Olga Lomaka’s work combines concrete and the abstract, the familiar and the unknown. Working broadly within the pop art paradigm, the artist employs the recognisable aesthetic of consumerism. There is an irony in her use of this visual language to communicate complex ideas and narratives. By tweaking iconic pop culture symbolism, she communicates her hopes and concerns about our society.
Hi Olga, how's this year been for you so far? What are your hopes moving forward?
As an artist I have spent a lot of time alone at home working. Counting lockdowns helped me to focus – the outside world stopped distracting me, so I find that I am creating more than ever. For me, time was my biggest limitation but time has become somewhat infinite – I have this strange feeling that it will never end. So, it gives me the freedom to be more creative, without worrying about time constraint.
What inspires you to make art?
There are many reasons why people create art. For some it is self-expression, while for others it is a desire to connect with other people. I was on a quest to find meaning in life and it led me to art. I found that art is like medicine and I found true happiness in creativity.
If we are talking about my mission as an artist, it is a dialogue with the world through my work and interaction with society. I share my experience, worldview and ideas with the outside world. I want viewers to look at global problems that are happening in our world and show them a form of reality; perhaps finding that reality within ourselves, that’s where the true values of our society live today. I see my mission as not only to create beauty or to create eye-pleasing art objects that can be hung on the wall or placed on a shelf. Each of my works has a deep meaning and carries a message into this world: art as non-verbal communication of our societal issues.
My ideas often come from mixing two separate things to form a new dimension. Sometimes I contemplate a topic, object or medium and then apply my personal understanding of forces outside ourselves to take it in a new direction.
My sources of inspiration are traveling, interacting with nature, meditations, visiting exhibitions, art museums, art fairs, watching films and reading books.
Your work is woven with recognisable symbols from popular culture like the Chanel logo and cannabis leaf emblem. What do these symbols mean to you?
In my work, I like to play with recognisable images and products of consumerism by putting together iconic images of pop culture and giving them a second meaning. By playing with the layers pop culture possesses, I raise serious issues about our society through its positive and fun images. I try to bring light to issues that concern us all, such as the world order, the flaws of modernity and the psychology of human consciousness.
In the new “Alien” sculpture series, I continue to explore these layers of meaning through a rich panoply of sources; from the artistic, to the mass media, to the unexplained and less obvious. Humans have a lot of questions about alien life. But those beings, if they exist, are likely to have questions of their own about humans. Who are we?
The Pink Panther symbol in your sculptures has been described as "the messenger from the future that came to remind us about the importance of the present moment". Would you elaborate on this?
My new project 'Through Time and Space' is a series of chrome sculptures in my trademark exploration of pop, esoteric and the magical.
It’s a voyage ‘Through Time and Space’ reminiscent of ‘The Terminator 2, Judgment Day’. My melting chrome pink panther is sent back in time and is the messenger from the future who came to remind us about the importance of the present moment. It wants us to be aware of our thoughts and actions now, at this present moment, because that is how we create our future. And this is the only time that matters, the rest is an illusion and does not exist.
So, it is our decisions in what multiple/infinite presents we want to be now by taking control of our present thoughts and emotions. As an artist, I believe that we should enjoy living in the present moment and learn how to feel love, joy, grace and magnificence, to resonate positive emotions that bring the energy of a happy future.
The Pink Panther is a mirror within the ever-shifting drama that plays out on its surface and you realise it’s your own reflection, it's in pink and gleaming like some luxurious futuristic idol. Despite the guise of humour, playfulness and vibrancy, this new series is of deep spiritual, philosophical and psychological nature. ‘Through Time and Space’ is an exploration of the universe, the consciousness which is embedded in it and the multi-dimensional realities of what is possible.
The cartoon-like playful sculptures should evoke positive emotions just like the ones we felt in childhood: when trees were big and the rainbow shined at every moment.
You originally studied painting and your current practice also incorporates sculpture and printmaking. How do you see the relationship between these mediums?
My interests are not limited to painting alone. I’m also interested in installations, relief sculpture and free-standing sculpture.
I made a gradual shift from painting to sculpture because flat canvas became too limiting for me to express my ideas. I realised that in order for the viewer to understand and feel my ideas, I needed more shape and texture. I started experimenting with new techniques, carving and aerography, mixing traditional materials and modern media.
Do you look up to any particular artist's style, ideas or both?
Yes I do and I look for style and ideas. But I would say that the idea has a key role. If there is no deeper idea/concept or even questions behind the artwork, it just has great style, then it becomes craft, which is fantastic in its own right but it’s not enough for me.
Artists who have influenced my practice are Jeff Koons, Yayoi Kusama, Takashi Murakami, Marcel Duchamp, Andy Warhol, Lucio Fontana, David Mach, Allen Jones, César, Keith Haring, Robert Indiana.
How much of your own personality or identity do you think goes into your practice? Is your work a reflection of yourself, or something separate?
Visually, my art reflects my personality, it’s bright and colourful, with a twist of playfulness and humour. I am who I am, and my artwork is what it is. I look for the atypical in everyday life to reveal my spiritual and social concerns: what we consider reality, along with hidden dimensions of consciousness and possibilities.
Consumerism, our day-to-day values, philosophy, spirituality, kindness and goodness really – a personal journey to become a better self?
We, artists, reflect on what is happening in the world through our art. For example, artists have been recording their interpretation of lockdown by producing work.
But beyond that Art also has the power to instill positive messages (Sir Peter Blake Rainbow for example), support values and shared experiences. Art preserves what fact-based historical records cannot: how it felt to exist in a particular place at a particular time. Art, in this sense, is a vehicle for social change.
How do you feel about the large online following and media attention you have received in recent years?
Many artists around the world are adapting to the new media landscape, especially during the lockdown, by swapping physical spaces for virtual ones. I am working on “Fantasy projects” and do livestreams to talk about my art and art in general on social media.
I don’t consider my profile on social media as the key to my work but I guess that at some point it is a good sign, possibly a marker that an artist is becoming more. So, I should probably be happy and excited about this stage of my artistic career.
What does success as an artist look like to you? Is there something you are trying to accomplish or a milestone you're trying to reach?
Attempting to define success as an artist is difficult because it varies widely from person to person.
Most artists judge their success in terms of sales. I believe this is one of the worst ways to evaluate someone’s progress as an artist. For me, success has nothing to do with money. Success is coming from the satisfaction of creating artwork that is unique and innovative.
I became an artist because I wanted to make a difference, I view art as mythology that connects us. I strive to be part of this communication. I could even go as far as to say ‘an artist is a modern day shaman’.
As I move forward in my career, I judge my progress by how many people I reach. I travel like a nomad around the world visiting galleries and hosting exhibitions in as many countries as I can, and as years go by, my humble circle gets bigger and bigger. I judge my progress by how these people respond to my art.
There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions. So what!? The best way is just to get started now. With each step I take, I grow more and more skilled, more and more confident in my work – who knows what the future holds!?
What's next for Olga Lomaka? Do you have any exciting plans or projects on the horizon?
I have a few exhibitions coming up, including “Hunting for White Unicorn” group Exhibition in 25Kadr Gallery in Moscow in February, Retrospective exhibition in Espinasse31 Gallery in their new space in Madrid in March, the release of new prints series “Aliens” in April, and “Aliens” exhibition in London and Miami.
There are also more artist talks, art-fairs, charity collaborations to look forward to.
I have really great projects planned which I can’t reveal until we go public with them, so watch this space!