Interview: Victor Cuzmenco
Luca Curci talks with Victor Cuzmenco during BODIES+CITIES SKIN, the first appointment of BORDERS ART FAIR 2021, at Palazzo Albrizzi-Capello.
Victor Cuzmenco was born in 1948 in Divizia settlement, Odessa region, Ukraine. He graduated from Moscow State Institute of Fine Arts named after V. Surikov in 1974. His paintings are in the funds of National Art Museum of Moldova, CIS museums, the funds of Russian Ministry of Culture, private collections in USA, Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, Turkey, Israel, Singapore, Russia and Ukraine. His personal shows were held in Moldova (2016-2018, 2000, 1994, 1991), Korbeins Galerie – Frankfurt, Germany (1993), the Central House of Artists, Moscow (1991). The artist was awarded the Diploma of Moldovan Artists Union “for the best coverage of creative theme”; his art was also included in Art Encyclopedia of Moldova. Victor’s artworks were exhibited at such group shows as VIII and IX International Exhibitions in Lion Cultural Centre, France (2002, 2003), the exhibition of Moldovan avant-guard artists in Dusseldorf, Germany (1996), «Art-Myth-93» in the Central House of Artists, Moscow (1993), group exhibition at Uppsala Contemporary Art Museum, Sweden (1992), the Exhibition of creative group “Fantom” in Ismail, Ukraine (1990), the exhibition of Moldovan artists in Aachen, Germany (1990), group exhibition in “Art Base” gallery, Singapore (1989). Victor Cuzmenco exhibited his artworks at over 200 expositions in Moldova and internationally. In 2019 he was awarded the Prize of Art and Culture Center – Bacau, Romania. In 2020 Victor’s artworks were included in more than 15 group exhibitions of online galleries and published at art magazines in USA, Canada, UK, and Italy. The selected paintings became award-winning and gained Special Merit and Honorable Mention.
Luca Curci – What are you currently working on?
Victor Cuzmenco – The Administration of the National Art Museum of Moldova suggested me a solo exhibition scheduled for October 2021. Currently I am working on the concept and the exhibits. I would like to create some new artworks and display them with those I’ve already made in the recent years. I will try my best to make this display look like the part of the exhibition space and not just like a set of paintings on their own.
LC – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
VC – I was born in Divizia settlement (Ukraine) in a large family becoming the 12th child out of 13. Since I turned five I pastured cattle. The time lingered extremely slow from morning till evening. This memory inspired me to create the painting titled Turtle Sun of my Childhood in 2017. At the age of 12 I enrolled into Children Art School and then continued studies of fine art at the Art College named after I. Repin in Chisinau (Moldova). Finally, I graduated from Moscow State Institute of Fine Arts named after Vasilii Surikov (USSR/Russia). Since 1978 I became the member of the Union of Artists of the USSR, at present time the Union of Artists of Moldova. Throughout my long career I exhibited at over 300 art shows.I learnt reading at the early age to while away the time. When I was pasturing cattle at the age of 6 I was reading Honoré de Balzac, Leo Tolstoy, Walter Scott, Alexander Pushkin, André Maurois, Philippe Hériat, Victor Hugo, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Heinrich Heine, Émile Zola and the others. As a matter of fact I’ve read all European classics. Rather later I read Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Mikhail Bulgakov, and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. I believe that my reading experience defined the choice of art career.At a later stage of my artistic experience I almost refused from traditional paints in favour of natural primary media such as ground, sand, clay, and shell limestone, which I was familiar with since childhood. I had to walk barefooted and tactile communication with the properties of these media made me pay attention and explore color and textural difference between them and also their particular suggestiveness. Thus, reading and communication experience with natural media impacted my art the most.
LC – Which is the role the artist plays in society? And contemporary art?
VC – An artist stimulates spiritual life, which tends to comfort stagnancy. An artist draws people’s attention to the fact that all in our life is not as it is in reality. And contemporary art is hygiene of human sole, intellect, and spirit. It speaks out hard-hitting truth about humans.
LC – What is your creative process like?
VC – I cannot describe exactly how my creative process works. Something usually flashes on, illuminates my mind. For example, I clearly remember that when I was three we had a cock taller than me at that time. So, this memorable detail helped me create a series of paintings titled Cockiness 1 and 2. The artworks are 160×120 cm each showing large images of cocks and thereby emphasizing their size and significance.
LC – What is the most challenging part about creating your artworks?
VC – Finding plastically solution to the multitude of ideas, sensations and feelings, which may stimulate the conception of a future artwork, takes great efforts. Determining the right composition, colors, texture, dimension, and rhythmic structure is the most challenging.
LC – We were attracted by your last artistic production, has the artwork presented been created for the festival or as a part of preexisting works?
VC – My work titled Diffusion of Realms is one of a series of paintings I am currently working on.
LC – In which way the artwork presented in our exhibition is connected with the festival’s theme?
VC – I am really interested in what a surface is and how it builds many borders but at the same time enters into complex relationship with other borders of micro world, macro world, visible world and also man-made virtual world. In our complex multi-scale world a dramatic interaction of these worlds takes place. This interaction generates new situations and opportunities for another reformatting of a stagnant situation into incomprehensible, unexpected, and unknown new state. It thereby forms new surfaces, which causes new changes and possible conflicts. The illustrative example is my painting titled Opposition, 2019, mixed media on canvas.
LC- What do you think about ITSLIQUID Platform?
VC – The platform is aimed to promote contemporary art through a number of events both online and offline across several countries. It provides valuable information and opportunities to artists willing to show and monetize their art, connect with collectors, art curators and critics. Unfortunately, I have little experience with ITSLIQUID Platform as it was my first time taking part in the Borders Art Fair. Neither was I able to attend and appreciate the show personally because of COVID restrictions and risk for my age group. However I must admit that throughout communication and cooperation process the staff was polite, friendly and supportive with the issues and questions I had.
LC – Do you think ITSLIQUID GROUP can represent an opportunity for artists?
VC – ITSLIQUID GROUP definitely can grant opportunities for artists to get greater exposure of their art on the international level through a number of open calls, awards, prizes and live events. I only regret that no every artist can afford the use of these opportunities as these imply various fees payment. I do realize that organization of such events requires expenses, so artists should decide themselves whether to compromise.