. But I confess: if I didn’t draw, I would go crazy at this job! (laughs) Treating people is a difficult and responsible business. Even at night, patients do not leave their heads. However, in our country this profession is low-paid. I jokingly say that I work on a volunteer basis. Therefore, I can say that medicine and art are a symbiosis of two professions: they seem to feed each other. These are completely different fields, and I like this change of activity. Ophthalmology requires you to be in constant tonus, to feel adrenaline. And thanks to drawing, I seem to be transported to another world, which helps to disconnect from the real one. This is a kind of meditation. There are no protocols and rules here. You can paint with a brush or by hand. Creativity liberates from the framework, allows to experiment. It is so fascinating that sometimes I can draw all night and not notice how the dawn comes…

What themes predominate in your work?

I work in the genre of subject painting. I draw what I love. Everything that catches your eye, you want to transfer to the canvas. I already said that I am in love with Lviv, so many of my works are dedicated to local architecture. During exciting travels, she depicted the sea, mountains, horses… I make so-called histological sketches. That is, he transferred the histological preparations into painting, preserving the structure of tissues and cells, giving them a different color. In these paintings, she combined medicine and art. People who have nothing to do with medicine see abstractions and put their meaning into them. It is interesting to watch their reaction and feel this energy return.

What exactly inspires you to be creative?

Probably the mood and the weather. For example, I am much more productive on a sunny day. And the winter cold and fog are not inspiring. I never work in a bad mood. Although painting for me is not a job, but a thrill. I do not paint to order. For me, this is a productive rest, a higher level of relaxation. The very thought of having a workshop and being able to come and paint there at any time inspires me. Exhibitions of other artists also encourage creativity. Sometimes I create something spontaneously. And it happens that the theme of the future painting seems to suck: it does not leave my head until I realize it.

It may seem strange to some, but even painting the walls brings pleasure. I always do it alone at home. And all because the brushes and rollers are mine. I also like the process itself. The smell of the paint, its feel on the hands – give pleasure and inspire.

The life of artists has always been shrouded in mystery and charm. How does it really differ from everyday people?

In fact, each person is different from everyone else. In my opinion, the difference is in views and values. But it’s probably not about the profession. An artist may have very grounded views, while a miner has broad and extraordinary views. In my opinion, the difference between artists is that they are aesthetes. They perceive the world visually. Our peculiar motto: “Beauty will save the world!” It charges us like a battery. Therefore, there is a need to visit theaters, listen to good music, be in nature and expand your horizons in every way. It is good to surround yourself with good things and impressions. Of course, this is reflected in clothes and general values. To stay in good artistic shape, you need to develop yourself creatively. So you have to periodically go to plein-air exhibitions, go to exhibition openings, talk to other artists in order to know their point of view.

Nowadays, artists have the opportunity to earn only through creativity? How do they sell their works and is there a great demand for them? Especially now – in wartime?

For most artists, creativity is the main source of income. They find their niche and sell masterpieces with the help of the Internet. They use all possible methods – virtual and ordinary galleries, international sites, exhibitions… They also paint to order. Earlier, the demand was much higher. Quarantine and war have done their dirty work. Therefore, there are no queues for works of art, but art galleries, like the artists themselves, do not remain without work. Tourists are more interested in the souvenir level. Serious works are more often bought by collectors from Lviv and Kyiv.

What are the requirements for modern art? Are there popular or “forbidden” topics?

There are no prohibitions in art. This is exactly the area in which you can express yourself to the fullest. The fact is that many ultra-modern directions are quite provocative, not everyone will understand and appreciate them. For example, not everyone will appreciate avant-garde and installation. Many people like salon art, in which everything is beautiful and clear from childhood. Although, creating your masterpiece, you never know whether there will be a demand for it among buyers. Otherwise, all artists would be millionaires. This is the true value of masterpieces – artists should create what they like, not buyers. The price of the work, first of all, depends on the technique, the hand and the name of the artist. Therefore, it is for him that you need to work. For example, to participate in exhibitions so that you are seen and known. Some are promoted by managers and PR people. In general, art is a kind of magic. Nothing in the world has ever sold more expensively than works of art.

Ukrainian designer Olesya Hryn used your works for one of her collections – “Horizon Line”. How and why did this idea come about?

Once I shared my dream with her – since childhood I wanted to go on the podium. However, it turned out that I am too short for a model. So contributing my works to her collection is the only way to make my wish come true. That is why the designer transferred my paintings in an abstract style to clothes. It was silk-screen printing – that is, printing a picture on fabric. At the end of the show, I finally fulfilled my dream – I went to the podium together with Olesya. (Laughs). And things from the collection were in great demand among consumers.

Is there competition between artists, and how do you overcome it?

Competition is a human factor. It all depends on how sensitive a person is to this phenomenon. Most artists try not to compete, but to be friends with each other and to be inspired by the example of others. Competition should stimulate. When you see someone else’s success, you want to work harder and look for opportunities to prove yourself. Each artist creates in his own individual style. For example, icons or mountains popular in our region are all depicted differently. Therefore, there are no real reasons to compete. Each of us has a specialty and talent. So it is important to move forward.

The war affected all spheres of life, introduced many changes and corrections. What about art?

Probably, art in war or war in art are historically known and, so to speak, “normal” things. This is simply a change in the artist’s work environment or stay. But it is psychologically difficult for me to create in the current conditions. I don’t know how other artists do it. It may take more time to adapt to the new reality. During the first weeks of the full-scale invasion, she did not go to the workshop at all. Then, all the same, she started work, worked on it for a long time. According to the plan, there should not have been a hint of war in it, but it did not turn out that way. Ideas, pictures, colors are constantly spinning in my head, which cannot be released for a long time. Perhaps, in this way, the subconscious refuses to create, so that in the future my paintings do not remind of this terrible time. However, I unblock this creative crisis every time, because I understand that everyone has their own front. So my works will be a kind of contribution to the victory, because thanks to them you can help the Armed Forces, and also leave history for posterity.

All photos were provided by Solomiya Kovtun

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