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Nika Kupyrova
age: 21
country: Czeck Republic
exposed: August 2006
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Please introduce yourself and tell us something about yourself and your background
When I grow up I want to be an artist.
Hm… what about me? First, there is this complicated international background – I was born in Kiev, Ukraine in a Russian family, but I lived most of my life in Prague, Czech Republic. Just to add the general mess in terms of “home” I now live and study in Edinburgh in Scotland. There was a lot of moving involved, a lot of changes, a lot of rented flats, international schools, more moving and changes…
Both my parents are practicing artists, so art was always the most prominent part of my upbringing and perhaps the reason why I was so reluctant to have anything to do with it until my late teens…
What did I consider? Psychology? Art History? As far as I remember when I was a kid I wanted to be a veterinarian, but it faded away because of my allergies…
Currently, I’m on a Drawing and Painting degree in Edinburgh College of Art doing what I think I was always meant to do and I’m very glad that nothing came on my way and made me change my mind.

What’s the central theme of your work?
My main interest at the moment is in a more sculptural, more material-based interpretation of painting – experimenting with materials and found objects I make constructed, wall-based pieces using wood, MDF, fabric, plastics, unstretched canvas, etc. I explore a direct use of materials as a painting technique, literally constructing a painting rather than making a composition from painted elements.
I combine quite blunt use of found objects with more subtle, painterly details and work with composition and colour, using the actual colour of material, adjusting it, changing it, juxtaposing it with another surface.

What do you consider to be the most important work in your oeuvre?
The one I’ve just finished. And then the next one. And the next one. There is a lot for me in making of the work, but with time we seem to grow apart.
But its all good, I wouldn’t show you anything I don’t like.

What makes something to a good piece of art in your eyes?
I might sound snobbish, but its this certain something that just makes it work. You can’t cheat with art, either its there or its not. No excuses.

Could you tell us something about your work process? How do you start? How long do you work on it? What mediums do you work in and which one do you enjoy the most?
I start with materials – my studio is like my own personal junkyard filled with bits and pieces that I found, rolls of cellophane, wallpaper, black rubbish bags, foam, fabric, etc. As I always ask people to leave stuff they don’t need at my studio space, sometimes I don’t even know what’s there. Like this old hardhat - who left it? Well, I’ll probably use it for something anyway – art or storage.
My artwork begins with selection – when an object or a form catches my attention, or perhaps when I become interested in a way two materials work against each other. I emphasise the elements I find interesting and try to communicate the excitement of the object, the uniqueness of it, the fascination that my art is about.
I usual have a few pieces started at the same time and they just lie around or hang on the wall, while I add to them occasionally. My workspace is equipped with all sorts of peculiar instruments, hardware tools, supplies of wire and sandpaper, several pairs of scissors, because they keep disappearing. I use lots of fabric (scrap box in Fashion department is very helpful) and PVA glue in large quantities. And all sorts of paints – I DO use paint, despite the common belief…

In what way do you use the Internet? What role does the computer play in your work?
I probably spend more time on the computer than a painter should…
I work with digital photography and graphic design programs and I was always interested in web-based art, so now I’m trying to give my artwork a digital dimension. My digital work tends to be more text-based and ironic, it is a kind of visual commentary, which blends in text and images in a style of personal journal -I’m interested in narrative, misleading, interaction. As for the internet – it is my main mean of communication with the world, both artistic and personal. It makes life easier when there are so many countries involved…

Computer or Ink?
Either, or a clever combination of the two

Concept or Intuition?

If you had an unlimited budget and all the time you needed. What would you do?
I’ll be nice to create my own planet, which would exist according to my artistic criteria…

What inspires you?
Objects, things, materials… rubbish. Bargain stores. Charity shops. Junkyards. I honestly, sincerely, dearly love stuff.

What means or ways do you use to show your work to the world?
Hold on, I’m just getting started on that! Well, of course there’s internet, which I think will always be my favourite way of communication. Some more physical opportunities and also coming up...

How do to you keep your knowledge up to date? Do you spread your knowledge at universities, conferences or workshops and so on?
I’m an internet addict – so most of the info reaches me on-line, I’m glad when artists and galleries spend time and money on websites – it shows…
College library has a good selection of art periodicals – another useful and money-saving option. Edinburgh has some rather good galleries showing contemporary art – Fruitmarket Gallery, Stills or The Embassy are nearby and always never disappointing. And for course there are fellow student shows…
I’m always trying to find some time off or art research travel – this summer I’m up to see the international student film festival in Karlovy Vary and hopefully will get inspired to do some time-based work…

Who is your favorite artist/designer? Why?
Don’t really have my hero, but I let myself be inspired by what I see around me, be it art or non-art. Its not a particular artist or style, but something that catches my eye, that appeals to me right-here-right-now and has this secret ingredient that makes it work.
I like contemporary sculpture, and a lot of new design ideas are witty and complex, but in the end the a piece of broken glass with some mould and dirt might defeat it all…

Which project or website would you like to have made, or make?
I like an idea of interactive art. A virtual ‘cook book’ what would give you the ingredients… A flexible, adjustable piece of art that would shape itself around a particular viewer or a location. Chameleon-art. Art that becomes independent of the artist.
I would like to give my objects a digital alter ego – animation? Make them come to life?
I feel my mission as an artist is to communicate that art is a great thing to do. Art is exciting, its engaging, its fun. Behind any art is a pleasure, a pleasure of making, of designing, of selecting. And that’s perhaps the most important thing about it.

Final words?
Final? I’m just starting… ?>