Interview with Varka Kozlovic

Varka Kozlovic Fountain Pen Series Op. n.31, cm.135x120 (dettaglio), inchiostro e fili su tela

Italiano (Italian)

Translation by Marina Dlacic

Varka Kozlovic is a Slovenian artist who currently lives and works in Copenhagen. After her studies at the University of Trieste and the University of Sussex, she worked internationally in several countries, especially in Asia. She is a member of the KKS Danish Women’s Artist Association.

www.varkako.com

Acquaforte miniatures Op. n.1, cm.50×35, inchiostro, tessuto e fili su tela

Yours are abstract works in which the lines of both urban architecture and the natural world can be traced: a research on your form that starts from the observation of reality and transforms it into texture. Can you tell us about this creative process, how it was born, where does it lead and what meanings does it convey for you?

My works are abstract. They begin with the birth of a sign and the creation of patterns, and end with the discovery of organic lines and shapes, which ultimately become the protagonists on the canvas.

I am fascinated by the details and close observation, which offers the possibility of seeing the consistency of things, their complexity, microstructures and textures: the diversity. However, I am also intrigued by the observation from afar, which allows us to glimpse and interpret the lines and shapes of the global.

My interest in detail translates into the creation of textures and thicknesses through the choice and combination of different techniques and materials. The signs and textures are therefore the alphabet of my work and are born through experiments made directly on the canvas during the execution of the work itself.

The inspiration comes from different sources. The ideas for patterns and textures also come from images of repetitive patterns that I find in nature and in urban environments, both by looking at things closely and distilling from afar.  I like to observe the paths and patterns that are created as if by chance, where the aesthetic effect is not the result of a planned human intervention, but is created through natural processes and through time, which often adds harmonious imperfections.

The choice of details and the creation of textures therefore represent the initial thrust in my creative process, that of the form comes later. Giving shape to chaos or trying to derive harmony from it represents the final enigma and the final passage.

Acquaforte miniatures Op. n.1, dettaglio, cm.50×35, inchiostro, tessuto e fili su tela

You indicate the transformation – of environments, of things, of living beings – as one of your sources of reflection and inspiration: it is however closely connected to the passage of time. Could it be said, therefore, that the latter, after all, is the great protagonist of your works both in the realization and in the conceptual figure?

The concept of time, in all its facets, and the transformation over time are sources of reflection and inspiration. “Time” is in some way also at the basis of my works of the Fountain pen series, born a few years ago precisely from the desire to take back time, to slow down. Time perceived in this case as an available but limited resource.

With the first of the works in this series, the choice was to proceed according to an initial plan, with the execution of tiny repetitive signs that formed textures and motifs on a large canvas. The signs recorded the passage of time dedicated to the work, and the progression made it possible to quantify the time it would take to finish it. A simple way to quantify the time, and a tangible proof of the time found.. All this amused me, and led me to want to deepen the function of time in my creative process, and the effect of it on the final result of my works. Since the works of the Fountain Pen Series are based on a significant use of manpower, the time of their execution is very long.

The expanded temporal dimension that is necessary for the realization of these works therefore becomes a container of experiences, facts, moods, inspirations and impulses lived over time that ultimately affect the creation of the work. In carrying out the works in this series, my choice had been to let the transformative potential given by time flow freely, and to learn to grasp its final stage.

Varka Kozlovic, Fountain Pen Series Op.n. 38, (2x) cm.50×120, dettaglio, inchiostro e fili su tela

Varka Kozlovic, Back side story, Fountain Pen Series Op.n. 38, (2x) cm.50×120, inchiostro e fili su tela

Varka Kozlovic,  Fountain Pen Series Op. n.31, cm.135×120, inchiostro e fili su tela

In your artistic path you have used different artistic techniques and materials but in recent times you have increasingly made use of fibers and embroidery. A purely technical choice or are there also ‘conceptual’ reasons?

The first work of the Fountain pen series started my experimentation with textile materials, initially on canvas for painting. Mine was a purely technical choice. I started using fabric and embroidery to add color and texture to my maxi black and white drawings made with a fountain pen on large canvases.

The combination of fabrics, embroidery and hand-made signs with the fountain pen was immediately harmonious. The “coloring” through embroidery has opened up infinite possibilities for me. Suddenly, not only was I able to choose the color of the thread, but also the stitch to embroider in order to match it with the marks made with the fountain pen.

Threads and fabrics have recently gained more and more space in my works. The possibilities of this mixed technique are limitless. I find myself embroidering canvases and doing what I refused to do as a child, when in elementary school, being a girl, I was asked to embroider. I preferred doing fretwork. In fact, my interest in textile art comes from childhood: the memories of my mother and my grandmother who made original clothes for us children and for themselves.The magic of traditional clothes and embroidery of the peoples of the Balkans, which I was able to admire on several occasions as a child. As an adult I explored the gender dimension of textile art in different cultures, thanks to the profession I had carried out in a certain period of my life, and to travel and work related stays  in the various Asian countries connected to it. I find that textile art has acquired space and weight in contemporary art, but that the process of distancing from the perception of textile art as a craft or as a female hobby, started in the sixties by feminist artists, has not yet been fully resolved.

Varka Kozlovic, Fountain Pen Series Op. n.43, cm.100×100, dettaglio, inchiostro fili e tessuto su tela

Varka Kozlovic, Fountain Pen Series Op. n.43, cm.100×100, dettaglio, inchiostro fili e tessuto su tela

Varka Kozlovic,  Fountain Pen Series Op. n.43, cm.100×100, inchiostro fili e tessuto su tela

Working with embroidery allows you to read, in the back, the entire executive process – time, errors, second thoughts, stitch and step changes, etc. Is it an invitation to look at events from a different perspective, to go beyond the surface to discover a vision of the world – and of life – in its most hidden complexity?

The embroidery allows a large part of the executive process to be read on the back of the canvas. The back of the canvases becomes a register of time, decisions and second thoughts, pauses and progress, errors and solutions found. I consider it a work in itself but parallel, and in fact all my works from the “Fountain Pen series” are also part of the “Back side stories” series.

It fascinates me to think that while I am intent on executing the steps according to more or less defined plans or objectives on the front side of the canvas, on the other side, the hidden one, almost without my knowledge, random preciousness is born: a parallel story, different from that of the main side, but which contains its reflection. Perhaps less beautiful, but just as interesting, and that resonates as real. A beautiful metaphor.

Varka Kozlovic, Soft Series Op. n.9, cm.90×150, dettaglio, inchiostro e lana su tela

Varka Kozlovic, Soft Series Op. n.9, cm.90×150, dettaglio, inchiostro e lana su tela

Your works are large and made with techniques that require a lot of time consuming and therefore months can pass between the idea and the finished work. What is their genesis? How do you proceed from one to the other?

My works are large in size and require a lot of manual and repetitive work. I start from a vague idea and let myself be carried away by the creative flow. Since they take a long time to perform, I often work on multiple jobs at the same time. This satisfies my need to range between different phases of the creative process, between those that require more inventiveness and creativity, and those of pure execution.

The execution of the work itself is a constant source of inspiration, and experimentation during the work itself offers a thousand points for reflection and requires continuous solutions. The “errors” of execution and the consequent attempts to “recover” or to bring the work back to a desired harmonic level, often give unexpected results. The error becomes a source of inspiration and a moment of opportunity. My decision to experiment with materials directly on the work in progress was made precisely on the basis of the fact that errors on the work itself require immediate solutions and lead to unpredictable effects.

How much and how has your research and the poetics of your work evolved over time and in what direction is it developing and orienting? What new projects do you have in store for the future and which ones are you working on right now? 

I think I found my dimension when I started using fabrics and embroidery in the realization of my works. I am still exploring techniques and materials, and I see that the process leads me to an increasing use of soft materials. I like this space of exploration and I think I will stay there for a while. I am currently planning some experimentation with soft installations.

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