Konstantin Skrytutsky is the sculptor, the author of over thirty works in Kyiv, the member of the Union of Designers of Ukraine. His artworks can be seen not only in Kyiv, but as well in France, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Crimea and in private collections. Konstantin tells us how the famous "Hedgehog in the fog" has appeared in the city center, what the modern Kyiv lacks and how the ideas for new creations are born.
– How do people become street artists? How did your creative career start?
This was predicted by the stars. Moreover, I wouldn't refer my art to street art. If we apply the concept of street art into our reality, it's sooner the art in free access than anything else. All my works are easy to contact, you can come closer and touch them. This is, perhaps, the peculiarity of our national mentality – the Ukrainians "love with hands". For some people it's enough to stroke or touch the object while the others, unfortunately, try to "improve" it – breaking something, or scratching own name or vandalize the sculpture just because they have nothing else to do. My creative work started in a music school where I was enrolled by default by my mom-musician. I graduated from it being confident that I had no wish to be a musician. Though, I mastered the piano, the guitar and the violine.
– Have you had this love for creation since childhood? Who did you want to become when you were a child?
Well, studying hard the gamuts, my soul was craving for something different. Since childhood I have been sculpting from plasticine – these were chimaeras and fairy tale animals... I was a kind of Mariya Prymachenko in small shorts. I was drawing my childish fantasies. And my mom fostered it. Well, now I understand that her skillful hand of an educator was leading me into the big art. When parents unobtrusively form the dreams of their children it's a work of a virtuoso.
– What is modern Kyiv for you? How to make it cozier? What does the city lack?
Modern Kyiv does not exist. Kyiv is archaic and it falls behind its fellows – European capitals – literary in everything. What can be called the result of evolution of the city area and the outcome of scientific and technical progress somewhere in Brussels, will be a caboodle here.
– Are you a native-born Kyivan? Where do you love walking in Kyiv?
I belong to big-city vanquishers. Though I moved to Kyiv at a very tender age. I was born in Lugansk and my childhood reminiscences about the city are wonderful. I do worry about all the people there, I sympathize with those poisoned by the propaganda. The people in Lugansk area are wonderful – they are kind, simple and trustful. They, apparently, suffer because of that now. As for Kyiv, I love walking here. I love my Peisazhka (Peisazhna alley in Kyiv – ed. note), I love Mariinsky park and Trukhaniv island. Especially in winter. Last year I fell in love with Hydropark – the park of contrasts. On the one hand, it's alco-trash – "the pictures from exhibition" which are inimitable and picturesque. On the other hand, I was captured by the idea of Garik Korogodsky to create a cinema-club for elderly people in Hydropark. The project is fully financed by maecenas, completely beyond the state budget. We worked on it for two years, and finally, on August 3 it was opened. It's so pleasant that our ideas were incorporated in the project of such a scale. The trust of such charismatic Kyivan as Garik is worth a lot. I hope that thanks to my positive mosaics Hydropark – loved by so many Kyivans – will have a new life.
– Do you have a workshop where you create your works?
I, unfortunately, don't have a "permanent registration" in a workshop. I work in premises of required space depending on the complexity of an object. On the other hand, I know how my colleagues are pressed upon with the workshops rented from KCSA. They have no rights and are always under the threat of ejection. It's a trail of humiliation and stress. Recently, Kyryll Protsenko – a good friend of mine and a legendary artist- left this world. He was one of the founders of "Commune de Paris". For him, the workshop in the attic in Volodymyrska street was a sacral place. But according to him, so much blood has been sucked because of it! Will the tenancy be prolonged or not? Are the neighbours in good mood or do they have "seasonal schizophrenia"? Will Kyivenergo cut off the light or not?... This place, in my opinion, stole a couple of years of the life of the artist.
– Which of your works do you consider special and why?
The most special for me is the monument to Anna Yaroslavna – the young queen of France. I'll tell you why. My blood-brother in creation, the art director and co-author of many works, Fedor Balandin invented a huge project. It's a big event of popularization of a historical personality – Anna Yaroslavna; she was very important to Ukraine. Just imagine. In this project, Anne de Kyiv fest, there is everything – publication of books, staging the plays, concerts, historic research works and, certainly, the sculpture. We were tantalizingly looking for the image of the queen because her genuine portrait was lost. That's why symbolism was of significant importance. Fedor invented the image – a little girl from Kyiv with the glance of a future queen. Quite a puzzle, isn't it? I think we coped with it. A little Anne from Kyiv didn't get lost lost on large Lvivska ploscha. She patronizes it like a princess. The main distinctive feature of the project is its integration and wholeness. It's a culturological breakthrough without any exaggerations!
– What do you make your sculptures from?
"If only you knew from which rubbish..." (poet Akhmatova – ed not) Anna Andreevna, the great Kyivan, knew what she was writing about. Believe me, the material isn't of first priority. We work in different techniques. Just pay attention to the array of bronze which has been "poured" recently in the streets of our cities. The material is noble and expensive. But do these giants touch the people? My cat made of forks near Zoloti vorota or Hedgehog in fog in Reitarska street are many times more popular than their colleagues cast out of bronze. That's why the main thing in modern art is an idea.
– How do you come up with the ideas for creating new works?
The ideas come from the heart. I'll say common things – you need to read a lot and dream a lot. Then there will be no deficit of ideas.
– Tell is about the concept of Peisazhna alley. How did you get an idea to combine in this project cat-millipedes, the Little Prince and benches shaped like cat faces?
Peisazhna alley is the synergy and marvel. This marvel has a lot of ingredients. The main ones are Volodymyr Kolynko – a patriot of Kyiv and a maecenas, Marina Soloviova – a lawyer and a public person, Fedor Balandin – my art director and there's a number of our friends and acquaintances as well as other people we don't know who have been helping us in our struggle for Peisazhka. As for the art concept, it is simple and philosophical: do not harm. Do not harm the landscape, the spirit of the city. The uniqueness lies, certainly, in the fact that we have beeng doing everything for the first time – from technological decisions to the way to confront the developers. The Little Prince, by the way, is still fighting. His hand armed with a sword was broken off again. Mystical, isn't it?
– Hedgehog in fog is one of the most favorite sculptures of Kyivans and the guests of the city. Tell us about it more. How did the sculpture appear? What inspired you to create it?
It was my personal performance, artistic reply to the unsuccessful Monument to the border guards which people usually call "Kozak on the dog". It looks like this "horse" appeared in the "fog" of the city environment. And the Hedgehog is "shocked".
– Your sculptures are quite unusual, even funny. Perhaps, you have some funny stories connected with their creation and mounting?
All mountings are kind of funny. By the way, when we dismantle the Hedgehog once or twice a year as a preventive measure, every time someone from the passers-by calls the police. Basically we manage to leave before they arrive (laughs). Later we read about the snatch of the sculpture. Or the head of the State Border Service of Ukraine phones and asks, concerned "Where has the Hedgehog gone?" And we don't understand what the problem is. As it turns out, the border guards have a tradition to put on the Hedgehog their service cap on the day of their professional holiday!
– What difficulties in work does a street sculptor face?
We cope with complications successfully. It doesn't matter if it is a commercial order or our own, personal art project. Envy is really annoying. Unfortunately, the streets of Kyiv are full of people who failed to realize themselves. They blame everyone and everything in their misfortunes but their own inertia and laputanism. When I sometimes hear a viperish: Skrytutsky and Balandin invented something again" – I want to do more and more.
– What hobbies do you have? What do you do apart from sculpture?
Collecting travels is my hobby. In my opinion the only thing worth spending money is faraway countries. Money-grubbing and warehousing is not for me. I prefer dreaming of new countries and interesting people. I opened for myself the world of book illustration. We are working on the second book with Volodymyr Kolynko, a good friend of mine and a maecenas of many projects. I'm drawing illustrations for his book of fairy tales now. Fairy tales are very acute for me – my son Nikita is growing up. He's my second job after sculpture. I'm trying to keep him close to me all the time and it doesn't oppress me at all. By the way, he is an unconscious coauthor of the illustrations to the fairy tales.
– Tell us about your preferences in music, literature, cinema.
I try to absorb maximum of music and films. You know, even a failed film or a soundtrack can trigger a fantastic idea!
– Do you think you are famous?
I certainly understand that our works are mainly a brand book of modern Kyiv. The objects we create become tourist attractions. It's really pleasant when people come to me and thank. But to feel famous is, perhaps, a kind of diagnosis, but I am a healthy person (smiles).
– Which creative projects should we anticipate in the nearest future? What are you working at now?
We are finishing a huge "Peisazhka Morshin" project. I fell in love with the park in Morshin: the contractors turned out to be very creative people, the ideas emerged one after the other, each brighter than the previous one. By the way, taking advantage of the opportunity we'd love to invite the journalists to visit the park. Apart from it, there are three years ahead to create a park in Mariya Prymachenko boulevard. It's an ambitious task that we"ll cope with. It's honor for us to create the genius pictures in volume, coworking with such a great Ukrainian woman. It's a great responsibility, too. Kyiv will get an absolutely unique and touristically attractive object. An unprecedented object. In this way we'll also ease down Peisazhka which is experiencing a real touristic boom! Well, of course, there are some European projects. Now we are working on Lithuanian, French and Norwegian "cases". There's another object in Monaco. But they are still secrets which are too early to disclose.
Interviewed by Tatiana Suvak, photos provided by Konstantin Skrytutsky and shutterstock.com