Photocarrefour Africa - Artists Meet and Exhibit - Interview

On 11 July 2020, our main photographer's (Vadims Pjatrikovs') artwork was showcased at an amazing photography exhibition - the Second Edition of the Photocarrefour ARTIST meet & Exhibit Exhibition at the PHOTOCARREFOUR GALLERY in Abuja, Africa. As part of this, organisers have arranged an interview with him. Read on if you'd like to know the answers to some commonly asked questions about his practice and his most popular artworks.

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P: Can you tell us about you, who you are and what you do?

V: My name is Vadims Pjatrikovs. I am a still-life photographer and a light painter, passionate about controlling the light.

I have over 15 years of experience as a professional photographer. I was working on different commercial and still life photography projects in London, UK, for the last 10 years.

There is always something new and innovative happening in my art world. And what makes my style recognizable today is this special oil painting look of my photography artwork.

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P: Thank you for sending in your works for the Second Edition of the Photocarrefour ARTIST meet and Exhibit. You sent in three images (Red Dots, Brothers, Gathers). These are still life images, the first thing one will notice is the aesthetics, the colours, light and composition. But you have left subtle messages in your work, for instance, the motion blur on what looks like red berries placed in an urn in the image RED DOTS, also a withering yellow flower and lemon in the image BROTHERS. Can you tell us about the significance of this and your choice of these elements?

V: OK, let me tell you a bit of a backstory about Red Dots. I wanted to try something new in still life - namely to bring a bit of movement into still life photography. That is how the idea for Red Dots was born. I fell in love with these berries the moment I saw them, as they have a very unusual shade of red to it. I knew that this tone would fit nicely with the subtle green vase so decided that I must take a photo of these two together in one composition.

As for the image Brothers - what unites these two (from the first site) unrelated objects - it is mainly the shade of yellow that they share. And the fact that life in them is slowly fading away but is still very strong. This tone of yellow plays nicely with a deep blue shade of the background which makes the yellow narcissus and lemon truly stand out.

P: You mentioned about the complex technique of how you achieved these images, and the various layering in Photoshop to create these compositions.  Can you tell us why you choose such a complex yet very effective technique?

V: The technique I work in is called light painting. It is very similar in a way with old school painting, the only difference is that instead of brush and oil colours I use a torch and light.

Every photo I make takes 6-8 hours to produce. The speed of the torch movement, the angle, the distance to the object and the direction of the light - they all affect the end result. Every object is lit individually in almost complete darkness, and these images are then layered together in Photoshop. 

The reason I chose this technique is that you can only achieve such resulting images via using this method. This way, photography starts to resemble ancient oil paintings whilst still remaining photography.

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P: You were originally a painter who transitioned into photography, can you tell us how your background in painting has shaped your photography style and choice, also tell us about how the painting of well-known masters of the 17th century such as Juan de Zurbarán, Willem Heda and Willem Kalf have influenced this pieces of work

V: I was studying at art school, studying everything from classical drawing to oil painting. Every such piece has put a foundation for my technique that I apply today. 

I have always admired the paintings of well-known masters of the 17th century such as Juan de Zurbarán, Willem Heda and Willem Kalf. I always admired still life paintings from the 17th century, but as a painter, I was looking at how I could speed the process up, as making a single painting took a lot of time. I have tried different techniques and methods and one day decided to try photography as a tool to achieve the result. 

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P: What do you hope people take away from seeing these images?

V: Over the years I came to a conclusion not to put any particular idea or description into each photograph - I would rather allow people's mind to interpret what they see in my artworks.. I've shown my artwork to a lot of people and asked them "What do you see?". And I was pleasantly surprised by all the different answers that I got. Today, I am sure that it is close to impossible to imagine what different people will see in the exact same artwork. 

So, next time we see each other, don't ask me to tell you about my artwork, as I will most likely ask you instead "What do you see?"


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