Kiew Kunst

Interview with Olena Shtepura

Olena Shtepura is a young Ukrainian artist living and working in Kyiv, Ukraine. She is now exploring the opportunities art has to offer. Olena says she finds inspiration in everyday objects and you can really see that — she really sees beauty in the things we come across in our every day routine.

How has the quarantine affected your artistic life?
In the beginning, the quarantine gave me an opportunity to take a break from the studio and relax. Later it became a sort of source of inspiration for me because I made a new series of “the quarantine episodes” you can see one of them behind my back here. So yeah, it was a source of inspiration and I thought of it unto a new series of paintings, excerpted some points that I lived through, as well as many other people during the quarantine.

What living artists do you follow?
I follow all of them. I mean, there are a lot of artists that I like, during some periods of my art you tend to start looking at someone in more detail. For example, when I studied at the faculty of fine art I looked at Danny MacCaw, later when my professor pointed out that my art is somewhat similar to Andrew White’s, I started following his practice too, In general, I can say that you always follow and see something. Most of the time it happens on Instagram, you follow some foreign artists even get inspired by them, maybe borrow some tricks, or the composition. There are so many of them, Instagram is so big! So there is that.

Olena Shtepura
Olena Shtepura, Cafe Painting, 31,5 x 47.2 cm

Where do you find inspiration for your artworks?
Well, I could say banally from life. What I mean is, every time it happens in a new way. Quarantine happened—the episodes from the quarantine were created, the previous series of works with swimming women was a large complex of moments from life, you may not realise straight away that something might become art, but then you start pondering upon some topic that could come to you on a bus ride; and you rethink everything, start remembering different episodes from the life and a number of series is being born from different parts of life. I’ve finished “episodes” and I wanted to turn my attention to something new, I was scrolling through my Instagram feed and saw a beautiful photograph. So in a sense its art for art’s sake, with no complicated concept underneath it all right now I just want to paint for the sake of painting. 

What do you aim to say through your works?
I think firstly I talk with myself through my artworks. It doesn’t always happen in a sense of saying something to somebody, so I start off with saying it myself and then other people can join your inner dialogue, and feel what you were aiming to say. Although you might not have aimed at saying something, its more of pondering with yourself as a way of expression.

How do you see your career progressing?
Of course, I’d like to fast forward in terms of the development of social status as an artist, but for now, it doesn’t happen so fast. I’d like more exhibitions – it sounds weird but more international recognition. What I mean is to go beyond the borders of Kyiv to develop further, so significant personas would notice me, like curators, gallerists. I’d like to develop as an artist and to move towards more significant points, I think it is not enough for an artist to just exist or maybe there is something fin it or everyone, for some artists it’s enough to stay in the studio and paint, I want to change things, there is never enough drive. For example, you have an exhibition and think you did great and everything’s good but now after half a year has passed I am starting to bug myself again in a sense that I want to do something, participate in more things and develop myself further.

Olena Shtepura –
The Art Unit –

The Art Unit is a UK based online platform that sells and promotes works from emerging artists, creating a healthy ecosystem for both artists and the buyers. Mariia Kashchenko is one of the co-founders of The Art Unit. She thought of the idea for The Art Unit whilst studying Arts and Cultural Management at King’s College London.