It is hard enough for anyone to remain innovative in an ever-expanding creative environment but to still be considered a trailblazer after 40 years in the industry is somewhat of a rarity. With a portfolio spanning photography, painting, collage and the fashion ‘project’ Close Up & Private, Sergei Sviatchenko has managed to remain evocative and relevant while maintaining an aesthetic that is uniquely his own.
In the forward of your new book Everything Goes Right & Left If You Want It it’s mentioned that your mother referred to herself as a ‘crazy modernist’, do you align yourself with any particular movement past or present?
Yes, with many. I was influenced by Russian avant garde, the wanderers (the movement among Russian realist artists in 1870–1890), surrealism, pop art, minimal art and hippies…
Did you make any new personal discoveries regarding your work while compiling and reviewing pieces for your new monograph?
I realised how different my work looks as a row of images in a book, both paintings and collage work, compared with placing the same works in exhibitions, where each work stands out. It brought to light how difficult it can be to create a visual harmony in this book, which in itself is a type of 3D work.
Your quoted as saying you’re a collector, are you a collector of all things or simply of images?
I would collect more if I had more space as I do like to own ‘things’. But I tend to limit myself to LPs and images.
Your work as far as I can discern has been applied to a variety of architectural spaces such as interiors for bookstores, football clubs and lecture theatres. Have you investigated applying your works to industrial objects, and is there an object that you would love to work with?
I would love to work across multiple surfaces in a large environment, say the part of a town or of an industrial area, with my images as a sort of architectural illustration. I am very comfortable with blowing up the images without losing the idea or intent of the work.
It seems, especially with a younger audience, that you’ve become just as well known for your impeccable sense of personal style as you are for your work, namely through your latest project Close Up & Private, has this attention surprised you at all?
Yes, and it pleases me. I see CUAP as a place to work with a new visual language. The photography is my tool, but the composition of the image, the colouring, the changing row of the images; all these are important and fascinate me. I hear the site is a daily inspiration for many, and that most viewers see the site as a straight fashion blog. I know that some of the more ‘random’ images or even collages can create a challenge for some however I think this is important in our current visual environment.
Does your process for sourcing images for new collage works now involve digital resources or do you still source your materials for compositions from physical sources such as magazines?
While you’ve worked with fashion brands in the past namely as a photographer, I’m not aware as yet of any collaborations on a labels clothing say on either cut or print, is this something that interests you?
Yes it does and I already have but I can’t talk about it just yet. Labels tend to have their own strategies on how they wish to announce these things.
Why do you think Ivy League style has seen a bit of resurgence among younger men?
It has this nice feeling of eternity in it, like coming to the same place at different moments of life.
Or with different people. “Young people love their parents too”. To paraphrase Sting.
Can you elaborate on what you mean by ‘collage thinking’?
Collage thinking for me is a work and life principle when the elements of different media, time periods and structure come into harmony and bring a new message or create a new association that had not been considered before.
CUAP features Etiquette For the Modern Classicist a series of tips on style and manners for the modern man, can you provide our readers with an extra piece of fashion advice?
Smile when you look in the mirror.
For more on the work of Sergei Sviatchenko visit sviatchanko.dk. Everything Goes Right & Left If You Want It is available now via Gestalten. This interview also appears in issue 29 of ACCLAIM Magazine, purchase here.