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Inside the Studio: Roman Antopolsky

Roman Antopolsky, a multifaceted artist hailing from Argentina, delves deeply into the realms of visual arts, sound, and writing. His work transcends traditional boundaries, exploring the intricate relationship between materiality and immateriality, and constantly questioning the necessity and form of expression. In this interview, Roman shares profound insights into his artistic journey, the philosophical underpinnings of his creations, and the ever-evolving nature of his practice. Join us as we step inside Roman's studio to uncover the layers of thought and process behind his compelling artworks.


Roman Antopolsky in Studio


Read on to learn more in an exclusive interview with Roman Antopolsky :

 

1. Can you share what initially drew you to painting and drawing as a means of exploring the immaterial space of pre-awareness?


Of course. First of all, I‘d like to say that pre-awareness or immaterial space are not necessarily technical terms, however technical they may indeed sound. I refer at times to pre-awareness or immaterial space among other terms throughout my writing to convey an overall sentiment of art as a process, as well as a series of instances in the realisation of whatever one might call and see as an artwork, rather than a product or an item that results from planning, materializing, and finally releasing to the public. In such a context, I believe that you’ll never be, as an artist, someone who executes an idea only, no matter whether the idea is sensorial, conceptual, figurative in nature or abstract, performative, conceived as a response, intended to be an installation, etc. One might be in possession of a skill but not of the reality where the work will find its place and in which it will remain alive.

Now, going back to that immaterial space of pre-awareness—this I understand as a sphere that precedes any particular choice or concrete material arrangement, including a mental one. Your sense of awareness comes from a sense of direction, meaning that the work is moving forward, crossing thresholds, producing steps to continue changing. You’ll never be aware of what you are doing, in any strong sense, but you will be aware that the work is a fact and that choices have been made—sketching, thinking, using a medium in particular, narrowing its scope, mixing it with something else, ruling it out, etc. With pre-awareness, I don’t mean to refer to an unconscious or instinctive impulse to act on one or another medium, but to a space where choices and possibilities, all of them, remain potential, not taken, latent. I don’t have access to it as if this were a drawer you can open and see and select your ideas and materials of choice. We are not talking of a hidden or not yet open storage.


Roman Antopolsky - Typos 8.48

At this point, one might suspect that this is close to what’s referred to as “culture” or a dimension of history where tendencies, intersections, differences, and commonalities lie, and it is. Still, to keep this within the perspective of art, this space precedes the artwork, and is present as the work is made and, of course, after the work is in the “world,” and beyond that, it becomes part of it. Art is a practice, in contrast to theoretical knowledge. It is embodied. And because it is ingrained in materiality, there are constant choices to be made and tendencies to be actualized that are immediately seen and tangible (which doesn’t imply being taken at face value or interpreted once and for all, at all).


In my case, drawing and painting take me, both in different ways, to this space as an inquiry into why this particular way of expression, for example drawing a shape, is what happens and not writing a word. I’ve always seen the visual arts as a question. Literally, as something that poses itself as an inquiry about its own material necessity.



Roman Antopolsky - Typos 6.23


2. What role do reality’s circumstances and your affinity with the “future” play in shaping your artistic vision and creations?


The circumstances in which our life happens condition us all throughout. But an equally determinant feature is what has not happened yet, as well. I don’t intend to imply something concrete that will take place, or a destiny, or a finality of any sort. The future is outside of time. It does not exist. Yet. An inextinguishable vertigo, impossible to conceptualize and devoid of any content, is constantly happening and, paradoxically, present. It’s a pure present with no reality. Magical and scientific thinking alike actively look for conjuring it by predicting and making those predictions as accurate as possible, though unable to cover up that permanent lack of existence, woven into our reality as it is. One way of interpreting it is chance. Because art creates and we find ourselves with something becoming, in our own hands, it is almost impossible, it seems to me, not to reflect at some point, even if in passing, on how something I make or think becomes. This future—chance and randomness apparently only capable of inadvertent actions—does not cease to enter and somehow shape what we do.


Roman Antopolsky - Sentence

3. How do you navigate the space where images, words, and thoughts are drawn from? Can you describe your process of bringing these elements into your artwork?


One always redirects to another. I’ve never been able to stick to one form only. If I write, a simultaneous need of drawing shapes on a 2D representation happens, or a sequence of sounds will lead to a pattern which then will give rise to ways of sustaining it or deviating from it. Although not languages on their own, whatever I do in visual/conceptual art, sound/music practice, and writing is permeated by translation, or better put, an idea of translation. There is no translation happening per se, but it is the closest analogy I can find. It is a continuation of one by the practice of the other in that instance where one is no longer enough to express what has been shown as a possibility in the other. You wouldn’t be literally translating sound into meaningful words or visual designs, and vice versa, but continuing it. I guess the model of languages works for me here to point out how this is done one after another, that is, consecutively, but also all of it then being put together, at the same time, simultaneously. I grew up in Argentina in an immigrant family where different languages were spoken, between my house, my grandparents’, and school. And I guess that coexistence of codes simultaneously different and identical is a powerful metaphor.


Roman Antopolsky - S

4. You describe your art as inherently im-perfect and open. How do you embrace this concept in your creative process, and what does it mean to you?


I would say that all art is imperfect and open. The word “open” is sometimes applied to art and writing nowadays with a sense of purposely leaving it “open” as in not producing an all-encompassing statement that would bring it closure. In my case, I don’t mean it as a strategy for the receiver or viewer to be wondering how to interpret it or having the need to rush and catch up with some knowledge not acquired yet that, once in possession of, would bring that work closer; or keeping the perception in “suspense” (not solving a plot, a dissonance, juxtaposing different drawing styles). I take the word “perfect” as meaning something “done,” whose factuality has come to an end, has become a fact. Whereas a work of art continues to be a process, even after the person who made it decided to stop it, which is more of an interruption than anything else. And showing it, framing it, speaking of it in the past, canonizing it, are simply different stages that can very well become meaningless or bring the work to a different light. In any case, a work, because of its material stance, can always be continued, and considered in the social and public sphere, endlessly change. “Open” to me in this context is that the work is never closed (nor is it that close, in fact). This leaves me with one more instance of lack of control over what I do, which I embrace.


5. How do you approach the materiality of your work, and how do you see the limits and possibilities of your chosen mediums?


That’s a great question! The materiality and the medium you use are basically that, limits. They provide the first and palpable constraint for the art process to be carried out. They don’t define it but constitute the first obstacle. There is nothing negative about it. On the contrary. Soon your thoughts, of course, become part of the materiality of the work when they transform into clear objectives and a sort of program to follow. What’s important, I think, is to keep in mind that while making art, we are not in the presence of an individual who conceives of something, which is the result of addressing an interior or exterior setting, who then proceeds to plan how to communicate that idea in a creative way, chooses tools and materials, executes said plan, and shows it, explains it. At all moments chance, limitations, uncertainty, and unforeseeable outcomes sculpt and actively, however devoid of agency, intervene. That said, I find that the possibilities are the other side of the limits, and that they expand even more when you jump to a different type of expression—from painting to sound, from sound to writing, from writing to drawing, from drawing to conceptualising. Compared with each other, they are pure limitations to be surpassed; drawing with charcoal provides you with an endless range of contrasts, using colors will take that contrast into a less self-sufficient resource and add the factor of light which will interact with other aspects of that work, and generating those contrasts by arranging the dynamics of a sequence of sounds against a pattern generated by a beat sequencer will introduce an idea of movement closer to the first charcoal drawing.


Roman Antopolsky - Cutout IV.10

6. How do your thoughts and ideas evolve from the initial concept to the finished piece? Can you describe a specific artwork that underwent significant changes during this process?


Last year I worked on a series of canvases alongside sound pieces, encompassed by a conceptual “fabric.” I find in the letter, and in the act of writing a letter, a sort of graphic unit, an irreducible element that could either continue as drawing or as writing—and in that sense become a work framed by a visual code or, on the other hand, words or clusters of them, in which case the work will be signaled out by meaning; regardless of whether it is meaningful or meaningless—since words carry meaning. At the same time, the written letter stands for a specific phoneme, and this again might lead to a sound within a linguistic—signifying—chain of sounds, or not, and it could become music, noise, a sound sculpture. I wrote, on big canvases, one only letter over and over, covering the whole surface, a different one for each canvas. I also recorded the sound of writing that letter, the rubbing of the pen on the canvas, my walking around it while working on it, or sounding it out. I created loops of these sound pieces, one for every letter, and mounted an installation with each sound piece being played on top of its respective visual piece. I showed it with a text I wrote as I was working on it, which in fact changed quite a lot over time. Now in this work, the changes were, at least on the level of the surface (the image on the canvas, the sound loop), a constant rearrangement of the patterns as I continued filling out the canvases. I could have stopped at any time, leaving blank spaces, or continued writing to make it more and more dense, but of course new patterns would always emerge. The only remarkable change I arrived at, however, was rethinking the relationship between meaning and the materiality of its reproduction. This gave rise to a new series of works.


Roman Antopolsky - "Cutout II.20"

7. In what ways do social structures influence your art, and how do you address these themes within your work?


To quickly respond to this—if a social structure expresses a patterned and organized way of relating and interacting of human beings (in a society, and there is no other possible context for humans to live in), that is, family, class, religion, economy, education, etc., which constantly determines us all, this will not escape the practice of art, of course. That said, I wouldn’t know how to refer to it in the context of a specific work or artist in a way other than anthropological or sociological. As for me in particular, I see art as part of a larger set of rules which integrate into one of these types of institutions (family, legal system, class structure, etc., that is, construction of meaning); you could call it “public life” for lack of a more precise word. By life I don’t mean that of a living being. It is the sphere of what’s meant to be or become public, from artworks to advertisement to social media—icons that came to exist as images, that come to life, stay alive (public), and act as a living example (beyond words and assertions about human interaction). The reality of these living images is self-sufficiency. I guess I‘m often still guessing how these icons interact among each other.


Roman Antopolsky - B

8. How does your concept of the “future” influence your artistic practice, and how do you see your work evolving in the coming years?


As years pass, I’d say I learned to see art as a practice, as you very well put it. A practice in which the work is only a part of it. And the “future,” as that “present non-existence” I was pompously talking about before, as chance or any other figure of action that escapes us, contributes to shape it. As for the coming years, I hope to deepen into finding the representation of a common ground for image, meaning, and space.


Roman Antopolsky - Typos 3.78


9. What do you hope viewers take away from your work, and how do you see them interacting with the incomplete and open nature of your art?


I hope they find in my work that the work changes as they do.


10. What are you currently working on, and are there any upcoming projects or exhibitions you are particularly excited about?


I’m currently working on installations, specifically putting together argumentation and space. I’m also eagerly participating with other people in playing music/making sound or drawing in a context of free improvisation. Beginning in July, I’m having an exhibition in Pittsburgh, called Grammar, which consists mainly of photographs and the interaction of these images with the space where they are shown.


Roman Antopolsky in Studio

Roman Antopolsky's exploration of art is a profound journey through materiality, thought, and the boundaries of expression. His insights reveal an artist deeply engaged with the process, embracing imperfection, chance, and the ever-present interplay between mediums. Roman's work invites viewers to witness the ongoing evolution of art, where the future and the present coexist in a dynamic, open-ended dialogue. As we conclude this interview, we look forward to seeing how his innovative practice continues to unfold and inspire.


 

You can learn more about Roman Antopolsky and his work via these links: Website: https://antopolsky-roman.net/ Instagram: @romanantopolsky Artsy: https://www.artsy.net/artist/roman-antopolsky

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