Updated: Mar 24
Julia Levanshyna is an artist from Belarus who discovered her talent as a child. For a long time, Julia perceived her art exclusively as a hobby. But fate decided otherwise, a series of difficult events forced her to look deep into the subconsciousness. Having rediscovered her artistic talent, Julia began to paint professionally. Defining her work as metamodernism, the artist seeks to transfer the viewer to a utopian fantasy world.
How to draw inspiration from your subconscious, how painting can replace a visit to a psychotherapist and cope with difficult life situations, how metamodernism stands out in contemporary art, you will learn about this in a new interview with the artist.
Yuliana Arles: In a rapidly changing modern society, people have to face daily pressure, stress and fear of the unknown. During contemplation of your artwork, the viewer seems to be transported into a completely different reality, where harmony and peace reign, where the dullness and routine of weekdays is replaced by the beauty and bright colors of fantasy.
When you are creating your artwork, do you purposefully seek to evoke this kind of emotional response from the viewer? Do you put any specific meaning in your paintings, or do you prefer to completely leave the right for interpretation to the viewer?
Julia Levanshyna: In my opinion, the emotional reaction of the viewer is very important, which is why I strive to catch and keep the audience's attention on my artworks. What emotions will arise within the viewer, whether the reaction to a work of art will be instantaneous or after a deep reading of the picture, what meaning the observer will read in it depends exclusively on individual perception. This is a whole magic of contact with art. The picture can be one, but each viewer will have their own interpretation of it. I believe that at the final stage I have no rights to interfere in this process.
Yuliana Arles: In a relatively short period of time, you have already developed your own recognizable painting style. How can you characterize it?
Julia Levanshyna: I agree that there is a certain manner of depiction in my artworks. Just as far as the specific name of the style, it's hard for me to characterize it.
In my opinion, paintings appear first, and then art historians and other experts come up with a name for a style or even a whole direction in art.
If you try to attribute my art to the already existing artistic styles, then I would say that it is a mixture of primitivism, fusion and metamodernism. I really like the last one. The essence of metamodernism encompasses the process of reviving sincerity and hope in our society. In my opinion, this is exactly what the modern viewer needs. Tired of the irony and hopelessness of modernism, yearning for a return to simple and eternal truths.
Yuliana Arles: In your works, a special impression is made by a bright saturated, I would even say psychedelic sour color, surprisingly possessing a certain calming hypnotizing effect. How did you choose these shades of colors? What materials do you use?
Julia Levanshyna: These colors fascinate me with their brightness and expressiveness, which is why this color palette prevails in every piece of art I create. I also like to combine them with black, in contrast to which they reveal their character even more vividly. In terms of materials, I love working with acrylics, especially acrylic markers.
Yuliana Arles: Where do the plots of your paintings come from? Where do you get inspiration for their creation?
Julia Levanshyna: Most often, the images and plots of my paintings come to me in a dream or in a half-asleep state, when the brain relaxes and opens the subconscious.
Our consciousness has a very interesting ability to remember all the details of what we see and what is happening around us. What we think is long forgotten or what we are not paying attention to at all, everything is recorded and stored in our subconscious. Our dreams are like the reproductive mechanism of this hidden data. This is much more and deeper than the usual understanding of the mind.
Yuliana Arles: Tell us about the beginning of your creative activity? How did you discover your talent, and what contributed to its development?
Julia Levanshyna: I discovered my artistic talent at a school age. At that time, I considered painting only as a hobby and this went on for almost all of my adult life. First, I developed my abilities at art school and then at university.
In this subtle, graceful science, you should be lucky with a teacher who allows you to reveal your entire inner world and transfer it to the canvas. Unfortunately, I have never had such a teacher, so I did not graduate from university. I chose my own path of self-study and self-development.
Over time, I found myself in the hotel restaurant business, and at some point it seemed to me that I was in my place. But fate had other plans for me. Any world in which we feel comfortable can be attacked by events that we have no control over.
I will remember the summer 2020 as a new start to my artistic career. That's when I burned out at work, and this was accompanied by daze, discomfort and an inner cry that no one hears. This summer the terrifying events took place in my beloved country. Until now, the Belarusian people are struggling with the dictatorial regime.
Everything inside me turned upside down. At this moment of despair, I opened the door to my subconscious. I realized that only drawing, which I have always considered a hobby, can help me heal. That is how art became my professional activity.
Yuliana Arles: The work "Sunrise" exudes an aura of calm and tranquility. Smooth, rounded lines convey all the nuances of a balanced composition. Please tell me where the topic of spirituality come from? Does this picture convey your inner state? Are you doing some kind of spiritual practice?
Julia Levanshyna: There was a time when I studied the art of yoga, attended seminars and read wise books about mantras and various techniques for expanding consciousness. I also tried to practice meditation.
As for the painting "Sunrise", it more conveys the state that I would like to achieve. The artwork was made at the end of March, when my husband and I moved from Belarus to Poland. We stopped in Warsaw. The first days I was in deep emotional shock due to the stress I experienced. A new city, country, language, an absolute lack of understanding of what will happen next and how to find my place here, all this stunned me.
The idea of this picture was born instantly, and the process of creation for me was equated with a session with a psychotherapist. This is, perhaps, the only work of mine with a definite history and inner meaning.
Yuliana Arles: In some of your work, such as "Woman on the beach", "Lovebirds" or "Flamingo" there is a tendency towards depicting only parts of the female body. Is there any hidden symbolism in such a kind representation of the female image?
Julia Levanshyna: I cannot say that there is any specific symbolism in such an image.
For me, this kind of game involves shapes. I would like the audience to focus their attention on this particular part of the body, as if viewing the image through a magnifying glass.
Yuliana Arles: Can you tell us about the surreal portrait of William Seward Burroughs, American screenwriter of the second half of the 20th century? How did the idea for its creation come about and why?
Julia Levanshyna: The idea came from a friend of mine, for whom the work of this writer is more than just books. I tried to convey the image of the writer that arose in my imagination on the basis of his biography.
Yuliana Arles: Your work is permeated with mystery and magic, it reflects the colorful world of fantasy and dreams. What are you dreaming about?
Julia Levanshyna: After everything that I have experienced, I dream of finding inner harmony. I dream that someday people will wake up and make peace on our planet a priority, leaving behind their lusts and sick ambitions.
Yuliana Arles: What advice can you give to other artists who have the same creative souls as you?
Julia Levanshyna: Don't compare yourself to others. Develop! Try new things, but never compare!
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