Concept artist M. Patrik Romanskylov talks to me in between sips of boxed wine out of a Burger King cup.
A statement in itself. The cup, he asserts, “Represents the pathetic state of our ultra-capitalist society”.
I believe I also just saw him put a pipe of some sort under his chair. “You didn’t see anything” he responds when I mention it, then walks over to look out his window (roughly five times). He draws his curtains together and secures them with Velcro.
Romanskylov’s work displays a direction that, by some, is deemed “cutting edge” or “as ahead of its time as Warhol was”. Others have described it as “absolute garbage” and “a travesty set to the beat of the most pitiful excuse for ‘art’ ever encountered”.
When I ask to see some of his work for myself, Romanskylov produces the following picture:
Nathan Tucker: Ummm, this looks like something you did in MSPaint™.
Romanskylov: Nah, that’s from a gallery show I did.
NT: You can’t be serious….
R: Oh, I very much am.
NT: You’re obviously not even at that gallery whatsoever. Look at the pine trees behind you and the lighting difference.
R: [says nothing]
NT: And what about this ‘painting’ they’re viewing? It looks like you just took someone’s picture of a happy couple, then pasted a photo of yourself in, put some colors on whatever painting they are viewing and…. Is that a bunch of money symbols?
NT: Patrik, quite honestly it looks like all you did was take a photo from the internet and copy/paste it onto the frame. Then you did the same thing with yourself over in that corner. I mean, you have binoculars on.
[Romanskylov takes another sip of wine]
R: It’s a statement. See, I’m examining her response. His, too. Here they are, looking at a representation of the principles that drive most people’s lives. Will she understand? Will he? It’s a metaphor for me examining them. Not them examining me or my art. I know what I meant. But do they?
‘Posts’ before the ‘Modern’ to
make that distinction clear
NT: I’m not sure what to say to that either.
[slight pause while I gather my thoughts]
NT: Patrik, were you physically present for this ‘art show’ of yours or not?
R: Duh. I’m right there in the photo.
[Glaring, the artist signals for a pause in the interview]
Stories about Romanskylov are hipster currency in his well-heeled hometown. Fans claim he attended university and listed “the best artist ever to exist” as his major, adding that when the college told him he needed “a real major” he responded: “It’s more real than any degree you offer here” before walking to one of the art classrooms and drawing what appeared to be a giant penis on the chalkboard (with mayonnaise packets he got from the cafeteria). Legend reports that he added the words “This college sucks. I quit.” underneath in pink permanent marker.
NT: Is it true you once defaced a university chalkboard?
R: Defaced? Nah, man. You got it all wrong. That was a statement about the oppression of free-thought by institutions of higher education.
NT: Fair enough. Any photos of that?
R: Actually, yeah.
[he produces a rolled-up poster]
NT: Patrik… That looks like a nice painting someone else did made into a poster. I think I can make out a name at the bottom.
Yes, I can. It’s not yours. And that certainly isn’t a chalkboard.
R: You believe everything you see?
See, my work is all about being ‘Post-Post-Post-Post Modern’. I’ve seen others trying – those guys from New York trying to sell their own snot on tissues for four-thousand dollars, the people who smear their own poo on the sidewalk. A bunch of posers and losers is all they are. I’m the real deal. I had to add so many ‘Posts’ before the ‘Modern’ to make that distinction clear.
When you look at what I do, you’re seeing the natural progression from Dada, Romanticism, Constructivism, Baroque and everything else. You’re seeing it all.
[he pulls another photo out]
NT: Patrik, that looks like you just wrote ‘Best Artist Ever’ on a sheet of computer paper then, again, used a common computer program that everyone has, and just placed a quick drawing and some text onto the photo….
[He reaches under his chair to get something. He gets up again to make sure the window curtains are secure. I see him produce a lighter and take a drag from what is apparently the pipe I had spotted earlier.]
R: You’d be forgiven for thinking that, but I painted the whole thing. It’s like my ode to Ultra-Realism.”
NT: “Do you mean ‘Realism’?
P: I meant what I said.
NT: Okay. Let’s talk about all these ‘new forms’ of art you mentioned. Do you think showing pieces of the human soul or nature or insights into the universe and life with actual paints or sculpting are better than a few squares that got spray-painted and hung from strings or some lines drawn at different angles?
P: That’s such an outdated view. I guess you like music that ‘has to have talent to make’ or ‘seeing the beauty of nature’ or those ungifted hacks like Monet, Ingres or Rembrandt. This is a new age. We need things that don’t make sense so that sense can be made – or no sense at all.
NT: Patrik, what’s in your pipe if I may inquire?
P: You can’t prove there’s a pipe here. This interview is over.