Sometimes it only takes a few words to describe a work of art. A photo. Those who can capture a moment, the artists, create a whole new way of seeing and imagining the world. Through the eyes of Mon Levchenkova, an inspiring London photographer, and through those of her camera, we move past her innermost self and into a dreamy and colourful atmosphere, where light is mixed up with caresses, and acid with purity.
On her blog, she showcases her three projects: Hotel, places and glimpses; Better Here, water, skies and shadows; Stuck to me, moments of colour. Plus, a collection of shoots taken between 2013 and 2014. Lots of shades. Lots of brightness. Lots of art. We introduce you to Mon Levcenkova’s VLVELVET: ambiguous, clean, simple.
First of all, let’s get to know who’s behind the stunningly beautiful world of Vlvelvet. Mon Levchenkova, you are an amazing artist and photographer, when did your passion start and when did you discover you were so talented?
I think trying to define when my passion started is impossible. I guess I can say that I've tried other forms of creative outlets but I was never really good at any of those, or enjoyed any of those - apart from photography, of course. As far as talent goes, I don’t feel that way. It’s nice to hear that other people might feel that way about my work, but I like to focus on other things.
When did you come up with the idea of an actual photography project? How long did it take you to get all the images together and finalise it?
I thought it was about time. As always, I have hundreds of photographs that are waiting to be used. Sometimes with projects like Stuck To Me, I’ll capitalise on what I’ve been feeling and turn it into a project. I feel like photographers aren’t very good at organising their work, especially when it comes to finalising projects. It can take me anything from a week to a couple of months.
What is your main aspiration in life? Where are you planning to get with your photos?
I’ve been asked this question a lot recently, actually. I’m always stuck for words when this happens – it’s like a slap in the face that makes me think I should be ambitious and have a thousand goals. Right now, I’m comfortable with where I am with my work. I’ve started a project this month that I’ve put a lot of thought into. I’m really pleased with it so far and I hope people like it. That’s it for now.
It is probably the most predictable question but what do you feel when you’re taking a picture? What is the range of emotions that leads to one of your shoots?
If I’m shooting and listening to music, it makes me very curious and excitable. When that is the case, I will often try to experiment with light, reflection and colour. At other times, I’ll be dissociating. When that happens, there isn’t much feeling behind my photos at all – I’ll be looking at everything as objectively as I can. You could probably see me scanning my environment for clusters of colour or things that look out of place.
What is it that inspires you? What is the message hidden behind one of your photographs?
I love reading, especially anything by Sartre. The way he writes - especially in Nausea - is beautiful. That book is an inspiring work of art. As it remains, most of my photographs have a hidden message behind them. However, those messages are personal and I hope that people find their own in them.
I see you are very polyhedric in your choice of subjects, but is there one in particular that you love to portray? If you could choose the perfect subject, for example, what would you pick?
A person who would let me into his/her life to photograph absolutely everything.
Let’s move to the technical side. First of all, what was your first camera? And what do you use now?
My first camera was probably something like a tatty disposable in the 90s when I was still a kid. However, my first memorable camera was a Canon AE-1. Right now I’m using that along with a Olympus XA-2, a Polaroid, Canon 5D mk 2 and a 7D.
In the Better Here series, the sky almost merges with the earth, the colours are liquid and it looks sort of dreamlike; but at the same time you can’t avoid using intense shades of colour. Why this apparently contrasting choice?
Aren’t dreams vivid and intense?!
What’s your opinion about postproduction, do you like it better than the actual shoot?
Not at all. I’m not a big fan of postproduction at all! And why would I be? When you’re shooting, you’re in a place that you find inspiring and beautiful enough to take photos in. I’d rather be shooting than sitting in front my computer.
Have you ever had the chance to physically display your photographs? If yes, where and when was your most important exhibit?
I’ve had a few opportunities to but I’ve never taken them.
Is there an artist, or more than one, that you take as an example and as an inspirational figure for your work? I refer not only to photographers but also to painters and (why not?) designers etc… Moreover, do you feel like you belong to a certain kind of artistic movement?
Anyone who knows me won’t be surprised to find out that one of my most obvious inspirations is William Eggleston. I also love Juergen Teller, Brian Vu, Susannah van der Zaag, Tyler Sueda, Garrett Lockhart and Nickolay Dyadechko. As far as artistic movements go… I don’t belong to any and I plan to keep it that way for now!
Is there a living artist with whom you would like to collaborate? Why?
I’d love collaborate with anyone who’s been a part of outsider art projects. I think it would be amazing.
And finally, in a few words, how would you describe your entire work?
Ambiguous. Clean. Simple.