Art, // January 20, 2016
Inga Loyeva — ARTIST
Interview with artist Inga Loyeva —
1. Who are you, and what do you do?
I am a Ukrainian-American artist that has been living, training, teaching and making paintings in Europe for the last eight years and very recently moved back to the States. Upon landing in San Francisco I began to explore beauty in aesthetics and am working on a series of paintings about love. I am making portraits of couples that are tender and compassionate towards each other and through these pieces am exploring abstract qualities of mark making and colour. By the end of the first painting I became concerned with diversifying old school cannons of what love looks like and am beginning to paint inter-racial, non hetero-normative couples.
I am interested in capturing affection and love when it comes in diverse shapes, colors, genders, sizes. Consequently people are beginning to approach me with commission requests for capturing in oil paint their deep and tender connections to commemorate civil unions or simply as presents to their loved ones. It is a gift to be painting people’s portraits in this context, simply an honor to witness and work with people’s gratitude and fondness for one another.
2. Why art?
Life without beauty and intellectual pursuit is bleak. I love nature but there’s always a driving desire to create something with my imagination.
3. What is your earliest memory of wanting to be an artist?
I always doodled in classes and challenged my teacher’s assertions that I should be focusing on “more important” activities and studies. In fourth grade some of my teachers started confiscating my doodles and teasing that I am going to make them rich when I grow up and they resell my “early work.”
4. What are your favorite subject(s) and media(s)?
William de Kooning famously said that “flesh was the reason oil painting was invented”. I think he hit the nail on the head. I seems to have a visceral need to discover humanity through painting flesh and oil painting proves itself to be the finest medium for me to do so.
5. How do you work and approach your subject?
My models are typically my friends or people I approach because I see something in their body language that speaks to my particular exploration at that time. As I opened myself up for commissions about that silly little thing called love, people are beginning to approach me. We then arrange a photo session where I share my ideas for the pose and then let the model(s) interpret the concept and my sketches to their own demeanor. I then take the images into Photoshop to work out the general composition/ cropping/ color scheme etc and only then onto canvas. A lot of interpretation and magic happens on the canvas itself but in actuality this stage is typically only 50% of the time and creative energy spent on the project.
6. What are your favorite art work(s), artist(s)?
My favorite artists are interestingly enough not even painters or don’t work in similar aesthetics as I do. The people who’s work I love and I look up to the most are people like Olafur Elliason, Joseph Beuys, Bjorke, Marlene Dumas etc. They march to the beat of their own drums. In terms of artists I look up to Van Dyke, Gustav Klimt and Willem De Kooning right now, this list changes every half a year or so but its typically not very long.
7. What are the best responses you have had to your work?
I love when my work provokes engaging dialogues. I love watching people spend time with my work, just stand there and look at it for a half an hour or so. The best of course is when people buy it and continue preforming the former mentioned activities at home.
8. What do you like about your work?
In terms of process, I love the balance of engaging with people in preparation for the work (models, commissioners, curators, other artists etc) and then I have this beautiful meditative time to myself once I engage with the canvas in the solidarity of my studio. There was a period when I didn’t paint for several months because I was traveling a lot and moving countries and it made me realize how much of a meditative/ spiritual practice this is for me. I then of course love the final object and image. It took me ten years to get here where I actually deeply and truly LOVE the work I make. Most things before 2013 were either strictly academic where I honed the skill or just not good enough. I now am very proud of what I make and happy that it exists in the world.
9. What advice would you give to other artists?
Work hard, play hard and let rejections roll off your back. For every recognition, success or sale the are dozens of rejections. It’s fact of life, get over it.
10. Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
I am now moving towards establishing myself in creating of public art. I am now working on my first large scale, significant mural project. In 5 years I will have realized several more momentous murals and at least 2 immersive environment projects. At the same time I love studio work and will continue developing my private practice. In ten, I will be well known for my work and will live somewhere else, I am already seeing the early stages of that. I don’t know the details, often life happens in ways I couldn’t have possibly predicted or imagined. I like it that way. There’s a surprise around every corner and I enjoy jumping into dazzling adventures and challenges.