On the Next Level is a series of interviews that features artists of the Art Nxt Level academy. The artists share their stories of how the academy has impacted their careers as well as share the exciting projects they have been working on. These artists have made the most of their experience and have taken their careers to the next level.
Today’s featured artist is painter Dimitri Pavlotsky.
Going through your current exhibition, it is clear that visual art has been a staple in your life for a long time. When did you discover the Art Nxt Level Academy and how has it been able to give an edge to your art career?
Dimitri: Yes, practicing painting and drawing (and performing lately) has been an intrinsic part of my life. I would not know what kind of person I’d be without it. I derive huge joy from painting full time. But two of my solo shows fell victim to the pandemic lock down last spring. I was upset and did not know, like many of us, what was next. So, I decided to look into a more systematic approach to the business side of my art, what I can do myself on a regular basis instead of just waiting for opportunities.
I have been coming across Sergio for almost two decades. In fact, I showed at his space around 2007. It was the Third National Self-Portrait Competition, if I remember correctly. So, I gave his ArtNxtLevel Academy a shot last July.
It has been almost a year since I joined. I learned to be more proactive in sharing my art. I was able to build two interactive exhibitions on my website, to advertise and promote them. One even got reviewed in a magazine. I started selling limited edition prints on my website. My website is more up to date, I stay in touch with my audience. I have a road map for promoting a show or an event.
The membership saves me tons of time. I don’t have the time to stay on top of things when it comes to the latest Social Media trends, most helpful APPs and equipment, ways to enlarge my audience and better engage the current one. I rely on Sergio’s enthusiasm and experience in staying current. I always have marketing and business strategy questions. Since I joined, I get my questions answered the same day and most often right away. Plus, I get to hear the opinions from other members. It’s a community.
What about the way you approach your art career has changed since joining the academy?
My art is incomplete unless shared. Sharing my art is a “we” activity. There are always others involved in showing my art. That’s what I have been learning lately: how to value those who may be interested in things that interest me, how I can collaborate, how I can be a part of a larger picture. Art, being a huge industry, is a complex system of teams and communities. I don’t want to miss the rewards of being involved. The Academy helps to introduce myself and be a part of the artworld.
Dimitri: I am at a point in my career when I am not looking for the most popular style. I need help in showing my art in a systematic way. It is a skill that can be learned. And if my art is shown in a methodical way, the sales follow, as I have learned in the last year. System is everything. “One and done” does not work for me anymore.
You talk about the action of making art being like a rope in a blizzard that allows you to get through your emotions. Would you say the emotions you experience and personal hardships you face are the key source of inspiration for your work?
Dimitri: I might have used the analogy of the “rope in the blizzard” to describe how I use a line in my paintings and drawing process. But the art making in general was certainly my way of dealing with emotions when I started painting a long time ago. Now, I learn to put some distance between me and my emotions. They can help and they can destroy. Actually, I am not sure they are that relevant. I’ve done great painting in a terrible emotional state and I have done pathetic paintings in an excellent emotional state feeling great about myself. For me, the art making is a way to learn that emotions are not everything.
The question of personal hardships is tricky. I can’t imagine myself saying “I love this hardship because it gives me inspiration.” But looking back, I can certainly say that what seemed like an unwanted difficulty was the grist for the mill. For example, growing up in the Soviet Union limited my access to many things (including information) that the civilized world had access to. Also, my Soviet academic training as an artist was certainly not an art school. “Expressing yourself” was like waving a red flag at a bull. Looking back, those limitations did stimulate my art. First, they gave a great discipline of working within the rules. Then, they were something to rebel against. And finally, to try and be free of those limitations. I am grateful for my “rigid” Soviet schooling. I need my conflict to create and go deeper. It also gives me a perspective onto the world that only I can have. And nothing expands horizons more than being an immigrant.
Conversations Beyond Language displays work in groups that you refer to as conversations and the different styles of the paintings are considered visual languages. Since art is a form of communication, what conversations do you hope to spark through your art?
Dimitri: I have grown up in a society that had black and white answers to everything. And the world was divided into friends and enemies. My art is an invitation to go inside of a person. That is where I believe all the real enemies and friends are. The adventure is most exciting when it happens inside a person. I investigate the impact of knowing that there is someone else present. That someone can be there physically or in my memory or imagination. This deep interest in the relationship between the artist and “the other” stayed with me regardless of what my art looked like at a given moment.
The conversation I want to spark is the one that penetrates the façade of knowing the answers. That unmasking can be disturbing or it can be joyful. A visual language is a tool. Using a tool requires skills. Showing off skills can be a cover up for not wanting to share yourself. So, I am proposing in the Conversations Beyond Language to go past the skills of a language by showing an overwhelming number of visual languages. Then the question may be: “Why are all these styles jammed together?” That’s a start for a conversation.
Art Nxt Level is made up of artists from all over the world. Where are you located?
Dimitri: Originally from Moscow, Russia, I have been based in Chicago since 1994.
Dimitri’s exhibition will be open until Friday June 4 at the Springfield Art Association. The exhibition will remain up on his website: www.DimitriPavlotsky.com
To view more of Dimitri’s art, follow the links to his social media below: