Dmitrii Ulianov – Recycling as New form of Art

One of my mottoes is: “Turn old problems into new projects.”

With my art I want to change the attitude of people to plastic, make people friends with plastic and not enemies. So that each person thinks about his decision before littering the environment and starts to watch for cleanliness around ourselves for the sake of us and the sake of the next generations.

– Dmitrii Ulianov

Oleksandra Lykhoshvai: Your way of creating art is very unique, not often you can see an artist using plastic waste as his/hers main working tool. We are sure that “Why have you decided to use plastic?” Is a very commonly asked question, but want to start with introducing you to our readers. Can you tell us, where was the starting point of you as an artist? What encouraged you to connect your life with Art?

Dmitrii Ulianov: I got into the artist circle and painted with oil in youth. Over time, I realized that oil is from the last century so I was looking for new materials to create my works. During the ecological cleaning of rivers and the disposal of plastic waste, I was inspired to create such paintings I do now.

OL: Going back to the common question, we are also curious to know the reason for you using plastic and no paint in your artworks. Where did this idea come from?

DU: Experimented with plastic at home, the first artwork in plastic was the usual redrawing of a small picture.

OL: We understand that pollution is on a very high level nowadays, and plastic is one the biggest problems, and the main cause of it probably, nevertheless there are other wastes that can be used, lots of glass, paper, wire and old metal. Have you tried to use other materials in your paintings? 

DU: Yes, one of my mottos is: “Turn old problems into new projects.” As an artist, I work with plastic. But I have also worked with metal waste (was creating a sculptural park at the Kazantip festival out of tin waste, used elements of electric motors), worked with various sculptures, and ceramics – mosaics, musical instruments made of different metals (steel, tin). If I had power and time I would love to work with all kinds of raw materials.

OL: What do you find the most exciting in the process of creation of the recycling artwork? How long does it take you to create 1 artwork?

DU: The most exciting thing is when a photograph of an abandoned river is drawn with plastic collected on the bank of the same river from the picture, after which people look at this river as an object of art, and not as a polluted river. The picture is usually created from three weeks up to two months.

OL: We’ve noticed that not all of your artworks depict nature, for example, “Portal Collector”. Can you share where do you usually get inspiration and ideas for your work? 

DU: I look at objects in real life and present them in a plastic form, this brings inspiration. Also, the understanding of the relief method of transferring the image, when the 2-D picture becomes a semi-painting, a semi-sculpture, after which you feel yourself the creator of a new genre. The process of creating a picture is already a source of inspiration. I study Hinduism, I read mantras, which also inspire me to create new projects: how to become the cleanest of the foulest by the fiery purification.

OL: We also know that you create sculptures. What materials do you use for sculpturing?

DU: For sculptures, I work with iron origami genre, the integration of design elements, the use of metals, glass, and plastic.

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OL: Right now a lot of celebrities fight for ecological issues. With their social media, they try to get support for their programs, protests or fundings. Do you have examples of public people that you look up to? Or someone whose ideas you want to bring into life?

DU: My personal idea is not just about recycling, but about transforming waste into beautiful art. I am not particularly interested in the world of stars, so I can not answer the question about a particular person I follow.

OL: Going back to art, do you have favorite style or styles except recycling art? What about the artists, whom you can name as your art inspiration?

DU: Renaissance, Industrial, Gothic, modern street art. Favorite guitarists are sources of inspiration: Steve Vai, Yngwie Mountain, Joe Satriani. Inspires also the creativity of Banksy.

OL: You are from Ukraine, this country is developing and trying to become a full member of the EU. How does the situation with recycling and pollution go in Ukraine?

DU: In Ukraine, almost no one is interested in the progressive processing and recycling of waste, some people are trying to deal with the system, but without government support at all levels this task is very difficult. There are many problems connected with waste and recycling in Ukraine, even despite the fact that this industry is very promising for investors. For my part, I came up with a lot of projects that could draw public attention to environmental issues, but there is no funding.

Installation "Fish" Created from the elements of the electric motor
Installation "Fish" Created from the elements of the electric motor
Installation "Fish" Created from the elements of the electric motor
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OL: Unfortunately Ukraine experienced Chernobyl catastrophe, this event, among others, caused a huge impact on the ecology, and brought pollution into many countries aside Ukraine. Have you ever thought to integrate or bring this topic in your artworks? 

DU: This catastrophe has become a source of income for modern businessmen and entrepreneurs, so I don’t dig or even touch there, not to mention that there are rumors that this catastrophe was artificially provoked by the USSR authorities. My idea is to purify the soul through the purification of the river/water. It’s impossible to grab and try to pay attention to everything, so it’s very important to draw people’s attention at least to the problem of dying rivers in Kyiv.

OL: Can you think of the ecological problem/place/picture that overwhelmed you? Something that you still consider as the most urgent and prior issue to solve.

DU: Ecology of the small historical rivers of Kyiv. With the example of purifying one small river, I want to show people all over the world that such purifying should be applied to all nature.

OL: In Kyiv, there is a street in the city center where a lot of artists and craftsmen sell their art. Do you exhibit on the streets or prefer to sell online? 

DU: Most of the street markets in Kyiv are monopolized by the criminal elements, but soon I want to try to promote my art on the street too and in the web space. But, unfortunately, I do not have enough money, connections, and experience for web promotion and sales of paintings.

OL: Choosing the path of recycling art have you ever came across the struggle of “not acceptable”? Meaning, people usually look for oil, acrylic and other more traditional art. 

DU: Now a few people, especially in Ukraine, fully understand the essence of my work and what I want to convey. Specifically, the painters condemn my art style until they see my paintings personally.

OL: Speaking globally, what would you wish to change in the World to stop the pollution? Or have you ever thought of the laws that you wish to appear/ programs that you wish to integrate that could solve the ecological situation?

DU: First thoughts are about all the plastic in the oceans, so dream to build artificial plastic islands. Solve the problem of inaccessible housing by constructing entire residential arrays of oceanic plastics waste. At the moment, entrepreneurs are already creating construction bricks from plastic, using a thermal press, to create residential buildings no less bright and colorful than my paintings. Also, I am dreaming about creating widescreen 3D interiors and plastic sculptures.

OL: Your art is a perfect way of spreading awareness of current ecological problems. You truly send a very meaningful message to people of all ages. Can you share with our visitors and readers what shall we anticipate next? What projects or plans do you have for the nearest future?

DU: As mentioned earlier, this is a more global format of work, exhibitions in the form of functional interiors, usage of plastic in industrial architecture, change the attitude of people to plastic, make people friends with plastic and not enemies. So that each person thinks about his decision before littering and so we begin to watch for cleanliness around ourselves for the sake of us and sake of the next generations.

I would also like to gain recognition from the ecological point of view, at least on the Kyiv scale. I also really want more people to reach the perception of such recycled works of art.

We thank Dmitrii for this interview, it helped us to realize true intentions lying behind each of his artworks. At the same time we also hope that it encouraged our readers to be more attentive to the surrounding world, and of course, proved that Art can go hand in hand with Environment. Check Dmitrii Ulianov’s profile here. And support his art below.

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