taras haida i am interested in creating new harmonies of this new world
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Taras Haida: “I am interested in creating new harmonies of this new world”

Artist Taras Haida was born in 1993 in Lviv, in western Ukraine. In Taras’ paintings and digital art, human and nature, reality and phantasmagoria, collide paradoxically. One of his spectacular works was the cover of the first big book on contemporary Ukrainian artists “Emerging Art in Ukraine”. G.ART Gallery is happy to start cooperation with the young and original artist. In June, Taras’ digital work will take part in a charity auction of Ukrainian art at the Berlin-Karlshorst Museum, organized by Airlift in partnership with G.ART Gallery and United 24. And today we will talk to Taras Haida about his work and contemporary Ukrainian art in general.

painting taras haida hold onto your roots
Painting by Taras Haida “Hold onto your roots”

Taras, you are a self-taught artist – you learned everything on your own, not within the framework of the academy. But there is no dilettantism in your work, we see a fine command of composition, the ability to convey materiality, and knowledge of anatomy. How did you achieve all this?

Thank you. I did not study anatomy specifically, you could say it was an intuitive understanding of anatomy – and a lot of practice. I looked at some books, and pictures, and looked for technical clues if I had questions about anatomy, but never directly sketched.


Maybe you studied with some artists, and adopted the stylistics?

No, I did not need to. Of course, there was a general familiarity with the history of art. But I never consciously borrowed anything.

diptych taras haida icon
Diptych by Taras Haida “Icon”

Well, you have developed your natural talent and sensed it very well. At what age did you start drawing?

I began to draw when I was still in school. Yes, I was aware that I have a natural ability. And I even used it. When they take you out of physics or chemistry class to draw a school stand or a poster, it’s really cool! And when you get praise for a good job, you realize that you can do something that other people can’t. It’s true that I gave up drawing for a long time, I didn’t do it at all for about five years. But after I failed to get an education, I gladly returned to it.


So you wanted to get a different kind of education than an art degree?

Rather, it wasn’t me who wanted to, it was my parents who dreamt about it. They were sure that being an artist was not a serious profession. I was born in a village in western Ukraine. Locals are quite conservative, they believe you should have a good, serious profession, which will give you the opportunity to earn money. It took quite a long time before my family realized my worth as an artist, and that my work was recognized. And after that, they believed in me!

collage taras haida path
Collage by Taras Haida “Path”

And did you believe in the chosen path yourself?

I once had a complex because I hadn’t received an art education, that I had passed over some necessary knowledge. But when I talked to professional artists I heard the opinion that an academic education can interfere with some things, that it restrains the freedom of the artist and slows down stylistic and thematic research. That must have been when my personal complex about the lack of a systematic education disappeared. By then I had begun to participate in group and solo exhibitions, and the public liked my work and began to buy it. I received a lot of good reviews and finally realized that I felt I was a serious artist. Artists who have studied the realist method for years try to follow logic, to do what is right, what is necessary. Me, on the contrary, I try to break any logic.


As a Ukrainian artist, what subjects are you particularly interested in? Human psychology?

I would say that not human psychology in general, but specifically my psychology. I’m very interested in the subconscious, in finding my own identity through art. A lot of my early work was an exploration of myself. And I got some answers.

painting taras haida the sun inside out
Painting by Taras Haida “The sun inside out”

Was it a kind of art therapy?

I wouldn’t say so. Art therapy looks different. But I really saw my problems and worked through them. And then I’m interested in doing something else. Admittedly, I can’t name any specific topics, because my approach is basically intuitive. Besides, the challenges of art are very fluid, and constantly changing. No one knows for sure what kind of themes art should deal with, or what kind of questions art should answer. And what art is – an aid or a weapon. During the Russian-Ukrainian war, art really became a weapon, making money to help Ukraine. So now it is difficult to say with certainty – I will be working on such a theme next year. All roads are open.


What do you think of the ideas of transhumanism, which are very popular now? Your work shows a futuristic perspective on change, not only in human psychology but also in biology.

This is probably the main subject I work with. I do a lot of digital art, for example, these works were shown in Kyiv in the summer of 2021, in a solo exhibition called “Frequency”. I was reflecting in that series on the impact of technology, the digitalization of life, and the new identity. I don’t know if these are good or bad changes, but this is our new reality, and I’m interested in dealing with it. I don’t seem to have closed the question yet, and I want to come back to it. It’s just that with the outbreak of war, I’ve switched to other topics, more poignant and relevant. But in general, I am very interested in mixing and colliding with civilization and nature, exploring some kind of boundary states. I work with images of people, plants, and animals, often using glitch techniques to visualize these mutual influences and transitions. Are we living in harmony with nature, or are we separating ourselves from it? I am not a moralist and I do not want to say how one should and should not live, but it is important and exciting for me to create new harmonies of this new world.


Now, let’s talk about the state of Ukrainian art. Do you think that today it is successfully developing or is it experiencing difficulties?

I would say that we have a lot of very good artists, but we lack state support for art. As for my personal projects, I’m working and exhibiting a lot at the moment. I’ve had more projects abroad than before and I’m happy with my collaboration with curators. However, the uneasy feeling that nowadays Ukraine lacks a mass audience interested in art projects and exhibitions cannot let me go. Although I do have offers, I dream of having a personal exhibition in Kyiv, and I am getting ready for it. But there is one problem – the works are bought quickly and I cannot gather enough work for the exhibition/laughs. I know for sure that I have never wanted and do not want to separate from the Ukrainian cultural space in the future. I am not even talking about it! I want to elevate our art and work for Ukrainian art to be accepted worldwide. Not with pity and sympathy, as it happens now for obvious reasons, but objectively, as it deserves it.

collage taras haida river
Collage by Taras Haida “River”

How do you see the challenges of national art? Should Ukrainian painting, graphics, photography, and other forms of art develop a national identity, or, on the contrary, should they “merge” with European art, become part of it, and adopt ideas, technologies, and visual language?

I would like to say that I want to develop my national identity. This task is difficult to sidestep at the moment. The Russian onslaught has become a catalyst in the search for a national Ukrainian identity. I would like to explore these questions through art. And I would like very much that if you look at a painting, you can say: “This is an artist from Ukraine! But at the same time, the picture doesn’t have to have national Ukrainian clothes or the theme of war. Then what? Good question. I am solving these rather complicated problems now.


You have started a cooperation with the G.ART Gallery art platform, and soon there will be a charity auction for helping Ukraine with your works. What do you think about it?

Berlin is a great city and a center of European art. I want us, Ukrainian artists, to be noticed there. I want art from Ukraine to be appreciated. We are working hard to enter the world market and to occupy our place there. So I think we cannot refuse any interesting propositions and initiatives. The main thing is that they should not be connected in any way with Russia.

Marina Polyakova
Cultorologist, journalist, art critic

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