In April 2022, Hue&Eye held an interview with Ukrainian artist Tanya Bilous, focusing on her relationship with art, her previous interests, and ultimately the attachment to her country, Ukraine – where she was living despite the current global crisis.
Today she is currently finishing her art residency in Sweden and opened a solo exhibition at Vandalorum, the modern art museum in Varnamo, called ‘Landscapes’.
About Tanya Bilous
Born and raised in Ivano-Frankivsk in 1987, a city on the western side of Ukraine, Tanya Bilous still lives and works there.
Coming from a family of artistic souls, Tanya studies music and violin at high school. She also approaches fine arts, but at that time, she couldn’t find the right motivation to pursue a further interest. So, later on, Bilous applied for psychology studies, a discipline that well suited her ability to deepen human emotions and feel helpful. She indeed felt the urge to support people in need when in 2014, during the first Russian war endeavor towards Ukraine, she wished to help her country with the emergency.
After her psychology studies, Tanya also held a Master’s Degree in tourism at University. For this, she lived in Turkey for a while, working in the entertainment industry. Tanya loves people. Exploring different cultures is why she sees traveling as one of her most vital interests. Believing that life is short and one shall get the most out of it, Tanya started to feel the desire to exploit her feelings more significantly. That’s when art arrived as a rescue remedy to her needs. Life made her encounter a great art teacher, Liudomyr Khudiak, whom Tanya still considers accountable for encouraging her to commit to painting. He pushed her to believe in herself as an artist and was also an excellent psychologist to her. He saw in Tanya the energy she was waiting to share with the outside world.
Hello Tanya, and welcome back. When or how have you understood you wanted to become an artist?
I am trying to remember when exactly I understood it. Art is something that was always part of my life in different forms and different ways. I graduated from music school and studied art at school. Back then, as a teenager, I knew that in the reality where I grew up, there was no way for me to make decent money with art. Later, when I had a successful career as an English-Ukrainian interpreter, I started painting again. It was an inner push for fulfillment as I didn’t feel happy. I found an art teacher, started painting a lot in his studio, and after a year, participated in a group exhibition. I was 28.
Please briefly describe your technique and tell us what drives you to make art.
I paint with the help of oil paints on canvas. Oil paint is my favorite medium, with its character and peculiarities. I like the softness and, at the same time, the hardness of the textures they can create. It gives additional freedom in my expression. I love painting abstract as well as figurative art and landscapes. My inner need for expression drives me. Since the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, my topic has been war and its influence on people.
What is the main feature that has changed in your work or practice?
The expression changes. I used to paint bright landscapes and flowers. Now my landscapes are dark and red, very sharp and vivid.
Which artist primarily inspires your work? And is there something else, outside visual arts, that keeps you motivated?
My inspiration was always Picasso. I love the freedom in his art. Ukrainian artists Hlushchenko and Exter inspire me as well. Speaking of a modern artists, that would be Kiefer and Kryvolap. Besides visual arts, I love music, theatre, dance, and movies.
How would you like people to engage with your work?
The best way to engage with my work is to buy it 🙂
Tell us something more about your new exhibition in Sweden.
I opened an exhibition, “LANDSCAPES” at the Museum of Modern Art and Design in Värnamo, Sweden. The show consists of a series of ten paintings reflecting on the war in Ukraine.
Every day going to work, taking children to kindergarten or school, jogging along the river, or having a walk in the forest we
notice the beauty of the nature surrounding us. Every day, nature and landscapes are changing due to the weather or seasons or even
our mood. Everything we have ever seen, experienced, heard, or felt stays with us forever.
We might not remember it, but our subconscious does. Some landscapes stick in our memory or our hearts once we have seen them. When having a blast, the most memorable moments will bring out landscapes connected to those moments. Those memories can trigger the sound of a train, river, plane, or voice; the smell of rain, fall, fire, or water; the vision of trees, fields, mountains, buildings, or roads. We cannot control the visions when the trigger pulls. It happens automatically, even before our mind starts processing it.
Sometimes our memories take us to beautiful and happy moments; sometimes, we remember the most painful and horrible ones.
The ten paintings “Landscapes?” were created in peaceful and charming Sweden during my art residency in Värnamo. I observed the calmness of the lakes here, the eternity of the green forests, long bright sunsets, and the serenity of the river while having my long walks. However, all I could see was Ukraine.
No matter where I went or how long I was walking, everything reminded me of my home landscapes. Those dear landscapes became flooded by blood and tears. Those landscapes no longer smell of sunflowers and wheat but gunpowder, smoke, and corps. Those landscapes are no longer blue and yellow but turned black and red.
Tanya is part of VictoryArt a platform that sells and represents contemporary eastern European art based in Rotterdam.
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