Interview with Alexander Ivashkevich

Tell us a little about yourself. How did you become a photographer?


I am a professional theater and movie actor and a photo artist living in Tallinn, Estonia. My interest in fine art and photography started due to my life-long career in the drama theater field: being constantly surrounded by creative people I started to feel inspired by them. Besides this, my desire to shoot my own movie forced me to look differently through the camera lens. This was a logical point for me to start photographing people in order to better understand their inner life and try to pick up some real sense of human nature.
For the last 20 years, I’ve been into photography professionally. As a photoartist, I work mainly in two discources: portrait and boudoir photography. Photo shooting is a continuation of acting and communicating with the audience, it is not just acting work, but rather directing.


At what point did you realize that you wanted to work in the nude genre?


I started working in this genre because I disliked the aesthetics of women’s perception by modern society. I was willing to find in contemporary women the special thing that made men of past times unravel women, admire them and run mad after them. It was a challenge for me to find the possibility to demonstrate female’s pride, dignity, tenderness, sensuality, but to avoid vulgarity in an uncovered body; return the riddle and mystery to the female body.


Your works depict women. Do you think it's easier to convey the beauty of a female image in photography than a male one?


I think that there are no simple concepts in art. Each artist has his own vision, perception and understanding of the world. It seems to me that depicting women is much more complicated than men, because women have a greater palette of sensuality, and as an artist I try to understand and solve this riddle of this palette.
Shooting boudoir is not easy because an artist has to have a certain taste in order not to cross the fine line of vulgarity. This is complicated, interesting and demanded.

Your works resemble canvases of paintings. It is not immediately possible to understand that these are photos. How do you implement such a style technically?


I’ve always been interested and inspired by world-known painters of the past: Leonardo da Vinci, Pre-Raphaelites, and great Impressionists and I’ve studied painting very thoroughly. This apparently extremely influenced the formation of my style, which is indeed more like painting than photography in its usual perception. I was trying and experimenting a lot and finally picked up what is consonant with my perception of my models, what evokes the right, in my opinion, associations. Each work requires individual solutions in terms of color, texture and details. While working, I often need to put work aside for some time in order to return after a while with a new feeling and vision.


The creation of a picture begins after taking a photo, when I transfer files to the computer. I shoot with a digital camera and then I post-process them using Photoshop editing. Mostly I pay attention to the background, small skin imperfections, but I never turn a model’s face into a glossy image. I’m focusing on the other thing: the inner beauty of the person, so a perfectly retouched face is something that doesn’t fit my work concept. I print on high-quality paper and most of the photos are framed individually (many frames are an exclusive work, as they are created in a single copy for a specific work). Some of my works are decorated with the French technique of verre églomisé (application of both a design and gilding onto the rear face of glass), which creates exclusive pieces of fine art.


The final result depends on my mood, my taste, and on general idea and on the implementation of the opportunities which model has provided to me.


Is there any message in your works? What thoughts should they evoke in the viewer’s mind? What is the Alexander Ivashkevich photographer trying to tell us in his works?


I believe that people nowadays need to feel the world much more sophisticatedly than our modern everyday life offers - and this is what I am trying to convey to the viewers with my works, be they portraits or boudoir series.
The opportunity to feel yourself in a different manner is worth a lot. When the viewer sees the picture, he wishes to understand what is happening at the present moment, what has happened before and after the
creation of this picture. That is the power of photography – to present a riddle. That is exactly what keeps a person in front of the photos. The mystery of the human soul cannot be represented by standard smart- phone filters.


The most encouraging reaction to my work is the phrase “I have never felt this way before!" That's exactly the moment when I realise that I am doing the right thing, and my inner desire to shoot and to explore different sides of humanity is growing extremely. This is what I am trying to tell in my works: not being afraid to feel yourself differently will definitely reveal a person's hidden potential and change the external as well as the inner state of a person during and after the session.

Who or what inspires you for your creativity? Whose works or actions have greatly influenced your current style in photography?


As I was mentioning before, I draw my inspiration from the works of the great painters of the past centuries, it is their vision of the beauty of the face and body that is in tune with my perception and feeling of the world today. I am influenced by visiting art museums and galleries, learning the art of different countries and eras, and also, of course, my main profession is a theater and film actor, which gives me the opportunity to see a lot, study a lot, try a lot, experience a lot. Talking about the modern artists, I can name Paolo Roversi and David Hamilton and, of course, the ancestors of photography, the experimenters who tried to Connect the photography with the great artists influenced me a lot.


Tell us about the creative plans in the future?


My creative plans for the future are to keep doing what I am doing, learning new printing techniques (for example, glass and carbon print) that I can implement in my photo works and enhancing my existing skills. I am currently preparing some new exhibitions in different countries and doing a lot of photoshootings. I like to photograph ordinary people, inviting them to a photo session and giving them the opportunity to return to their nature, which they are often forced to hide in order to preserve their essence.


I pay a lot of attention to looking for the new forms of decorating my works as I am trying to combine the inner content of my photographic works with their final appearance.


Other plans include printing a mantelpiece album of my boudoir photography. This is a very painstaking process, because I am very demanding of myself. I have a clear vision of how it should look and slowly but confidently I move forward to create a high-quality piece of art that can decorate any interior and become a valuable gift for art connoisseurs.


In spring I start my creative collaboration with the Alexandre Vassiliev Foundation: since the project is in its starting level, I prefer to keep the details undisclosed, but it will definitely be something special and sophisticated.

Text Lyubov Melnickowa @lumenicka