Interview with Lex Titova

The ARTIФ team had spoken to Lex Titova, an amateur artist from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Lex works with various social topics that are on daily agenda in her country. Right now, she is creating illustrations for several projects concerning domestic violence. Lex took part in the first workshop by ARTIФ where in collaboration with a human rights defender from Belarus she developed a concept of posters for protecting the rights of workers styled as Soviet political agitation posters. Read about Lex’s approach to art and her experience in this nterview!

Hey, Lex! Please, tell us about your projects and art. Did you have any starting point when you realized you wanted to be an artist? 

Hello, my name is Leх, I am an amateur painter, designer, as well as a journalist and multimedia producer. I have been painting since 2017 and ever since art has been a kind of activism for me. At some point, I happened to have ink and got really devoted to ink graphics. It was a kind of an art-therapy for me. Later my journalist-colleagues started to notice and appreciate my works and invited me to participate in exhibitions and publish my illustrations. 

We know that you are involved in several projects. What do they mean to you? If you consider it work, how do you rest? What helps you to redirect attention from heavy thoughts and topics? 

I took part in only about 3 or 4 projects without a social message behind them. All other projects in some way reflect my vision of injustice, or situations that illustrate rather difficult conditions that people in Kyrgyzstan live in. I often make commercial illustrations and it’s hard for me to call it art. In any case, I get engages with most of the projects I work on, as I want to contribute to progress in one or another social phenomena.

Currently I am trying different styles of painting and design; I am in a constant search for something new. I normally have several projects at hand, as it’s hard to say ‘no’ to myself, or else I generate the ideas by myself, or I get in carried away by the maelstrom of my colleagues’ emotions and try to capture them in my journalism or art. I have almost no rest these days, since I am working on four projects  simultaneously and they all are quite complicated. Yet, I really love what I do and I always try to find resources to create something that I find meaningful. All of my ongoing projects concern violence towards women and children. 

Illustration by Lex for a project on domestic violence

I rest from heavy thoughts and exhaustion by being around friends and by observing works of my favourite artists. I like to visit my colleagues’ exhibitions and reflect on them. Every time I get lots of ideas which usually makes me work even more.

It appears that many of your projects concern rather difficult social topics and suffering. What motivates you to work with these topics? And what do you think can bring about a change for better?

I like that you noticed that many of my works are about suffering. I realise this and I can do nothing about it. I am not a superhero, I am just a witness and I work with what I see in this world. So far, there is more evil than good. Someday, I hope to learn to help people with art; especially those who I cannot understand, like aggressors. Violence is a difficult phenomena, but I still don’t understand its essence, only its role in society… So I can capture it and show it to the world.

As a journalist, every day I feel like sitting on a powder keg that explodes from time to time. I’ve been to conflict hotspots and I’ve experienced some horrible things that usually happen in such places. But I can’t say I’m desperate because of this; there is much beauty in people. It’s true, I have not yet learned to interpret this. Perhaps this can become my superpower.

It’s easy for me to show and talk about difficult topics, I know this side of life better, and probably it’s useful. I don’t have any psychological problems, perhaps due to the fact that I talk about social issues in an artistic way. I really like the aesthetics of drawing and it often saves me. Just because the oil smells good and I think about it when I reflect on another collapse in the country, the world, or the lives of people around me. Activism is a part of my life that I express it not as a demonstrator but rather as an artist and a journalist, so I am willing to influence thoughts of an anonymous viewer.

What are your impressions of participating in the ARTIF project?

It was nice to get to know the concept ARTIФ from within, listen to the lectures, meet my colleagues with whom we have interacted through art. For me, art and creativity is the first and only miracle on earth; it makes the world a better place in any of its manifestations.