ArtLap is an art duo formed by the Russian self-educated artists Yulia and Dmitry Lapatin. For some time they were engaged with their commercial businesses until they realized that art is the only thing worth committing fully.
The couple met five years ago in Koh Samui, Thailand, and soon after they decided to start working as a duo. As ArtLap, they are focused on producing soulful, vibrant and expressive abstract artworks suffocated with emotions and delight.
In an exclusive Widewalls interview, ArtLap talked about their creative process, mutual exchange, and future plans.
Widewalls: For the beginning of this interview, let's describe your practice. What inspires you and how do you relate with the historical examples of Abstraction, such as the drip paintings by Jackson Pollock?
ArtLap: Our names are Yulia and Dmitry Lapatin. We are [the] founders of [the] ArtLap project, husband and wife, self-taught abstract artists. We both come from Russia, but we found each other on a small Thai island of Samui. Here we transferred our passion to art from a weekend hobby to a daily life routine, full of unexpected experiences and wonderful results.
We are working as individual artists and as an artistic duo as well. Being husband and wife, we share wonderful emotions, in life and in the studio. We are mostly working with large scale canvases and acrylics as the main medium. We find inspiration in lots of things, surrounding our lives and hidden inside of our heads.
Yulia: I am definitely attracted by words. Languages and books are my passion. I speak Russian, English, and French fluently and am currently learning German and Spanish. This enormous power that a written word can have always impressed me. I often include quotes from novels, poems, and prayers that I read in my artwork.
I also question what kind of tangible trace each of us leaves behind in our lives. I reflect on this in some of my latest artworks by combining different signs, lines, marks, curves, layers of paint, paper and other materials. I admire some contemporary artists who work with modern style calligraphy together with color research and graffiti design - José Parlá for example.
Dmitry: I would say for me the inspiration is represented in two things: music and architectural sketches. Music accompanies me every day. I listen to different types of music, depending on my mood, the time of day, the place and the company. Sometimes I can listen to one song ten or twenty times in a row until it is totally immersed in my blood. Sometimes I can sit in total silence but I still hear a melody playing in my head. Music is a huge inspiration for me, I can catch a certain mood or rhythm that will remind me, or push me to think of something that can later be reflected in the artwork.
My second inspiration is all architectural sketches, charts and drawings that I used to see when I was a kid, as both of my parents are architects. Since then I have loved seeing strict geometrical lines and various shapes around me and I use this in my art. Yulia is always saying I am a “handy man”, that is true, I love working with my hands. Experimenting with textures and forms is one of my favorite parts in the art process.
Widewalls: What is the experience of working as a duo like? How do you compliment each other?
A: Being an artistic couple means an everyday learning process. We constantly share ideas, talk art at home, discuss the best way to realize the new artwork. We are eternal support and an inspiration for each other and this is the balance we have found for our art and life. When we worked together on Blindness series, we took pleasure from each gesture. We stopped only when both of us felt we had given everything to the artwork. We were creating simultaneously or one after another, sometimes calmly, sometimes passionately or even vehemently, depending on the momentum of the inspiration. It was a deeply moving artistic and intimate experience for us as we displayed our artistic souls and natural movement in front of another person, another artist. Being husband and wife definitely helped immerse us into the process. We were not two but one, working on an emotional series of pure colors.
It is also important to mention that we have our separate, personal projects within ArtLap, as individual artists. I think this helps to keep the balance between our own artistic personality and our collaboration with each other. When we want to be alone and reflect on our own work, we just go to the studio at different times, simple as that.
Widewalls: Your choice of colors is quite interesting. My first association is the palette found in the paintings made by the Neo-Primitive artists at the beginning of the 20th century. Do you have any connection with the Russian painterly tradition?
ArtLap (Yulia): Colors play one of the most important roles in our creation process. For me, it is the most powerful conductor of the emotional pulse beat of the moment. I often don’t know what the final result of my painting will look like, but the set of colors is always finalized prior the work begins, so it is a guide in the whole process.
Dmitry prefers to work with a quite simple palette and composition. He focuses his major attention on textures and materials, surface look and feel, elements and objects. Via all this, he expresses his feelings about the world and depicts human emotions and perception of different aspects of life. In our mutual collaboration series Blindness we chose five color themes which were important to both of us:
Red – as the inner source of all living things
Blue – the endless eternity of skies and seas
Yellow – for warmth and vitality
A mix of dark saturated colors – people’s busy, daily life
A mix of light colors – desired serenity
Widewalls: Considering the fact you are currently living in Thailand, I am curious: how do you find yourself in sync with the local scene? Do you show your works there and how does it work?
A: We are grateful to Thailand for two things, minimum: first of all, this is the place where we met with Dmitry and built our family; secondly it gave us power and courage to perceive on our artistic dream. So it is definitely a source of our energy and inspiration.
Nevertheless, we didn’t do much business within the country yet. There is a big cultural difference between Thailand and the European world, explained by traditions, religion, and history. For now, Thais are not strong adepts of abstract art in general. There are a couple of contemporary artists working with abstracts but the majority of people prefer the figurative and more traditional art.
We do showcase our artworks on a local scene, but more to the expat community. We are participating in different kind of markets on the island as well as exposing some of our paintings in luxury interior design shops.
Widewalls: I would say your works call for contemplation and reflect sort of magnetism, while on the other hand they, can be considered as decoration patterns for corporative spaces. How do you explain this ambiguity? Is it part of a concise agenda or just a coincidence?
ArtLap (Yulia): Each of our artwork has an idea behind, with a message to share, a story to tell, or a strong emotional value to transfer. Every painting is original and unique. But we are living in the 21st century where art has already stepped over the gallery walls and become an object of contemplation and reflection for the ones who chose it to be so and not for the selective ones who are allowed. For us, there is nothing reprehensible in seeing our work as an element of interior design.
I would say we even prefer this rather than to see it in a closed collection where the piece can’t be seen and appreciated (by anyone except the owner). Our paintings live their lives out of our studio with their new owners, share their daily life, bright and dark moments – this is how we trace our existence.
Don’t forget we are also self-taught artists. We started doing art in a conscious age because we had these things to say and express and we wanted them to be shared with others. If people appreciate our art at the point they want to invest and contemplate it, we can be only happy about it!
Widewalls: Could you tell us a bit more about your further plans? What do you have in the making?
ArtLap: We have numerous projects planned. First of all, this is only the beginning of our Blindness series currently presented by Addicted Art Gallery in Singapore. We are planning to develop this theme and integrate different frame shapes and color schemes in our work before we achieve the perfection of a pure white circle. Both of us are continuing to work on our individual series.
Featured image: Portrait of ArtLap. All images courtesy the artists.