Konstantin Kornakov is an artist who lives in Moscow, Russia. When I saw his photography on social media http://againstart.wix.com/konstantinkornakov1, I knew that I had to chat with him. We used an online translator and got the job done.
MICHAEL: Hey Konstantin, I love your work. You seem to like to photograph rough and highly-textural surfaces and you make them look like abstract paintings. What inspires you to do this?
KONSTANTIN: Thank you Michael! I must say that I don't specifically make abstract pictures. This is a consequence, not a cause. I am an artist who has been studying textures, colors, size and their influence on each other; the less recognizable things in the image, the clearer and more accurate perception.
Unfortunately, the human eye immediately seeks what is recognizable and begins to think, “What is this?” “Where is the top or bottom?” “This is part of what?” And this path leads away from the correct perception of my work. I want people perceive my work as the current aesthetic fact; it has no other meaning except aesthetic. Therefore, the images are purely abstract.
For me, it is very important to capture the situation in which no human influence or that the impact was unconscious and did not wear special artistic purposes. So I will learn and explore pure eternal aesthetics of universal creation. It is important to perceive my work as if you were an alien with excellent taste, first arrived on the planet and not knowing anything about what is considered beautiful and what is not. No styles, no past, no high or low art. He doesn't even know where is the end of one thing and another begins, where the top or bottom that is made by nature and what is man-made. It’s only the slices of reality that are exposed to his gaze. And this reality is stunningly beautiful!
MICHAEL: So your work is purely aesthetic and has no other meaning. Wow. But what will art historians say about your work? Don't you want them to write profound things about your work?
KONSTANTIN: I do not create acute social and politically relevant art. I’m not engaged in commercial art in any form. To say profound things and having them are two different things. I explore manifestations of deep aesthetic codes of the universe. For me, there is nothing deeper and more important. Critics say the same things.
MICHAEL: Your work also seems to be about focusing on materials and surfaces. What do you like about materials and surfaces?
KONSTANTIN: I, like many other artists who have completed several art schools, at some point in time realized that together with knowledge and experience gained in the learning process, also received a huge amount of artistic templates.
I am interested in natural creativity without human intervention. I saw a huge number of little-known aesthetic codes with pleasure and began to examine them. I realized that if I drew a picture, I could never create anything similar to "random art" because I have many templates and clichés in my head. Random combinations of textures in nature, traces of time, properties of surfaces, illusions of foreground and background, color values, illusions of the absence of volume and their interaction with each other ... All of these things have become subjects of my thorough research.
MICHAEL: Are you in Russia? Where are you exactly? How are you inspired by your surroundings and environment?
KONSTANTIN: I live in Moscow. Moscow is very multi-layered city. Ancient architecture blends with the architecture of the Soviet period, the Soviet architecture with the modern. I was brought up in the urban environment. I like to find the point of contact of different eras. At the junction are born interesting aesthetics. It is there that I investigate. There are spontaneous connections of random surfaces and objects. I have many projects devoted to the study of urban space. There is a project investigating graffiti in the environment, there is a project about signs and communal services and the interaction between natural and unnatural.
MICHAEL: How do most Russians see contemporary art? Do they buy art or do they prefer to go to Russian museums and see the Old Masters instead? Is life hard for you as an artist?
KONSTANTIN: I don't consider myself to contemporary art. I’m only modern in form. In fact, I rather belong to the period of Russian avant-garde, futurism and constructivism of 1910-1930. As for the Russian audience, I think it is not much different from any other.
MICHAEL: Your work may be in the "style" of Russian avant-garde, futurism and constructivism. However, you are alive in 2014 not 1910-1930, so your work is contemporary. Those periods in art are gone. Only the style remains. Still, I'm wondering. How do Russians see contemporary art? How is it not different from other countries?
KONSTANTIN: That's about it I said. In Russia, as in any other country, the society is strongly stratified. Accordingly, the attitude toward art (modern art) is different. Contemporary art is not only art that’s happening today, it is also a marketing concept and a set of clichés and relations to art and to humans. So what is called this is of little interest to me.
MICHAEL: Do Russians like art that is being produced today or do they prefer the Old Masters? Do they buy art from living artists like you? How are you surviving as an artist? Do many people buy your work?
KONSTANTIN: The Russians are buying different art depending on the purpose and prosperity. There are modern artists, in which they invest money. For me, this business project is not always art in my understanding of this word. I know little about the status of commercial art in Russia, I am interested in more important and significant issues. I have my circle of connoisseurs and buyers of my art. Of course, it is much smaller, but much more intelligent. With this state of things I am absolutely satisfied. The art market does not make me. It’s my inner nature, way of existence and the meaning of my life and relationship with God!
MICHAEL: Did you want to be an artist when you were a boy growing up? Do you come from a family of artists? Where does your talent come from?
KONSTANTIN: Yes, my great-grandmother was an artist. My fate was sealed; it was difficult for me not to become an artist. I studied at art school from nine years of age. I studied at textile academy and in several art schools until the age of 26. I studied textile design. It gave me a lot in understanding rhythm and color. Later, I did lots of graphic design and advertising.
MICHAEL: How can we get more people interested in art? Many people do not buy art. How can we get them to buy art?
KONSTANTIN: Only by raising the cultural level of people. This is a very difficult task in the modern world, which tends to decline and herd behaviour. Our world is full of ready-made solutions that don’t offer personal development.
MICHAEL: Finally Konstantin, What's the point of art? Why should people who don't know much about art even care about it?
KONSTANTIN: It is a complex and controversial issue. I think everyone decides what amount of art is in his life and what level will this art be. It's hard for me to think in absolute terms, because, as I said earlier, the society is very heterogeneous. For me, art is a way of life, a way of understanding the universe and himself. It’s the path of constant discovery and delight. I am a very happy person. I know what I must do in this life.
MICHAEL: Thanks Konstantin. This has been a cool chat.
Check out Konstantin at http://againstart.wix.com/konstantinkornakov1.