Mr. Sergei Sviatchenko has a thought process any intellectual would enjoy picking apart through questioning. He runs a photography project, Close Up & Private, that has gained much-deserved acclaim. The artistic gentleman let us in on past and future projects and his philosophy on art versus photography. He also gets a sartorial “one-up” for being an admirer of Ivy League dress.
What was your initial aim of achievement when you set out to begin Close Up and Private?
Sergei Sviatchenko: I started CUAP in April 2009 when I noticed the culture of blogging and wanted to participate, but I am not a writer and far too focused on myself to post the works of the others, so I came up with the idea to post details of men’s clothing.
It started as an art project, focusing on the details in men’s clothing, when I was trying to create the images which will look as collages (it is what I do as an artist). The idea was to work on many surfaces. First the items of clothing, then put it together, take pictures, work on them in order to get the particular colour, and later put them into the frame on the Web site. My friend and art director Nello Russo could create the laconic moving row exactly as I was imagining it, as it would on the street of Paris when you sit and drink coffee in the café.
The majority of your subjects are usually dressed in an Ivy League manner. Is there a specific reason behind this?
SS: Ivy aesthetic is comfort and quality combined with stylishness and timelessness. This particular style has been taken by so many because it is beautiful and useful, recognizable and still personal. On Close Up & Private there are other styles, but only preppy/Ivy League style has been noticed by many.
Tell us about the “visual language of style” you strive to capture with your photography.
SS: “Visual language of style” for me is an aesthetic code, recognizable by people on a broad contemporary fashion landscape. My images are to inspire, not to dictate anything. Probably it works as an “archetypes”—inherent psychological structures that are to be found in “the depths of the collective unconscious.” Carl Jung introduced the concept of “archetypes” into science. He believed that
archetypes are passed on through traditions and migration, that they are inherited from generation to generation. And he meant that the archetypes serve as a nourishing basis for the creative imagination.
Which do you find more challenging: art or photography?
SS: With my CUAP images I want to start a dialog of taking fashion images on another level. Pointing into direction where more abstract thinking will bring us from seeing things as commercial objects to see them as elements of a new aesthetic. We have to have this dialog in order to educate us.
You did a photo-shoot with Gant Denmark. Do you plan to collaborate with clothing brands in the future?
SS: Last spring I did an art collaboration with Costume National. I have worked for a while now with Danish clothing labels. The results will be shown next year.
What about art exhibits as well?
SS: Work for the future exhibitions take the most of my time.
The Parade, wall size collages, in September, together with German sculptor Tine Bay Lührssen.
Just finished in Copenhagen: “For certain because…” collages from last decade.
An exhibition of my paintings, “Beautiful Bridges,” about those unusual connections in time and life.
“Gentle elements and strict deconstructions,” another exhibition with wall collage installation.
Lastly, the monograph of my work is due this fall.
What does the future hold for Sergei Sviatchenko and his brainchild, Close Up and Private?
SS: Working with CUAP gives me inspiration for my other projects as with paintings “Close Up and Private” by Sergey Nielsen. In the future I want to experiment more with my images for CUAP, but I won’t let down my viewers who look for daily inspiration and send their gratitude.