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STUDIO STORIES 2020

STUDIO STORIES 2020 is a collection of short interviews with artists who have been making contemporary work during the Covid 19 pandemic. It introduces readers to the ways in which artists continue to create and adapt their practice today.
curated BY Lilach Schrag

ABOUT STUDIO STORIES 2020 - As the global health pandemic changed artists' lives and practice, Chicago-based artist Lilach Schrag found herself drawn to stories of how artists were adapting to lockdown and the new reality. The result is Lilach's curated presentation "Studio Stories 2020", hosted by Kol HaOt. "When I realized it would be impossible to have my scheduled June residency at Kol HaOt's gallery in Jerusalem, I reached out instead to colleagues and friends around the world who make contemporary art and started collecting their stories. I asked them to provide a glimpse into their mission, their methods, and their hearts. They spoke about their work, altered daily routines, challenging moments, uplifting realizations, and the ways in which they continue to create and adjust their practice during the pandemic. Individually, from their homes and their studios, they tell fascinating stories with thoughtful words and beautiful artwork. Collectively, they offer a snapshot of artists responding to the unprecedented reality of our time.” – Lilach Schrag, 2020

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dimitri pavlotsky

DIMITRI PAVLOTSKY IS A MOSCOW-BORN CHICAGO-BASED PAINTER WHOSE GESTURAL ACRYLIC WORKS ARE PSYCHOLOGICAL AND EMOTIONAL INTERIOR LANDSCAPES. THROUGH STUDIO WORK AND IMPROVISATIONAL ACTION PAINTING PERFORMANCES THAT REACT WITH LIVE MUSIC, HE EXAMINES QUESTIONS OF ESSENCE AND INDIVIDUALITY.

Trust Issues - acrylic on canvas, 68" x 50"
MY STORY BEGAN IN MOSCOW, SOVIET RUSSIA, WHERE I LIVED FOR THE FIRST 26 YEARS OF MY LIFE. THERE, MY CULTURE WAS SHAPED BY CLASSICAL RUSSIAN NOVELS AND TRADITIONAL ACADEMIC TRAINING AT THE MOSCOW INSTITUTE OF ARCHITECTURE
Having lived in the US since 1989, I am still carrying a little bit of the Soviet Union inside: a mixture of idealism and skepticism.
STUDYING ARCHITECTURE AND ACADEMIC ART BACK IN MOSCOW, I NEVER KNEW WHAT TO DO WITH MY EMOTIONS. THEN I SAW THE ART OF CHAIM SOUTINE. FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE I SAW THAT ART WAS MUCH MORE THAN DEMONSTRATION OF A SKILLED HAND. SOUTINE’S VISUAL LANGUAGE HAD THE POWER TO EXPRESS THE DRAMA OF HIS RESTLESS JEWISH SOUL.
Experimenting with visual languages has become my passion. Seeking freedom of expression, I’ve progressed from figuration to abstraction and even whimsy.
I NEVER “REMEMBERED” THAT I WAS A JEW IN ANY MEANINGFUL WAY UNTIL I WAS 39 YEARS OLD. VISITING ISRAEL FOR THE FIRST TIME, I FELT SPIRITUALITY IN MY BONES.
Seeking answers to the deepest existential questions lead me to my current Judaism. The answers I get work for a while and then they don’t anymore. But I am sticking around. Maybe I don’t want the permanent answers because if I do get them, I will stop making my art.

Making Troubles in My Head – acrylic on canvas, 62” x 50”

I work to create a place where curiosity and playful experimentation are preferred to certainties and predictable answers.

From left: A Lot is Going on in the Country – watercolor on paper, 20” x 15”; The Third Meeting - acrylic on canvas, 30” x 24”

PHYSICAL MOVEMENT IS EVERYTHING FOR ME. I PAINT AND DRAW. AND I DO IT QUICKLY. IT’S MOSTLY ABOUT MOVING ENERGY. FEAR IS STATIC AND RIGID WHILE ENERGY IS ALWAYS ALIVE AND MOVING.

SPEED TAKES ME PAST MY OWN THINKING WHERE I CAN EASILY GET BOGGED DOWN IN CONCEPTS AND IDEAS. I LET MY BODY TELL THE STORY.

I SEARCH FOR SUBCONSCIOUS ENERGY.

Scuffle – acrylic on canvas, 44” x 38”

I AM AN EXPERT IN INTERNAL CONFLICT. SO I PUT IT ON DISPLAY IN MY ART. LOOK FOR DOUBTS, INDECISION, AND MISTAKES IN MY ART. ALL ARE UNDERWRITTEN BY AN URGE TO LEAVE MARKS ON A SURFACE.

MY ART HEALS ME. THE PROCESS IS HIGHLY INTUITIVE. I NEVER KNOW THE RESULTING IMAGE IN ADVANCE. EVEN IF I PLAN THE COMPOSITION, I CHANGE IT MANY TIMES DURING THE PROCESS BEYOND RECOGNITION.

ALL I KNOW IS THE ONE NEXT MOVE, NEXT COLOR, AND THE NEXT LINE.

Dissonance – acrylic on canvas, 36” x 30”

Inside Out – acrylic on canvas, 50” x 72”

It looks like EVEN THE PANDEMIC DID NOT UNITE THE US, and even the best minds don’t agree on how to handle social unrest.

I Thought I Was Alone - acrylic on canvas, 42" x 54"
DURING THE THREE MONTHS OF LOCKDOWN IN CHICAGO, I WORKED ON SMALL WATERCOLORS SITTING AT THE TABLE AT HOME. IT WAS DIFFICULT BECAUSE I AM A HIGH-ENERGY PERSON AND PREFER TO PAINT STANDING.
In the Spotlight – acrylic on canvas, 12” x 18”
WHEN I RETURNED TO MY STUDIO, I DISCOVERED THAT:

A) I’VE ACCUMULATED TONS OF UNDIFFERENTIATED ENERGY.

B) THE FACT THAT NOBODY HAD THE “CORRECT” ANSWER TO THE PANDEMIC HELPED RELIEVE ME OF THE PRESSURE TO FIND ONE.

The combination of a) and b) is the perfect stimulus package for my creativity.
Press Conference – acrylic on canvas, 36” x 48”
EVERYTHING IS MORE ATMOSPHERIC AND LESS SECURE NOW, WHICH IS A TERRIFYING AND EXCITING VENTURING INTO THE WORLD.
Because of the ever-present fear (which to me is just another form of excitement), my strokes have become nervous and percussive.
Thursday Intuition - acrylic on canvas, 58" x 48"
My marks have become more varied: while some stayed flat as before, others became more three-dimensional or translucent, being suspended in the 3d space as opposed to being painted on a flat imagined background.
MY SHOW TITLED “IN YOUR FACE” WAS SCHEDULED TO OPEN IN MARCH 2020, BUT IT WAS CANCELLED DUE TO THE PANDEMIC. AS IS EVIDENT BY THE TITLE, I WANTED TO GET IN THE WORLD’S FACE. BUT THE WORLD GOT INTO MINE.

AND THAT’S WHAT I PAINT NOW. IT’S KIND OF COOL THAT THE WORLD TALKS BACK. OTHERWISE WHAT’S THE POINT.

The First Great Obstacle – acrylic on canvas, 32” x 24”; Reluctance to Speak – acrylic on canvas, 16” x 16”

Dimitri Pavlotsky

you can see more of dimitri's work by visiting:

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Created By
Lilach Schrag
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All images are courtesy of the artist.