Seen: Vitkovskiy’s Gone Tribal

Anton Vitkovskiy, based in Bushwick, NY, refers to his work as Tribal Expressionism, a style and movement in art – especially in painting – in which prehistoric and tribal visual elements and symbols are combined with contemporary expressionism. The result? It’s bright, bold, and punk rock…and on the cover of Left Bank Magazine’s latest zine, Bienvenuebut we will get to that. Just read.
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Last year, you created the artwork for the Left Bank x In the Clouds Mixtape, featuring Canshaker Pi from the Netherlands, La Bête Blooms from Hull, TREADS from Brooklyn, and Champyons from Berlin. What was it like collaborating with these artists? Who commissioned you to do this, and what kind of freedom did they give you in creating the cover art?

Loved it! I enjoyed the fact that all of these bands were connected in the alternative music way of thinking, and they were from all over the world. We have moved beyond the time when there were any cultural differences. I loved the fact that we were all united in one project, and even though I have not met any of them I’d gotten a chance to listen to their music and felt it enough to create a cover for their sound art (music).

Is music in general a big influence on your art? What do you listen to when you paint, and how does it affect your work or inspire you? 

Music has a huge influence on art, and my art as well. After all, art is music, and vise-versa.

I have listened to almost all music genres, starting from alternative music, hip hop, EDM  and many others. To my surprise, I have started to listen to Indian mantras lately; they are number ones in my hit list, since they don’t clutter the brain with lyrics and really help to concentrate by creating this meditative state of mind. I paint most of my time away and I really like something that’s helpful to concentrate on.

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Can you tell me a bit about your recent cover art for the Left Bank Magazine zine, Bienvenue? How did that come about? 

The painting that is shown on the cover is called Determined Face.

I’m drawn to portraits for some reason, and this was done to link up with the magazine’s determination to get itself made. Plus we were talking with Kristyn about a possible feature, after the cover for the tape we did earlier, and I thought that the painting and the magazine were a perfect match.

Like you, I am influenced by tribal images. Can you tell me why you gravitate toward that sort of imagery? 

Tribal esthetic was fascinating to me for a long time. The main inspiration comes from the idea of a prehistoric artist making his or her first wall depiction out of being a human; not for money, not because of political indoctrination. That human was driven by a simple act of depiction, self-expression, and maybe information sharing with future generations. This crude and practical information sharing really inspires me to base almost all my art on it. I paint to self-express and to pass information forward.

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The first thing that I noticed about your work was the very vibrant use of color. Shocking colors, really. Can you tell me about any color theories that you might have? Why are vibrant colors so appealing, for instance?

I rarely mix color. It feels like the main colors come out the strongest on the surface of a painting. Sometimes I get bored and mix anyways, but it’s never some insane mixed colors. Or maybe I’m copying the ancient tribes’ techniques, since most of their art was done in one to two colors.

What is the Unruly Collective and what was your experience like there?

Unruly Collective is an artistic collective in Brooklyn, NY, which I helped to create, together with the other member artists. It’s a place for any artistic soul to come to and to showcase their talents, either in art, music, or even dancing. Unruly Collective has been growing and is open to the new members all across New York City. Unruly also has a artist residence program, and we are creating an artistic community in the Wilson stop off the L train.

UNRULY’s goal is simple:  creating opportunities for artists to thrive, develop, and explore creativity through collaboration across all artistic fields.

Other than art, what inspires you to be creative? Or maybe you collect stamps or like origami?

One day I understood one thing: in order to live well, I have to self-develop. If I ever stop doing it, then my life will stop as well. My main goal is self-development through art, creating new styles and new visual approaches. If I stop painting or drawing, I feel like I’m wasting my life on nothing. Just to answer the question, I really don’t know what else to do with myself. Plus painting is my full-time occupation.

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What is next for you? Any upcoming shows? 

I’m putting together a solo show in the Unruly collective which will be called “My Inner Totems,” which will have huge clay faces and 3D sculpture paintings. I wanted my paintings to come out from the 2D perspective and voila! I did it! So that is really planned for May 2019. I will also travel to France to create a show in Paris as well but that is closer towards the summer time.

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