“Everything starts from a point and the kingdom of a point is infinite”. Russian artist and model Ellen Sheidlin in conversation with Antoine Schafroth.
How did you end up creating a whole universe around your persona?
For me, the inner is harmoniously connected with the outer. My universe is the result of work on myself, my thoughts and desires. It’s such a platitude, but I just believed I had control over my life and was able to shape the reality around me. As the artist Vasiliy Kandinsky said, “everything starts from a point and the kingdom of a point is infinite.” My point has spread beyond the borders. Everywhere there are blots from my brush, I want to circle the drawing on these points and guess from it, as fortune-tellers do with coffee grounds, asking “what kind of artist I am.” Just as a passer-by cannot fail to notice the meowing Kitten, so I cannot miss the idea that caused my heart palpitations. I look after it, stroke it, sketch, feed it, and then let it go free. The shortest description of my art will fit into one “ellipsis”, three points of the boundless realm of curiosity, understatement and brevity. Now that the watermelon animals from my photograph exist in reality in the form of sculptures, I can say for sure that fantasy and thought shape this world no less than volcanoes and earthquakes.
Your aesthetic is often surreal. What are you trying to communicate by playing with the notion of beauty?
Beauty is the foundation in my work, just like a newborn, unintelligent baby, crying rejecting a stranger or, conversely, reaching for him, or rejecting him instinctively making an aesthetic choice, so the viewer who accidentally saw my art holds his gaze primarily due to the unconscious attraction to the beautiful. The world starts to cover with grey clouds, when people, as they grow up, begin to abandon everyday beauty when they no longer admire the shapes and curves of trees, the colors of sunsets, and tongues of flame. Marcel Duchamp challenged all of us with the most ridiculous question at first glance, “Do you think that there is nothing interesting in the chair?” and changed the history of art. It was this challenge of persuasion that led me to Magical Realism. These concepts are essential coloring in my life and help to give things whimsical forms. I would like to emphasize the immortality of Imagination in my works. To be honest, I am a lazy person for ideas. Sometimes I prefer to just play with sizes, increase something habitually small to a giant, but as it turns out, this is enough for the first step. If this hamburger is one meter long, then I can be his cutlet. The absurdity fades into the background, and everything seems easy, natural. Everything is a fun game. If these proportions of fun are preserved, then this post will be published on Instagram.
I have noticed that you are currently based in Florence. What brings you there? Maybe you have something special about this city to share.
A city where all art is, even the sound of countless bells in the mornings, especially on Sundays. I am here to be close to the creations of Botticelli, David, Giotto, Da Vinci, to study painting and sculpture, to enjoy the Tuscan nature and delicious pasta.
When I have enjoyed these benefits, it’s time to get under the closed doors and walk around the rooms only with the mirror in front of my eyes in order to live on the ceilings of the Renaissance. I thought my favorite was to look at the sky. But these ceilings! I have long felt attracted to the composition of ornaments; my first unconscious experience was on a white shoebox. Closing my eyes, I began to draw lines with a pen, clumsy and changing the pressure until my hand flew out. I found there a Goose in a hat, a lady lit a pipe in the shape of a snake, long shoes entangled in her hair. Since that time, I could not make up my mind to continue developing this story of the unconscious and associative, and I was able to give myself a chance only now. My latest Oil on paper focuses on the homeless and the crisis in Italy at the time of the pandemic. People are hiding under their umbrella-roofs, and the dome of the house fell, embracing my heart, on this ceiling, I painted my first ornament. -Ellen, what did you do in Florence? I painted the dome of the cathedral.
If you have to send one of your artwork to the Aliens, what would you send and why?
It depends on which life form is interested in my art. Maybe they will lack sight or hearing while other systems of information perception are developed. I think I would send a clay cast of my smiling face! I would spin a photograph of me where I am an alien in my nostrils and ask if I managed to convey the similarities with you. My photo where the alien’s head opens, and I appear, this is my very first conscious work with the words “now I can make any fantasy come true.”
Please tell us about your current exhibition in Palermo?
It is a collaboration of two artists, Edoardo Dionea Cicconi and Ellen Sheidlin, who united themselves and the city, mirrors and the sky, reflections and immersion, distortions of space and illusions. Magical realism fits into a space with long corridors, and on the walls you can see windows to a world where people live inside furniture, a forest covering bodies and ears that whisper stories to you. If you do not have time to fly in the clouds, then the exhibition «Post apocalyptic renaissance» will give you such an opportunity.
What are you working on at the moment?
My main focus now is to acquire knowledge at the Academy of Arts, which I must take with me to St. Petersburg. I do not know if they will let me on a plane with such a big luggage, but I will try to increase it several times. Due to inspiration, my head increased to 2 meters and weighs more than 700 kg, I had to get rid of this load, and now it has turned into a Sculpture. Head sculpture is the most ambitious work of mine in my entire creative life. It is interactive, you can go inside, the inner walls are painted with ornaments. If someone asks, “what’s going on in your head” then I’ll just invite you to visit.
Artist: Ellen Sheidlin / @sheidlina
Art Editor: Maria Abramenko / @mariabramenko
Interview: Antoine Schafroth / @a.schafroth