She is successful, purposeful and happy … One of the most famous Ukrainian artists Olena Onufrov, whose pictures can not be confused with others, tells her success story and plans for the future in the interview for RIA-Ukraine …
All your emotions are on canvases in your workshop. Where did it start and how did this process develop?
«Usually everything starts with a trip somewhere, I bring back emotions and new ideas for creativity. Sometimes I work outdoors during trips, but mostly I paint from memories. »
Each country is portrayed through flowers, why they?
«It’s difficult to answer. Every artist has something favorable. It does not necessarily have to be flowers, it’s also fragments of nature with flowers. I was always attracted to bright fresh shades. But flowers are probably a favorite topic. I feel them most, so I have loads of floral motifs, and most importantly, I’m not bored to paint them. »
How old were you when you started to draw? What made you career start?
«I began to paint more professionally when I was fourteen, it was time when I went to college. Before that, I had studied at art schools, painted more for myself. I recall when I was seventeen I had already painted ordered picture and sold it for $ 45, and when I graduated from the academy, I was already quite firmly standing on my feet. It all started with English landscapes. That’s what distinguished me among others, because most of them drew the scenery of the Carpathians. And I had the opportunity to visit the heart of England and see the area where Shakespeare was born. Stretched bushes in a variety of forms, stone houses, red telephone booths and charming nature inspired me. It was trip by coach so I caught every moment. I was painting there from nature. I was 20 years old and was my first trip with enormous impressions that filled me then and they still go on.»
Who are your customers?
«My paintings are in private collections of politicians, diplomats, businessmen.»
What inspires you now ? How often do you travel?
«While creating the paintings, I am inspired by travelling, and honestly, when you work every day, the ideas come. I always draw energy from travelling: if I feel tired ,I go somewhere for a few days and come back with new forces.»
What is your favorite city, country?
«I used to be very fond of Greece, and then, when we started going to Italy, we were fascinated by this country, visited it a lot. I am currently planning to go to Amalfi and Positano, in Campania, the province of Salerno. I’m not so inspired by the well-known and popular sights. I’m more interested in drawing ideas from little-known places that I encounter on the way and on the side streets and courtyards. I’m always looking for something, I can spend hours walking around and photographing.»
You are the only artist who represented Ukraine at an international exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Vienna. Tell us about this exhibition, and where else did you go?
«At the MOYA Vienna museum there were 15 painters from different countries, we represented Ukraine. I brought three works there, the ones I created after my trip to Thailand. The series was called ” Tropical dreams “, two works were on a topic of mangroves, that grow on water, and the other one with amazing palm trees. I was also visiting the ART-Dubai Exhibition – this is a well-known world exhibition, which attracts galleries and artists from around the world. The exhibition was held for three days, thanks to the Ukrainian organization “From UA” I got a chance to participate there and represent our country in a new, modern way. I brought specially depicted paintings for this exhibition, Italian landscapes and flowers. I ‘m planning to visit this exhibition next year. There was an interesting exhibition in Singapore – an art fair, two exhibitions in Istanbul, Spain, Germany, at the National Museum in Chicago, Finland. Honestly, it’s already hard to remember all the exhibits, because I am focusing more on tomorrow. »
What inspired you to create the brand?
«One day, when walking in the Carpathians with my friend Inna Katyuschenko, we came to the idea of transferring floral motifs from paintings to fabrics. The history of the brand Couture de Fleur began almost five years ago, as a result, we have got a collection of exclusive silk scarves. Later Inna came up with the idea of creating clothes … Color, inspiration, passion and femininity are the main characteristics of my works, and in combination with simple lines cut out refined clothing became the main direction of the brand. For the first time the brand was introduced at the 38th Ukrainian Fashion Week in 2016. We created dresses, happy to wear ourselves. The first mono-branded store was opened in Lviv, then a showroom in Germany, Kassel, Prague, and Slovenia. Now there is a big store in Kiev. We are in the process of creating accessories for men: ties, butterflies, even men’s underwear. Brand’s geography is expanding : we are opening in Cyprus. Prints and the brand stands out among others because there is a 3D image effect, since the paint on the canvas is overlaid with a spatula and it has this special effect. »
Do you create a collection of clothes with prints of your paintings? How does this happen?
«I do not create paintings specifically for fabrics. I draw what I want and as I see it, then Inna and myself think over and choose elements for new collections, after that graphic designers make the design of the fabrics from the painting, all of it goes to Italy, the city Como, and they print fabrics there.»
Couture de Fleur Client: who is she?
«She is romantic, sophisticated, self-confident. Many customers are engaged in business, sometimes not quite feminine, so they want to dress in flowers, because they add femininity and energy and positive emotions.»
Which Ukrainian celebrities wear your brand?
«Tina Karol chose a fabric with lavender prints and Gardens of the Medici, Kateryna Osadcha wore our dresses, Zlata Ognevich is the face of the brand. Women like fine things. Every woman sees herself in flowers and petals … »
What are your favorite flowers?
«I love peonies and lavender. This year I want to see more of lavender plantations and discover these flowers in a new way. »
How do you start your day?
«My day begins with coffee in bed, then I workout, go to the office of Couture de Fleur, in the afternoon I paint. Now I have the opportunity to give myself some time. Previously, it was impossible, because I worked a lot. It took me ten years to make a career. »
Is it difficult to combine family and work?
«I always have little time. I’m always in a hurry, but I spend the weekend with my children. We travel together. I see my children happy and satisfied in life, I feel their love. My eldest son wakes up at eight o’clock in the morning and goes painting. I must admit that I did not have such a craving for painting when I was his age. »
What are the plans for the next 5 years?
«Maybe, we will welcome another child into the family. I also plan to master the market in Dubai, to concentrate more on this. I would like to open monobrand stores in Austria and Germany. Also, I want to travel even more and paint from nature.»
Are you a happy woman?
«Yes, of course, I am. I have everything: a loved one, children and a job that brings pleasure.»
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