CH.89: If you were to categorize or describe the style of your artwork, what would it be and why?
MP: I have different bodies of work – and I make both paintings and sculptures. The overarching theme of my work is the human body, face, and color. I have been interested in observing and depicting humans since I was a child. It’s still the subject that interests me the most. Both my painting and sculpture have a varying degree of abstraction/figuration push and pull, but the human body element is omnipresent.
CH.89: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
MP: Some of my works/ series of work are inspired by certain photographs or movie stills, (as a starting point). The end result is always infused with my own emotions at the time of creation, and it usually differs from the original source material. My other series of works stem from my automatic line drawings and automatic clay sculpting. They are usually spontaneous, impulsive, and somewhat unconscious. They also usually reflect the larger themes that interest me generally or preoccupy my mind locally at that time.
CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about what your creative thought process is like when starting a new project/ piece of artwork?
MP: My creative thought process depends on what I am working on. In sculpture, almost all of my work originates from small (3-4 inches max) clay figurines that I make while talking to friends in social settings. It’s usually when I make my best work, as it forces me to relinquish control/full focus of the solitary studio environment. Doing work in social settings both stimulates my mind and allows me to create more freely and to have a more natural flow of unconsciousness. Then the most successful clay sculptures get enlarged and painted. The photo-based paintings usually start with finding a compelling image online that I can channel myself through or it somehow resonates with me. The result is usually unpredictable. Then there are automatic line drawings, and the most successful ones turn into paintings. Sometimes I skip the drawing part and go straight to the canvas.
CH.89: Is there anything in particular that you would want people to take from your artwork?
MP: I want people to be moved or enjoy the work. I think the goal of most artists is to have an impact on the viewer and to create something memorable. Indifference is probably the worst.
CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about your lifestyle as an artist and what that is like?
MP: Lifestyle of an artist is definitely challenging, and in my case, it’s also compounded by the fact that I am an immigrant, which makes everything double challenging. Overall I make sure that art totally governs my life – so every decision that I make starts and ends with – “is it good for my art and my art development?”, rather than “is it good for me,?” which is often not the case. This approach to life defines all my personal and professional decisions – big and small. It’s also the reason I moved to NYC specifically. I think this attitude is probably the only way to make sure that art doesn’t fall into decline, and it keeps flourishing.
CH.89: When starting out an artistic task, do you think it is better to have a particular direction/set plan guiding your way? Or, is it better to act on impulse and go from there?
MP: I think it’s important to have a good general understanding of your own work process and conditions/material settings/framework that allow you to create your best work. Then, in my case, the end result is always based on the impulse – kind of a creative instinct that comes from within and is hard to define or control consciously. It’s often a response to whatever is happening on the canvas, in clay, or in my life in general. But after the impulsive stage passes, I often spend a lot of time analyzing its results and seeing how I can improve and grow on it.
CH.89: What is one major lesson you’ve learned as an artist thus far?
MP: Trusting yourself and looking inside yourself for answers, not the outside. There are a lot of outside influences and noise, especially in a city like New York, and of course, it’s important to know what’s happening in the art world and be very up-to-date professionally. But the most important thing is to find what is completely unique to yourself as an artist, what really moves you, and what’s your strongest thing artistically and creatively. I often look back to my childhood and adolescence, because the things that interested me the most then are still the things that I am most interested in now and I am best at.
CH.89: Do you regard personal style & taste to be of highest importance?
MP: The highest importance is always art. I think that personal style is somewhat minor but nevertheless, it is still an interesting way of self- expression for me personally. It took me a while, but I realized that fashion is also a type of art, and it is definitely a way of self-expression in the everyday environment. My personal taste is definitely very important to me- as I am also a curator, and I realize that I judge my own works and the works of others based both on my accumulated knowledge and taste. There are things that I wouldn’t wear, and art that I wouldn’t show in my curated shows, though I realize that some might find them delightful.
CH.89: What do you consider to be the hardest thing about being an artist?
MP: Probably the hardest thing is that most people don’t understand or like/care about visual arts, and they generally don’t understand why you are doing what you are doing – because being an artist is a strange and very specific way to go through life – that often puzzles people. In fact, most people value art only as a commodity (once and if it reaches that level) to augment their social status and bring financial returns. And then there is a time lag between making art and that art being seen in person by wider audiences and being truly appreciated. That gap can sometimes take years or even decades. I also think that truly great art is always in the future, and it is seen best from a distance of time, often when the creators are not here any longer.
CH.89: What is one thing you love about being an artist?
MP: Art elevates you from the mundane, and it can overcome physical limitations – be it geographic location, gender, race, space, time, cultural barriers, language, or our own lifetime. In fact, art can transcend all these boundaries – as any museum visitor can attest while looking at sculptures made 2000 years ago, paintings done 600 years ago, etc.
CH.89: Is there anyone in particular, any artist’s that inspire you in any way?
MP: I am inspired by all good artists because I realize what a commitment it takes to realize one’s vision. I do like Van Gogh because I think the pure passion that he generated in his art, and his selflessness/commitment are remarkable. Plus, he is a brilliant colorist. I have great respect for Michelangelo and the monumental timelessness of his work. I also generally really love antiquity and Greek sculptures.
CH.89: What do you think of technology in terms of being a useful tool for artists today?
MP: Technology is amazing, and it’s a great tool for artists. I use it extensively. In sculpture for instance – there is a barrier to entry because the sculpture fabrication costs are prohibitively high. I make all my sculptures myself- I have two 3d printers, I learned 3d modeling, etc. All my tiny hand-made sculpture models get 3d scanned via 3d scanners designed for space exploration, and once I get my works scanned I start working on them – bringing them to printing, then extensive post-processing, painting, etc. It’s still very DIY technology for the type of equipment that I own at home, and there is a high percentage of failures for every print, but being able to realize my tiny sculptures at a large scale is amazing. In fact, I feel like I run a small manufacturing facility when I run all my 3d printers for days in conjunction with 3d modeling and post-production. I also do a lot of digital renderings in photoshop and various other graphic applications. Sometimes these renderings become the starting point for oil paintings.
CH.89: Do you think being an artist allows you to view the world differently from those who don’t follow creative paths?
MP: I think I started viewing the world differently once I made a definitive decision of becoming a professional artist at 19 years old and dropped out of Moscow State University. (That being said I always wanted to be an artist since I was a child, but my family didn’t think it was a viable path.) For me personally becoming an artist changed my perception of time. I realized it very acutely. Most people have a perception of time that’s firmly based on their average projected life expectancy, even if they don’t realize it. It’s the main time unit. And there are usually certain milestones that they want/plan to achieve within that time frame. I think art changes that perception. I realized that trying to become a very good artist is probably the only and main milestone. I also realized that while for a human life 20 years is a very long increment of time, for art and art history it’s literally a second. Also, that art has the potential to overcome these time limitations of one’s lifetime, so there is a totally different time frame and time perception for this profession.
CH.89: Do you enjoy traveling? If so, do you have a favorite city?
MP: I do enjoy traveling but don’t do it very often. My favorite city out of everything I have seen so far is Rome.
CH.89: Do you have a favorite author or book?
MP: Old Testament + New Testament, and Plato “The Symposium”. I guess if you have read this far, by now you already realized that I am a bit of a nerd. But I think there is a lot of wisdom in these books, and as I mentioned I like the ancient world.
CH.89: Any future goals or plans for your artwork?
MP: I just hope to make more new works, make better works, and get them out in the world to be seen. All of it is a work in progress – as always.
CH.89: What does being an artist mean to you?
MP: Being an artist for me means capturing a moment or a feeling and preserving it. Almost like keeping a visual diary. I dreamed of being an artist since I was a child. Modigliani said: “It is your duty in life to save your dream”. I guess it means I am saving my dream! Richter also said that “art is the highest form of hope”. As art generally lives in/for the future, I realized (especially with this current military unrest in the world and threats of nuclear disasters) that being an artist is having this universal hope for the future, that humanity will continue to exist on this planet, and that art will be appreciated for many more generations to come. Being an artist also means warping the perception of time for myself which is challenging but interesting.
CH.89: What’s the last song you listened to?
MP: I listen to a lot of random music, it’s rather eclectic, and I always play something on repeat.
CH.89: Any last words on the aesthetic of your artwork?
MP: I think words are not very good at describing the aesthetic of visual art – a painting or a sculpture. Just like food or music, they need to be experienced in person and each person will have their own perception, as tastes and views differ.