“Prisoner To My Own Artistic Technique”

In case you missed it, there was a full-out Russian art invasion in Berlin last weekend. With events including the Pussyriot Benefit Exhibition and the latest Moscow/Berlin-based Galerie pop/off/art exhibition opening, I hope you got a welcomed taste of Russia beyond the borscht at Matreshka. I took advantage of this Russian influx by heading over to the Westside to meet with Vita Buivid during the build up of the “Der Klare Blick” exhibition at Galerie pop/off/art.

A Russian woman with chunky highlights in the back of her shoulder-length hair, Buivid greeted me warmly on the crisp Berlin night. She, along with the other exhibiting artists, was busy unpacking her artworks shipped in from Russia. We bonded initially over fashion: I was shocked at how perfectly her mossy-green textured coat perfectly matched her eyes, and she wanted my recommendations for the best flea markets she could scavenge for 1950s during her six-day stay in Berlin. This superficial connection quickly expanded when Buivid carefully unrolled her large canvases from their cardboard packaging before my eyes, displaying life-size oil paintings of Russian street scenes on satin. Her hybrid medium had me bursting with questions.

Artist Vita Buivid with Patricia RestrepoBAP's writer Patricia Restrepo interviewing artist Vita Buivid in Galerie pop/off/art. Photo: Chris Phillips

BAPS: Welcome to Berlin. Have you been here before?

VB: Yes, in the early 90s I was here quite often. The most pleasant thing for me in Berlin is that the leaves stay on the ground. Nobody cleans them off the streets and the parks. In Moscow and St. Petersburg, every morning someone is cleaning the leaves. Berlin is the only city I know where you have this nice possibility, so I am so happy this exhibition is in autumn. My installation [with photographs on the floor] has the same feeling for me, like scattered leaves.

BAPS: Can you tell me about your artistic roots?

VB: I started with painting at a young age. When I then picked up photography, just black and white photograph was not enough for me. All the time I wanted to add something. I tried a lot of different things with photography, like making collogues. Finally I came to this conclusion between painting and photography. Now, mostly all my projects are photographs which are painted somehow – with watercolors, oils, pencils.

For my installation in Berlin, my large-scale paintings will be mounted in industrial frames, while the floor is covered in 1993 photographs from Russian street photographers. I was a street photographer during this time for three days, but it wasn’t for me. I remained friends with the other photographers, and they mailed me hundreds of rolls of film, which I am using now. I selected my favorites to paint on satin. Some are my favorites from the fashion angle, some for their facial expression, and others are just my favorites.