I think that studying medicine and working in the emergency services for 10 years undoubtedly influenced my view of the world. During that time I came across so many different people, different characters, and there were so many strong impressions that of course it had an impact on me both as a person and as an artist interested in people and how they function – how they think, how they feel. My encounters were with people under extreme and critical conditions, and that surely gets to the very essence of a person. From what I saw and heard I came to the conclusion that in close-up, in most cases, people are good and they are kind. And often they are very touching and naive, despite the seriousness of the situation they’re in and the harshness of life. So essentially it is probably this view of people that informs my work. Not that I have set myself the task of describing it to the world, it just comes of its own accord.
I feel that art should, amongst other things, have a sense of effortlessness, of lightness. Forcing it creatively, in my view, is never convincing. If the artist loves the process itself and is open to his creations, everything follows of itself. Something magical, a sort of miracle, occurs. From nowhere appears a picture with people and animals you don’t know and you start to get to know them. And then you introduce them to your friends and the public. I will never stop regarding the creative process as miraculous and as a result I don’t see it as work.
What a doctor does is certainly work, and of course in this case miracles are performed as well.
Yes, I am a great admirer of Chekhov. He was an extraordinarily precise and observant person; his descriptions of people and situations are exact and piercing in a way nobody else has come close to. However, his tone, his skepticism, although imbued with warmth and compassion towards his characters, does not completely accord with me. I realise that the world is imperfect and full of suffering, and to ignore this is stupid and thoughtless. And yet in art that depicts life I want to find a different, higher register. I am convinced that the choice of tone in art and in conversation influences the world indirectly (and perhaps directly), the world in which you and I all live. We are participants in this and on us it somehow depends. I am always very happy when visitors to my exhibitions smile. I don’t set out to make them laugh, but these smiles show that they agree that life, for all its imperfections, is wonderful.
A Whale off the Coast of Norway and Other Encounters; (2-8th May) The Tabernacle, 35 Powis Square, W11 2AY
A book about Voitsekhovsky’s work will be published by Fontanka and distributed in the UK by Thames and Hudson in May 16th