CosmicTwist Studio is a showcase of my recent artwork, and a forum for exploring new ideas.
My name is Olga Lysenko, and I am the creator of the art pieces documented here. I completed my education in Canada, attending OCAD and York University, and attained a Master’s in Visual Art. Thereafter, I created art pieces for individual exhibitions comprised of my work, featured across Ontario. I was lucky enough to have invitations to curated shows, government production grants and artist residences. However encouraging this success may have been, I was missing one key ingredient in translating my artwork into sustainable income – a business mindset. It is an interesting dichotomy that plagues many of the most creative minds – creating art yields freedom, while marketing ourselves chains us down. While debating how to mesh these two opposing forces inside me, I spent my time teaching, raising a family and working as an instructor at various arts schools and institutions. I still do that to this day and find it fulfilling to share my skills with others who are interested in making art. I have been lucky enough to travel a lot, and although this diverted time away from studio, it also brought fresh perspectives and inspiration into my practice.
I was trained as an installation artist, and my earlier work involved completely transforming spaces to give the viewer an immersive sensory experience. The use of materials rich in texture and colour and intertwined by lights and shadows, are critical for infusing the scenes I create with a dream-like quality. Recently, I began incorporating wax sculptures into my work, sometimes in combination with found objects and recycled displays. I am completely entranced with an almost mystical inner glow that wax surfaces possess. Simultaneously, the long-standing fascination with vividly coloured lights has found an expression in my current photography series.
Art speaks for itself: the less is said about it, the more genuine the experience. Thus, in the past, I have used metaphors and spoke with veiled anonymity when it came to describing what I do and why I do it. However, at this juncture in my life, I have made a conscious effort to be more open about myself and my creative process. An introvert by nature, navigating the social networking world of art has never appealed to me, and by creating this space to present my work online, I feel I now have a platform to begin engaging with others in a meaningful way. My hope is to introduce some context for the pieces on this website. Having talked briefly about the physical characteristics of my work, I will probe the sources and the motivation for the act of making art and the themes that surface. My cultural heritage has a great influence on my work, for it has etched powerful memories into my mind that add a metaphysical layer to many of my art pieces. For the fear of sounding trite or self-centred, I will make the foray into my origins as poetic and succinct as possible.
My story begins in a country with closed borders, where socialism reigned supreme, having reached the pinnacle of its self-ascribed success. Raised in stark material simplicity and fed on empty slogans, the youth were expected to worship the ruling ideology with religious fervour. Early memories hover somewhere in the periphery of the walls with peeling paint and the dilapidated grandeur of the beautiful city, which in the course of its tragic history, has undergone many names and transformations. For the inhabitants of this “Cradle of the Revolution”, along with bitter hardships and injustices, the reverence for classical literature, music and architecture was ingested with mothers’ milk. Life was good, for there was no knowledge of anything else. However, somewhere behind closed doors, hidden deep in the underground, there were whispers, hints of an existence so different, so tempting… with endless offerings for every taste.
The rumours were true. When I arrived in the West as a refugee during my impressionable teen-age years, the contrast to the bleak and uniform world of my childhood was shocking. The new world around me was full of mystery its surfaces seemed polished to unnatural lustre, technicoloured and airbrushed, the tantalizing scenes of plenitude conspiring to impose a sense of fleeting bliss. A dizzying array of choices and ideas were available and in perpetual display – everything from material goods to belief systems, from gurus to idols, everything in sight vying to be bought or sold.
This point of entry into an unfamiliar culture has galvanized my imagination, and although the intensity of the experience has slowly faded, the quest for freedom and enchantment has guided me in my life choices, and artistic creations. My sculptures verge at the intersection of suffering and pleasure, and in a playful cosmic twist of fate they mourn the loss of innocence while shamelessly attempting to indulge the senses.
I hope you find your own way of connecting with my work and would be curious to hear your impressions through my feedback page. Visit my blog to hear more stories, and my store to view or own my latest pieces.
Olga Lysenko was born in Leningrad, Soviet Union, and currently lives and works in Toronto, Canada. She holds a B.Ed and M.F.A. degrees. She has travelled extensively and exhibited her work in galleries and non-traditional spaces.