British contemporary artist Olga Lomaka views her work through the prism of pop art. Primary features include a play with recognisable images and products of consumerism – pooling contrasting beliefs which give a second meaning to their symbolism. Lomaka exhibits worldwide, with regular participation in numerous global art fairs and biennales – including an upcoming solo exhibition at Zari Gallery, coinciding with Frieze London 2023.
In this Q&A, we discuss the inspirations that have shaped Lomaka’s artistic journey and take a closer look at her intriguing use of materials and creative approach.
A: In Issue 111 of Aesthetica we featured Meditating Love, part of your latest series Aliens. Do see this series as a departure from your previous creations or simply as a new way of expressing your work through the prism of pop art?
OL: I would say the latter, for sure. Though my series Aliens represents an entirely new body of work, I continue my exploration of the concepts of human desire, the collective unconscious and alienation, set against the backdrop of contemporary popular culture.
With Aliens I drew inspiration from one of science fiction’s most enduring themes – the arrival of extraterrestrial beings on Earth, with my works challenging the conventional portrayal of these visitors as profoundly distinct from us – reimagining them as reflections of our very processes and ways of existence, personified through the stark contrast of two opposing states: screaming and meditation.
I regard screaming and meditation as the most prevalent expressions of contemporary society. Both are intrinsically linked to our deepest yearnings – beliefs we hold to be true. Ironically, what consumes us in relentless fixations, expressed through vocalised screams, seldom guides us to our authentic selves. It is only through the contemplative stillness of meditation, a dreamlike state, that our true essence emerges.
The alien forms of my works are purposefully juxtaposed with human desires, mirrored within their eyes, which serve as conduits or reflections of modern society’s many obsessions: money, love, brands, conflicts, politics, substances, technology, etc. I experiment with monotones and the fluid forms of the alien to starkly contrasts with the gleaming, vibrant and audacious logos of brands, flags and the ubiquitous memes that encapsulate the current cultural milieu.
A: Reflecting upon your use of materials, how has your work evolved from the Pink Magic series to Aliens and Through Time and Space?
OL: The Pink Magic series of works were composed as installations involving a combination of canvas and fibreglass sculpture, marking my initial step into sculpting. This denoted into a gradual shift from conveying concepts solely on a two-dimensional canvas to incorporating ideas within three-dimensional forms.
In contrast, Aliens and Through Time and Space are fundamentally sculptural in design, fabricated using PETG recycled resin. My selection of this material in particular stems from both its enhanced durability and its eco-friendly nature as a recycled substance. Any opportunity to give a once discarded material a second circle (cycle) of life, I take it; a conscious choice that aligns with my pursuit of environmental responsibility, not solely within my everyday routine but extended to the very creative processes of my artworks.
A: What are the challenges in working with chrome?
OL: There are quite a few challenges that come with working with chrome, really. One of the main hurdles is that my current studio does not have the necessary facilities and equipment for chrome application. I collaborate with external workshops that offer the needed resources, like dedicated drying chambers, for example.
The chrome layering process is intricate, involving multiple layers in achieving that desired high-quality finish which is far from straightforward. It’s a journey that demands careful attention to detail in attaining the best results possible. But well worth it in the end.
A: Indeed, particularly on such large-scale creations. Reflecting upon your celebrated Moscream art piece, do you think you’ll craft even larger works for public display in the future?
OL: Actually, I am currently working on four large-scale sculptures. Firstly, my Screaming Sky alien sculpture is set to be exhibited at the Giardini della Marinaressa as part of the Personal Structures exhibition during the 60th Venice Biennale in 2024. In spring 2024, the Mediating Sky alien is set to feature in an exhibition organised by the local council at Brown Hart Gardens in London.
Moreover, Citylife Residences designed by Zaha Hadid Architects have entrusted me with the creation of a large-scale Meditating Love sculpture for their outdoor space. And lastly, but equally noteworthy, the renowned Italian restaurant, dōma in Miami has extended the honour of commissioning a grand-scale version of my Meditating $$$ alien sculpture. It is to be placed on the restaurant’s terrace, which is to be opened by the end of this year.
A: Tell me more about your series Through Time and Space.
OL: For me, this series encapsulates the philosophy that the seeds of tomorrow are sown in the actions of today. Beneath the surface of humour, vibrant colours and playfulness sewn throughout the series, Through Time and Space is an intricate dance through temporal and spatial dimensions, channeling the expansive tapestry of multidimensional realities— a realm bursting with boundless possibilities; pure imagination, if you will.
In my pieces from the series, I depict a chrome panther, seemingly melting, expressing a propulsion back in time as if an agent of transformation for the days to come. Much like the Terminator’s role as a herald from the future, this series of sculptures serves as a poignant reminder of the deep significance embedded in embracing the current moment with utmost awareness.
My aim is to kindle the same positive emotions we cherished during childhood – a return and preservation of a time when the trees seemed to brush the heavens and rainbows adorned the world with their vivid hues.
This series stands as a testament to my artistic expression of life’s intricate connections and the uncharted horizons that beckon us forward.
A: How does the Pink Panther represent a journey back in time? Why have you continued to use this character throughout your practice?
OL: The presence of the Pink Panther character in my work stems from its multifaceted symbolism. Beyond its role as a pop culture icon, the Pink Panther embodies a dynamic fusion of nostalgia and contemporary relevance.
It serves as a bridge between eras, inviting viewers to contemplate the continuum of time and our place within it (and the whimsical allure of the Pink Panther is just inescapable). This enduring presence aligns with my aspiration to create art that sparks thought-provoking dialogues while maintaining a universal resonance.
A: You’ve noted: “The best way to predict the future is to create it…all creation begins with a thought.” Why is this message important to you?
OL: This message holds profound importance to me because it truly encapsulates the exceptional human potential that we as a global community possess to drive tangible change.
As an artist, I’ve experienced firsthand how a mere thought can evolve into a complex and impactful creation. This message alone underscores the transformative power of our ideas and how they manifest into our reality. It encourages us to be intentional, proactive and visionary in our pursuits.
Every work of art I create and every concept I explore is a testament to the truth embedded in this message that by nurturing our thoughts, we can shape the world around us in meaningful ways. Even if that means bringing a smile to just one person’s face.
This principle not only guides my creative process but also serves as a philosophy that extends to various aspects of life beyond art. It’s a reminder that our actions today set the course for what lies ahead.
A: Do you think your work will help you communicate your message with the viewer?
OL: This is my wish. Even if my works only touch the hearts of a few, I will find solace in knowing that the messages embedded within each creation contributed to fostering positive change, whether by renewing the mind to positive, empathetic emotions we’ve once lost or through a push toward self accountably and actions…and who knows, those few touched hearts might become the catalysts that transform the world!
A: If these playful sculptures are meant to convey positive emotions, and the series explores the potential to change the future, how do you respond to those who would argue that only a dystopian future lies ahead of us?
OL: Of course, one must avoid seeing the world solely through rose-coloured glasses, and I want to emphasise that concerns of a dystopian future are both valid and worthy of attention and a platform for discussion. However, I am an ardent believer in the transformative power that we, as concerned citizens, especially artists, hold in shaping perceptions and questioning established narratives.
While I fully recognise the difficulties our global community continues to face, my intention with these playful sculptures is to provide a counterweight to discouragement, infusing glimmers of hope and potential; an infusion of whimsy and imagination into the discourse, all while respecting the gravity of the many challenges we face.
A: How does The Cosmic Voyage series complement Through Time and Space?
OL: The Cosmic Voyage series complements Through Time and Space in a way that extends the essence of my artistic exploration. Just as my chrome sculptures aim to delve into the realms of pop culture, esotericism and the mystical, The Cosmic Voyage takes on a different form but retains the same thematic resonance.
Both series share my vibrant pop art style, showcasing my signature use of colour and the familiar yet elusive charm of the Pink Panther. While Through Time and Space invites viewer to contemplate the universe, consciousness and the multidimensional, The Cosmic Voyage transports them into a visual fantasy of galaxies expressed within.
The patterned designs in the print series challenge perspectives, inviting audiences to question what’s real and what’s an illusion – a theme that aligns with the exploratory nature of my sculptures. The two convey a balance between playfulness and contemplation, while showcasing the versatility of my creative expression across different artistic mediums.
A: What is it about working on paper that inspired you to create The Cosmic Voyage?
OL: Working on The Cosmic Voyage marked a refreshing departure from my typical artistic pursuits. My journey has predominantly centred around the creation of intricate installations and three-dimensional sculptures. However, for this particular project, I chose to depart from my usual medium and instead utilised the drawings from my sketchbook as its foundation.
These initial sketches served as the inspiration for a series of prints in both black and white and coloured variants, as well as a collection of sculptures. This transition was invigorating, opening up new avenues of creative exploration that I hadn’t ventured before.
As I reflect on my experience during the creation of The Cosmic Voyage, I can best describe my sentiments as an “inherent innocence” or a “comforting familiarity.” I would like to encourage all to contemplate the last time they sat down and engaged in drawing purely for the joy of it. If it has been some time, I wholeheartedly recommend giving it another try. Pay attention to the emotions that well up during this creative process; one may discover that these feelings resonate with many others.
A: What are your current inspirations?
OL: My current artistic focus, in terms of inspiration, is drawn from the world around us, particularly when it come to human behaviour, as seen in my latest series Aliens. This collection delves into the complexities of human desire, collective unconscious, and alienation within the framework of contemporary culture.
As I touched on in an earlier question, Aliens builds upon the timeless concept of extraterrestrial encounters, but from a unique vantage – presenting them not as fundamentally different entities, but rather as mirrors reflecting our own human nature. This idea comes to life through the contrasting dynamics of screaming and meditation, embodying opposing facets of our existence.
A: What projects and exhibitions do you have coming up throughout 2023 and 2024?
OL: I am eagerly anticipating the solo exhibition for my series Aliens which will be held at Zari Gallery in London. The exhibition is scheduled to take place from 11 to 15 October, with a press breakfast and private view on 10 October, coinciding with the Frieze London that is quickly approaching.
The show will feature a sculpture series, showcasing over 20 of my works. My team at FprBuro Communications Agency and I have been working diligently to deliver a truly immersive experience that takes viewers on a captivating journey through the boundaries of human desire, the collective unconscious and alienation against the backdrop of contemporary culture.
In addition to my London exhibition, I am proud to announce my participation in the StART Art Fair satellite event at Saatchi Gallery, which is also scheduled around the same dates as my Aliens solo exhibition, from 11 to 15 October. At this event, I will have the privilege of presenting a curated selection of my works, including sculptures from the Through Time and Space series, as well as prints from The Cosmic Voyage and Pink Magic series, among others.
I am excited to share that I will be participating in CONTEXT Art Miami as well as in the 60th Venice Biennale and collaborating on a project with Formula 1, where I am developing a sculpture as part of our collaboration. These prestigious endeavours add exciting dimensions to my artistic journey.
Furthermore, I’ll be showcasing select pieces from my Aliens series at ArtVerona 2023 with Espinasse31 gallery, expanding the reach of my work to new audiences.
All of these exhibitions and projects set for 2023 lay the perfect foundation for the exciting news I have in store for 2024 so stay tuned!
All images courtesy of the press office of Olga Lomaka at FprBuro Communications Agency.
The work of Olga Lomaka appears in Issue 111 of Aesthetica. Click here to visit our online shop.
Contemporary Artist Olga Lomaka.
Contemporary Artist Olga Lomaka and artwork Meditating Love from the series Aliens.
Contemporary Artist Olga Lomaka working on her series of works Aliens.
Contemporary Artist Olga Lomaka.
Works from Contemporary Artist Olga Lomaka’s series Through Time and Space.
Works from Contemporary Artist Olga Lomaka’s series Pink Magic.
Screaming Brexit by Contemporary Artist Olga Lomaka.
In Search of New Planets Black (above) & Infinity (below) by Contemporary Artist Olga Lomaka.
In Search of New Planets Black (above) & Infinity (below) by Contemporary Artist Olga Lomaka.
Works from The Cosmic Voyage (Black & White) by Contemporary Artist Olga Lomaka.
Meditating Rainbow by Contemporary Artist Olga Lomaka.