Olga Radionova: No choice but to be an artist
Fibre Arts Take Two had the privilege of talking to Ukrainian textile artist Olga Radionova about her journey into textile art.
Olga Radionova’s Friday Feature Artist Interview can be found at the bottom of this page.
Born in Ukraine, Olga Radionova is a textile artist, designer and sculptor. Coming from a creative family, she graduated from the National Academy of Fine Arts in Kyiv, was selected to participate in the International Art Textile Biennale Belgium and is a member of the professional arts union of Ukraine.
Olga has participated in more than 30 collective exhibitions across Europe and Ukraine and has had more than ten personal exhibitions. Her artistic evolution must be described as one of transformation, with early beginnings in watercolour and oil painting, exploring jewellery making and wood bronze sculpture. She eventually found her true passion in textile sculptures. Fibre Arts Take Two was privileged to talk to Olga from her home in Kyiv.
Olga says she had no choice but to be an artist, “My father is a sculptor,” she says, “He’s quite well-known in Ukraine, and for all my life, I was inspired by his art, but he’s not the only one.”
It wasn’t only Olga’s father who was artistically inclined. “My mum also used to work as a fashion designer,” Olga says, “but when she was very young when she chose this profession. It was the Soviet period, and fashion was not popular in this era, so she went to the theatrical world. She worked in theatre with costumes, with designs of decorations and all this sort of stuff. So I spent most of my childhood at her studio with all these magical surroundings. For me, it was really like a fairy tale. I saw costumes and lots of jewellery there, which was fantastic. It gave me a big push to my imagination because I saw how people created these beautiful pieces.
Also, my grandfather was an artist! He was a painter, so when I went for my summer vacation to my grandparents, I always drew flowers and birds, and it was also a part of my life. All my childhood was surrounded by artists and people who create something from nothing.”
Discovering a passion
When Olga discovered her deep love of art, it was a transcendent moment, “Actually, when I understood that art was my passion,” she says, “I felt that I could do anything with my hands, and that gave me a lot of power. I was searching for this creative language, so I decided to study all kinds of techniques, and first of all, the most obvious was oil painting and acrylic painting. I spent many years developing this ability, technique, and knowledge. Then I went to watercolour because I knew that watercolour is one of the most difficult techniques to achieve. For me, it was a challenge to start using watercolour professionally. Well, I always take everything like a challenge for myself!”
Olga loves the surprises that come from the creative process, “When I create something,” she says, “I have been amazed by the process and the result because, being honest, you never know what you will achieve in the end. For me, it is always like a journey to nowhere. Of course, I know what I want to achieve, but the material always shows a different way.
For example, it always depends on the kind of material I use because some can be stretched, some are more solid, more firm, and some materials are transparent. All these qualities help me to find the most beautiful image and the most beautiful result.”
Materials and the process
The impact different materials have on Olga’s work can’t be underestimated.
“Sometimes you’ve got an idea in your head,” she says, “and you understand what it will look like, and you do a lot of work step by step by achieving the results you have in your head. But sometimes, you just go from the material, which gives you all the necessary understanding of what you want to do and what you can achieve.”
“I enjoy the making very much,” says Olga, “Of course, I love to see the result. But the process itself really gives me lots of emotions. I love it. I do everything myself, all the processes by my hand. I enjoy it because I can communicate with the material and listen to it. Sometimes I get an idea from the material because sometimes, it wants to be polished. Sometimes it wants to be burned. Sometimes it wants to be covered with paint or epoxy resin or something like this. So I’m trying to listen, to understand what the material says to me.”
The reality of war
Living in Ukraine, Olga is experiencing life in a very different way at the moment, “It is true, we’re really living in the middle of the war,” she says, “you cannot plan anything. I’m staying in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, and it has been under missile attack almost every day, almost every night, and you never know if you will be safe in the morning or not.
But this is the reality we can deal with. We really have learnt how to live with this. It’s hard to explain, but we have got used to this war. It’s terrible to understand for normal people, but we are not normal anymore. Having no plans has become part of our life. You can’t plan for half a day because you don’t know if a missile attack will come at any moment. You never know where exactly you will be in this moment and if you will survive or not; you also never know.
This scares you a little bit, but also it gives you that much energy. Don’t postpone. Don’t waste your time. Do anything you can do just now. Don’t wait, do it.”
About the artist
Educated and graduated from the National Academy of Fine Arts & Architecture. Kyiv, Ukraine, Olga is a textile artist who works in many different media.
Olga believes multimedia skills are essential for any modern artist: oil painting, ink painting, watercolour, installations and more. Olga’s heart, though, is always and forever with sculpture.
Over the last three years, Olga has invented a new media – textile sculpture. She mixes textiles with ceramics, resin, wood and metal. This combination gives her space for experimentation, both visual and emotional. This technique also expands her communication with the audience.
Olga has exhibited prolifically in Ukraine and Europe.