The popular Ukrainian duo Interesni Kazki, Aleksei Bordusov (AEC) and Vladimir Manzhos (Waone), announced they are not a duo anymore. This message was a shock for their fans, but every ending is a new beginning… Interesni Kazki world will exist in different form. Iryna Kanishcheva, the curator of 352walls, took an interview with the guys while they were painting in Gainesville.
I first learned about you 10 years ago, from your mural on a psychiatric hospital … Why did you decide to paint there?
A. It was for a festival. Several Ukrainian artists were invited from Kiev, Ternopil… Patients were also allowed to paint.
V. The program was called, “Art therapy.”
It was probably the first attempt of a street art festival. How many years have you been painting together? 15? Starting from classical graffiti?
V. Yes, something like that. We painted at the canal, everybody painted there…
A. It was the concrete bank of the Lybid river.
How did you meet each other?
V. Everyone asks about it. In every interview!
Of course, you work together. All duo’s are usually asked how they met!
A. It was some graffiti school … Legal place for graffiti.
V. Graffiti club…
A. A sort of “Club for Young Technicians,” something for enthusiasts…
V. Who do not paint on walls, but just sit around drinking tea and drawing sketches.
You could have found anyone else to go paint trains with but you chose each other…
A. We had not painted trains yet. We started painting trains when I met the CVK crew, they are graffiti artists from Kiev. They told us about real graffiti: trains, streets. Then we came up with the idea to go paint on the streets.
What year was it?
V. In 2001, I think. On the Republican Stadium, to be exact – in front of the stadium, the roof-top unit. That was our first experience of graffiti in the street.
Interesni Kazki. Old-school graffiti. Courtesy of Waone
Many artists do collaborations sometimes in order to learn something, to get some fresh ideas or just for fun… How do you guys influence each other? Did you collaborate with other artists?
A. To me, in order to learn something we need to do something separately and then bring it in our mutual work. For some reason I do not really like to do collaborations. It’s hard to find a general tone of the work, to get the final piece and not have the styles overlapped… It is necessary to plan and design it very well, but festivals do not provide such an opportunity.
V. I have worked with many artists but I rather taught them, than learned something myself. I do not regret it – in any case it is an invaluable experience. Sometimes it is a pleasure to work with an artist just because of their personality. There is also such a thing as borrowing ideas from other artists, in other words theft…
Incidentally, O.bra [Urban Art Festival in Latin America] produces only collaborations…
A. Yes, we were going to collaborate with Liqen, but he changed his mind at the last moment, because he said it was too commercial of a project.
I know he would prefer studio work to murals; but murals help studio artists to get more recognition, don’t you think?
V. It is not a motivation to be recognized.
A. Not the correct motivation, it’s not about art. It shouldn’t be done for fame, but simply for pleasure.
How do artists and muralists become famous and get invited by all the known festivals, like you?
V. We have never thought about it. We are often asked, “How do you find clients?” But we never even thought about them, they always find us.
What was the first festival you painted outside of Ukraine for?
A. We first went all over Ukraine, then in 2009 were invited to the Poliniza festival in Valencia, Spain.
Escif, BLU, Deih. Valencia, Spain 2012
I know that in Valencia, same as in Buenos Aires, the police don’t really care about graffiti writers. Therefore, there is an opportunity to practice and there are a lot of good works on the streets. Deih, Escif, Hyuro… all grew up there. After this festival, you probably started to be invited to other cities?
A. Yes, we then painted again in Spain, in Seville, then had an exhibition in Leon…
Likewise, Living Walls Conference gave opportunity for many artists. For example, Elian or Pastel who did their first walls outside their country. Have you noticed such a peak after which you become popular?
V. I do not know, it seems to me we are still not popular. Popularity – it’s when you have a schedule booked two years in advance.
A. This is the flip side of the street art world, creating the illusion of popularity. In fact, one artist can do nothing and not even have really good skills, but to be popular.
V. When I first participated in the festival, in Spain, we met with one of the founders of Montana. He told us about the difference between the American and European model of street art. America is where everyone wants to simply be a cool artist, like a star…
Interesni Kazki. Miami, Wynwood 2013
Yes, you can come to the Wynwood (Miami, FL), to do a small piece and become known. It’s not so hard.
A. In America street art has become very popular the last few years.
V. In Ukraine we only know Banksy, I remember for long time we were always being asked, “Are you familiar with Banksy?”
I would say, Banksy is the only street artist who most people know (see video What Do You Know About Street Art, Gainesville)
A. To me, Banksy looks more like some sort of public agency, not a person but some social advertising. Even though he is an artist, but without the artistic components.
To me, he’s just a good businessman, or rather a show man.
V. For me, it’s not worth attention. It’s like some sort of spam.
What do you think about the trendy opinion that street art is dying out? Many people got tired of the regular street art projects and are trying to make their project special, somehow. Many artists no longer feel themselves as a part of a project.
V. Yeah the last year I’ve thought about it and it’s all come to an impasse: there is no time or possibility to create something extraordinary. Like many years ago muralists were painting one mural for a long time. I would like to do something like this, to work on a wall for months at a time.
Besides murals, what else would you be interested in doing? Such as, Installations, for example?
A. I would like to do sculpture. To publish a book, a collection of paintings, walls, canvas, and texts.
Do you collect your sketches?
V. Not many. I just keep some rare such as older ones dated back to 2007.
A. There are some that are especially valuable that are done with another technique. Even if I wanted to I would not be able to replicate it.
When did you switch from cans to acrylic paint?
A. In Mexico City, 2012. We ordered some paint, but there was something totally different purchased and we decided to not waste our time waiting and try the bucket paint. The wall was huge…
V. We did some details using spray, but in general there were mostly rollers and brushes.
A. Later, we decided to try again and realized it is a hundred times better than spray paint. Brushes give more opportunities to work on the details. When you use cans, you depend on technique and caps…
Do objects in your paintings change depending on the material you use?
V. Spray paint is an instrument that depends on technique, brush is a universal tool of the ages.
Well, aside from classical graffiti.
A. By the way, the Brazilian old school graffiti was done by brushes and rollers, spray paint was too expensive.
The final question: How did you like Gainesville?
A. It’s a quiet little town, fresh air, especially after New York City. Also, people were more friendly and came up to us asking questions and expressing their emotions about the mural. It reminded me of when we painted in a small Ukrainian town called, Huliaipole. After big cities, it was like another dimension. People are very different, but we liked it.
V. It is my first time in a small American town. I’ve only seen it on TV. I feel like I’m in the show, Twin Peaks, not in Gainesville. In fact, I really liked Gainesville.
You started your collaborative mural from two different sides and finished in the middle. Is that how you always work?
A. Simply put, we each do our part. For example, in São Paulo, I started from the top and Vladimir from the bottom. Later we finished some details.
Did you discuss the sketch for Gainesville? Prepared somehow?
V. We did not have time for this. Right before Gainesville we had a show in New York, all our thoughts were only about the exhibition and the preparation for it [Jonathan LeVine Gallery (INTERESNI KAZKI SACRED GRAVITATION)].
A. On the one hand it is good when there is such spontaneity, on the other hand difficult to draw without a thought-out plan.
I think it turned out great! Thank you for participating in our project!
Gainesville, Florida. The last collaborative mural. 352walls 2016