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Belgium based Russian artist Masha Trotzky’s way of tackling current affairs and globalisation is through extremely original works which may include amongst others; food shaped into political signs, a hat made of a McDonalds cardboard box or a face inside a fruit basket. She portrays social issues with a humorous, irreverent and critical angle which makes total sense when we are in a world where messages and opinions are constantly mixed and confused.
We met Russian artist Masha Trotsky through her participation in #Tribe international art festivals organised by Chrom.Art in London. Her distinctive work and unusual mix of different media instantly grabbed our attention. Masha’s extraordinary quality work has cemented a successful art career which includes many international exhibitions across Europe, prestigious photographic awards such as ‘Best Photographer of Russia’- 2010 and Aesthetica Art Prize -2015.
We interrupt her busy schedule as she finalises her PhD in Fine Art and prepares new international solo shows, including London, to talk about creating art in the uberconnected world of today.
Where did your interest in art originated and how did you start creating artworks?
I was born an artist, was drawing since the age of 3 or 4, as long as I can remember as myself – I was always sculpturing, sewing something, constructing from papier mache. I never had a choice of profession or any other options & passions. It was destiny – this profession has chosen me.
You are a multidisciplinary artist focusing in different mediums. It is not so usual to find photography and jewellery produced by the same artist, can you talk to us about this two very different disciplines?
I’m a storyteller. It doesn’t really matter by what means the story will be told – whether it will be a series of photos, a vector illustration, objects made of stretch vinyl or jewellery sculptures – the story itself, the plot, the characters, the feelings are important. Artistic means is only the language of expression.
You are Russian but currently based in Belgium, you have also exhibited in London in many occasions. Do you find it easier to connect with audiences in Russia or across other European countries?
To tell the truth, I felt a little bit locked in Russia, because it is geographically far away from the entire world, it took a lot of time and money to fly with an exhibition to Europe – I was flying with exhibition to Italy and Spain quite often, but it was not easy.
I don’t see any specific difference in audience’s reaction. Mentally Russia is a part of Europe, especially the intellectual circles that visit art exhibitions. Italian audience is traditionally much warmer, more excited about art. Other exhibition visitors have no special differences.
What are the main topics you are interested in reflecting through your art?
My first art series were about Globalization, migration and human stereotypes.
Now I switched to the phenomenon of Social networks. I really think that gadgets brought a new language of communication and that social networks seriously change not only contemporary aesthetic, but also our mentality and moral standards.
I would like to study this phenomenon, to reflect it in artistic way.
Many of your artworks portray a very strong sense of humour how did this become a part of your art?
The sense of humour is like a lust. It’s difficult to imitate it, hard to hide.
Can you tell us a bit more about your creative process for instance that you wake up in the morning and you say today I’m going to create jewellery or I’m going to take photography? How does that work for you?
First of all I work at night, till 4-5 a.m. very often, so I don’t wake up in the morning – I go to bed. I honestly prefer to sleep when the human majority is marching together somewhere. I don’t like marches and crowds.
There are 2 ways to create art projects; either you start from the idea/concept, or it comes from the dream, emotion or aesthetics.
In the first case, you are inspired by some phenomenon and you start looking for a metaphor that would reflect it in artistic way. You are looking for a decision.
In the second case, you are emotionally inspired by something, start creating art intuitively and then discover and describe a concept.
Normally art comes from subconscious, it cannot and shouldn’t be made consciously, it is like dictated by someone above.
There can only be some professional secrets how to put yourself in trance – I don’t use drugs of course, but sometimes it helps to be exhausted, very tired late at night or just woke up and very sleepy. Coffee and cigarettes help too.
Coming back to jewellery, what are your favourite metals or materials to work with, and why?
I definitely prefer silver to gold; I never wear gold by myself and I adore to cut silver. It is a physical pleasure and meditation.
But in most cases I work with polymer clay, love sculpture.
In children art school, I was the best student in sculpture class and wanted to be a sculptor of course, but everybody told it was too hard for a woman. Now I’m a sculptor in mini format in jewellery dimentions.
Who would you say have been your main artistic influences or sources of inspiration?
I don’t think anyone really has been. I was very inspired by Soviet sculptor Vadim Sidur in my childhood, spent a lot of time in his museum. He was called Russian Henry Moore. I always liked Pop Art. But I had no concrete idols.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
Well, I’m finalizing a project about Social networks, the first part of it is represented in SAAS London gallery, but I still continue this work.
And I will have to finalize my PhD project, it is also PhD in Fine Art – my project as sort of film about stereotypes and National Identity: film, video art and a huge installation pillows created from fetish materials. That’s how PhD or artist looks like.
Is there a dream collaboration or a specific type of future project you would want to achieve as an artistic life goal?
I would be happy to collaborate with Jean Paul Gaultier or Alexander McQueen.
I was underestimating fashion in my youth, thought it was primitive, glamorous, too girly – now I find that it is a sort architecture in fabric, a tissue sculpture.
I became a crazy hatter. The creation of hats, accessories and costumes attracts me more and more. I would definitely do something scale in this area. For fashion or theatre maybe.
Nothing casual, no way – I’m interested in constructing images of people of the Future.