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Interview with Karina Akopyan

Inspired by history, fetishism, and theater, Karina Akopyan's art is an expression of emotions and states of awareness; made up memories, sex fantasies, and secret aspirations. Her art is a combination of paintings, photography, sculpture, installations, video footage and costume pieces featuring vivid colors and brazen figures. Whether it's dripping blood, gimps, PVC or role play, this is provocative art intended to spark a reaction. 

I had the possibility to watch live, process of creating extraordinary art by Karina on Wasteland.

Below you can read an interview with Karina about her work.


Marta M: Could you introduce yourself and tell us a little about yourself? 

Karina Akopyan: I am a Russian born, London based artist working often in a style I would describe as Russian fetishism.


MM: What first got you interested in creating erotic / fetish art? What attracted you to this subject?

KA: My link to fetish scene started about 10 years ago when started to going to a club called Torture Garden and I think it was a huge catalyst to my love of fetish art, which at that point was only developing. I learned about artists like Tom of Finland, John Willie, Carlo and Eric Stanton bit later as part of my “scene” art education. I got a lot of inspiration by just talking to people, getting information first hand, not necessarily of already existing art, also from performances and dress up culture there. One of the good and bad things about it as a lot of creativity stays there and does get out to see day of light and wider audience, I think it’s a great place to find inspiration still. The dress up an element of has really blossomed in my art in the last few years and brought me to more photography work also. I often ask myself what is it about fetish scene that attracted me so much, and an answer I think is that it was perfect escapism from norms I’ve been taught about back in Russia. It was the perfect answer, 2 fingers up to it.


MM: Can you tell us about your process for making your pieces?

KA: My creative process is quite specific; I’d say images come to be like some kind of flashback like they already existed, or like it already happened or like it was a dream. Sometimes I call it creation by association. For example, I would see an image or read something or hear something and my brain would randomly link it to something else that was already in my head waiting for a while and link it in quite unexpected way. This is how my images and ideas are mostly created. Once I have them it seems they are very clear, but it’s never the case, I usually do a lot of research before I start painting. I would take me just as long to research as to paint for example. I usually have backlog of images and about 5-7 ahead in my head, so I never have an issue with knowing what I am doing next and always know what’s the next one going to be. 


MM: What makes your art different from others? What reaction do you hope to get from people seeing your work?

KA: I don’t know if my art is different from others, maybe there is someone I don’t know about who does exactly same thing. There is very little originality left in any type of art. Everything new is just well forgotten old slightly changed. But while you can't really be that original and different you can try, to be honest with yourself. That’s what I am trying to do. I think my target is to create something that represents my understanding of the world and human psychology. I want to open discussions and to ask questions. My art is about what and how humans feel. I actually think it's quite fragile and gentle. I am mainly interested in how our identities are created and how our memories and perception of things changes us. How we communicate and analyze ourselves and why we feel things that we do. So hopefully people think about that when they look at my work. 


MM: Do you have one piece/collection that is a particular favorite? 

KA: Yes it’s my big piece “Big Samovar Orgy” that’s 2.5 m long and has 160 people/characters in it. Scaling up my work was rather unexpected decision, but my it didn’t happen over night I think my pieces just gradually got bigger and bigger, and sometimes when I worked with my characters on a smaller scale I wondered what would happen if that piece if paper was bigger and I just kept going, kept adding. It's my Mind Map, where I just keep going and let my brain run riot, not banning any ideas and letting it all out. There is no sketching no planning it all just happens as it is. I really enjoyed that way of working I have to admit. But working on that scale is very draining with so much detail. Considering it takes about 4 months to complete, you can't help but take out a lot of personal issues on it as things are happening in your mind, as you have to keep drawing. Now looking at certain areas of those paintings I can have memories of what each period of my life at the time was like. Sometimes I can even remember what I ate or listed to that day, compression of feelings and memories.


MM: What are you currently working on?

KA: I am working on another rather large and complicated painting called “Escape from the Basilica”. It has a lot of details and difficult perspective. Probably much more complicated in detail than my biggest piece. I am struggling for sure, but I know I will get there eventually. It has a woman in futuristic outfit, fleeing a church chased by a pack of wolves.  This piece is about the relationship of past and future; traditions and changes. 


MM: In your style of work, what are the challenges/opportunities to your art? How do you envision yourself 5 years from now?

KA: I think time is always against me. My pieces do take a while and I also do take my time with research and yes I am procrastinator too. So I often feel I am not producing fast enough, but then on the other side I know the more time I spend on a piece, better I feel about it after. It takes so time to cook too mature ideas I think. Opportunities are great too because I am not limiting myself to only 1 type of media I now happily do everything if I feel that’s a better way to represent that specific idea. It sure takes an effort to research and find new skills and collaborate with people but the sky is the limit really. Trying new things and keep moving is the key. 


MM: How do you promote your work - what channels media do you use?

KA: Originally people found out more about my work through each other more of fetish scene I guess. It’s a great network! More recently Instagram has been a real blessing, a lot of people find my work through it. 


MM: Can your fans purchase your art? If yes - where?  Do you want to share with our reader's anything else?

KA: I’d say if you want to see my work in person best thing is to keep up with my Instagram  karinakopyan_  I post about all exhibitions I am part of there and generally is the best way to keep track of what I am doing with all projects. Otherwise, people usually contact me by email [email protected] if they have purchase inquiries after they have seen my website.


Name of author: 
Marta M.

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