Neoteric Art: You are originally from Minsk, Belarus. Give us a little history on yourself.
Anatole Upart: My family moved to US when I was eighteen. Most of my life up to that point was spent in an art school in Minsk which gave me a solid foundation in painting, drawing, and Art History. That’s all I have been doing since the age of seven. Eventually I went to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
NA: You are primarily a printmaker. Discuss why you chose to focus on printmaking and what you find interesting with the process of printmaking.
AU: Most of my art experience prior to entering SAIC was in painting and drawing. Once in school I realized that I had to choose a newer medium – a prospect of retracing my steps in painting seemed too easy. My first studio course was in Lithography, and the people I met there confirmed my newly found love of Printmaking, and the depth of its practice. Printmaking forces one to approach the spiritual truth through the physical discipline of the processes. I found that such method is in tune with me entirely.
NA: How do you choose your subject matter…is there a central theme?
AU: There are certain things in daily life that I cannot be silent about – I guess they bother me, concern me, provoke me: death, immobility of objects, their disquieting silence, their loud drama.
NA: You also paint. Is your approach to painting the same (or different) as your printmaking work?
AU: The past couple of years I managed to bring together these two, as they originaly went separate ways: my painting was uninterruptedly influenced by my former schooling, and the printmaking was a novel, “American” experience. The new direction in painting is definitely informed by my practice of etching and woodcut.
NA: You teach printmaking at the Chicago Printmakers Collaborative. Is teaching rewarding for you? Please discuss.
AU: When occasion presents itself, I teach Lithography there. All the printmakers I had ever met have taught – I am convinced that printmaking puts one in a position to want to share one’s knowledge with others, similarly to some arcane alchemy – the temptation to share a secret is strong, and the sharing completes the meaning of the secret. I love teaching printmaking.
NA: Who are some contemporary printmakers that you admire?
AU: Among the living contemporaries I admire Wrik Repasky and Jeanine Coupe Ryding. Among the recently dead: Horst Janssen.