Diabolical – A Conversation with Valerie Savchits
Valerie Savchits was one of the Judges Picks in our 2019 Delphian Open Call, and we really love her expressive, often darkly-comic works. We decided to find out a little more about her work, and what it all means.
Benjamin Murphy – Firstly, why are you an artist?
Valerie Savchits – When I was about 2-3 years old my mother introduced me to drawing – she was kind of into designing and drawing in her teenage years. Between 2005-2008 I used to paint on the streets with my classmates like real vandals, but in 2009 something shifted in me and I realised that I’m really into chemistry, I even started my Chemical Technology course in Riga Technical University in 2012 but deep down I knew that I have to stick to what really cures me, allows to transmit flows of ideas and raise my voice on many important topics. My parents were brought up in Soviet times, were a little strict and believed you need to go into a solid profession so you can feed yourself. They simply wanted me to find a job in an office or do 12h shifts in some restaurant not far from home and that’s it.
They always wanted only best for me and their intentions were always good but at the same time they were trying to put an idea into my head that I need to have a stable income, have kids by the age of 21 and make my art my hobby because it’s unrealistic to be an artist in Latvia or elsewhere – it wasn’t even a profession for them.
But I just didn’t care – despite their endless efforts, I just ignored about 80% of what they were saying to me. Diabolical, I know. If I listened to every single advice they ever gave to me, I wouldn’t be where I am now and having this conversation with you. So, being already a colossal failure for my parents because I didn’t live up to their expectations, I embraced my rebellious nature and moved to Manchester to study arts in hope it will help me to understand myself a bit more.
BM – So would you say that a spirit of rebellion is a salient part of your work too?
VS – Sure, this is something inevitable – I need to spill this explosive energy out so it transforms into the characters you see in my work.
BM – Who are these characters in your work and what do they represent?
VS – Very often the characters in my work are a projection of my memory or simply an embodiment of symbiosis of current emotions. Sometimes my characters take shape / are born from the conversations I heard in real life or movies or read in books – I’m a huge fan of dystopian science fiction, especially its sub-genre cyberpunk and it’s been influential on my work for quite some time.
May be this year I’ll try to work on self-portraiture – this is something I haven’t done before and definitely outside of my comfort zone.
BM – If the characters in your work represent your memories or your emotions, how will these new self-portraits differ from your current work?
VS – The thing is that all the characters in my current work never happened to depict me – those memories and emotions were usually connected with or evoked by someone or something else. For example I dedicated a few works to my mother which depicted my complicated relationship with her and what you actually see on canvas is either an animal, a burning house or a bunch of bones – it can take any shape.
Now I want to try out different guises, explore my body lines and mimics and it’s going to be one of the hardest things to do – to capture my own essence, because sometimes I catch myself thinking that even complete strangers know more about me than I do about myself. I think this could be a good change for me to become my own subject and this self-portrait project will also develop in parallel with my current work.
BM – Are they dedicated to her because they contain something that you want to say about her, or is it something you want to say to her rather than about her?
VS – It’s just the way I express my feelings or doubts about some topics (not about her persona) that I don’t necessarily want to tell her tête-à-tête – all my paintings or sculptures, including the ones I dedicated to members of my family, are like a personal diary.
BM – So what makes you so willing to share that personal diary with the world
VS – I’d say the main reason for this is that I often can’t keep my opinions to myself, the more I keep inside myself the more it becomes a catalyst for making me feel ambivalent and this simply drives me crazy in the aftermath. But at the same time I don’t like talking much and give long speeches, so I prefer to make a statement in a piece of artwork. I incorporate phrases both in Russian and English in all my work and this combination of image and text depicts my thoughts, emotions and observations more precisely than an ordinary diary ever could.
For more by Valerie Savchits, see her WEBSITE