Artist Interview #4, Boris Ostrerov

Its been awhile since I’ve posted an interview for the “Artist Interview Series” but here’s a recent one with Boris Ostrerov.  Currently Boris lives in Chicago and is pursuing a masters degree at SAIC.  I wanted to catch up this interdisciplinary artist for a little one on one about his recent accomplishments.

A Recent Pile

CW: Could you please explain what your “stacks” are?

BO: I’m still figuring this out, but, they started as a thought to stack bands of flat colors as a sculptor or architect would if he were given a 2D surface, paint and brushes. I do not intent most of them to represent something real in the real world, but they can resemble piles or stacks of different things. I was interested in physics, namely gravity, balance, anticipation of collapse, and the relationship of colors.

Here is from my artist statement:
I often find a seemingly dumb misunderstanding is more intriguing than an understanding and may reveal a surprising truth.

With this idea in mind, I objectify paint marks to create pile-ups or stacks of brush-marks that exist in their own world, the space of which is confined to the dimensions of the substrate I work on. I have now begun to not only paint pile-ups of flat uniform brush-marks, but a diverse range of marks and color forms and on a larger scale.

I think about:

A pile that grows up not knowing where it came from or how it got there.
A pile that grows up with the possibility of collapse.
A pile that keeps growing with the knowledge that any subsequent growth can add instability.

an Ink Puddle

CW: How have you evolved from performance/interactive pieces and ink blots to the stacks?

BO: I stopped focusing on performance work for a while because I didn’t like the idea that I don’t have an audience, and most of my performances involved audience interaction/participation, so I didn’t know how to reconcile this every time I went to the studio. Still, I wouldn’t know what to do in the studio on a daily basis if I was a performance artist… As a painter you can always paint, but as a performance artist, I guess you just sit and think. Or gather your supplies/set and write proposals for venues. If I think of a good performance idea I’ll do it. Till then I have other mediums to explore. The ink splatter and drip pieces led to the stack pieces. I wanted to use ink to “clean” white paper with a sponge or broom, and when I made a few strokes with a sponge in black, the idea of stacking these marks and using them as objects came to mind. The next thought was to stack colors.

a Stack

CW:In the last two years you’ve lived in both New York and Chicago. How did they both affect the way you created?

BO: Well, New York is most stimulating city I have been to. It’s hard to explain until you’ve lived there. The best of the best is there in every field. And all their ideas get exchanged quickly because of the density of population. In NYC you feel you have to prove yourself because there are so many good artists, so that makes you work harder and realize what good artwork looks like from being surrounded by it. But in Chicago, the pace is slower, there are less worthy art events to go to, so that gives you more time to create. But the girls are better looking in Chicago!…That’s a distraction. So I can’t definitively say one is a more productive place to create than the other.

CW: In your work you also recently comment on mainstream hip hop and contemporary Russian/American culture, specifically in the video “Teaching Grandma Lil’ Wayne”. What do you think is the importance of this cultural exchange?

BO: It was important for me because I felt that without explaining Lil’ Wayne to my grandma, she couldn’t understand who I really am. Because I do have a Lil Wayne inside of me that significantly influences my views on life, values, and what I aspire to such as popin’ and pourin’ champagne on supermodels. In addition, this would be a way to assimilate her to American culture, spend quality time bonding with me while also learning about things she whished weren’t a part of me. Also, I often find myself trying to explain certain cultural phenomena to my family, and no matter how hard I try, there are some things that are simply not possible for people to understand and accept.

I’ve also realized that I’ll never be able to do what Lil’ Wayne has done, and it boggles my mind that artists aren’t talking about his work and studio practice within academia. Furthermore, I think hip-hop raises the issue of “what role does visual art play in present time amidst hip-hop?” If we can’t directly change or affect the world at large with visual art, then what can we as visual artists do? Painting just isn’t dangerous enough to DEMAND attention. Sometimes I go to an art show and think, “do these people/artists really think they can outdo or make something more significant and compelling than Lil’ Wayne?” Cause I think that’s a delusion. Idk, it’s a tragic thing that I’m trying to figure out as I am predominantly a painter.

CW: Any plans for the future that the blogosphere should know about?

BO: Yes, “…if you’ve got eyes, look at me now.” – Lil Wayne

One day (getting back to the last question) I want to make paintings that will make people feel like listening to Gucci Mane, and in the reception I want Gucci Mane’s music to be playing and not drown the paintings towards the background. That’s one goal I have. Someday…

For more information about Boris Ostrerov please visit: