Written by Xander Greco
June 29, 2019
Wolves, ravens, dragons and rabbits, eyes in the dark, beasts in the deep and blood on a baseball bat: the citizens and denizens of Evlampia’s art form a story of mystique and nostalgia, of fear and tenderness, of survival and belonging, and of making the most of life in the madness of a nocturnal world.
There’s no strict mythos to her corpus of art, but Evlampia’s work contains many overarching themes, communicated by many recurring or similar symbols from wordless thoughts and echoes of dreams. While Evlampia uses her art to reflect the reality we walk around in every day, it maintains an arms-length distance as well, just how the night is a shrouded reflection of day, and dreams an irrational reflection of waking perceptions
“Ginger Dragon Bones is tender cruelty. This is what we can see every day and do not notice. This is what everyone feels at least once.”
Evlampia is a Russian artist who creates primarily black and white art, which often borders on morbid and surreal. Her work is drawn from emotions of old memories, feelings from our experiences, and the thoughts and perceptions in our heads we can’t quite describe with words. Using a wide array of symbols, and a unique style that boarders on macabre and dream-like, Evlampia’s pieces capture those inexplicable emotions, ideas and perceptions, and the stories that surround them.
X: “Could you tell me a bit about yourself?”
E: “I have 3 cats and a dog. I love animals and wildlife. I wouldn’t limit myself having 4 pets if I could.
I don’t like people, fish, and liver.
I love coffee and ginger.
I am happy.
Perhaps this is the most accurate description of me.”
X: “What are some of your inspirations for ideas? Any artists you particularly like? Any music that inspires you? Any books, or movies, or anything like that?”
E: “You know how it is. You’re talking to someone and some of their words stick to your mind. Words are lacking the shape, picture of their description. They are lacking emotion. So you’re only able to draw it.
“I don’t use other artists works as an inspirational source. They have their background, I have my own.
“The same with music. The same song can cause different emotions when placed in different contexts. Our inspiration lives in our brain, not movies, books, music, and other creators.”
X: “What are some other things that interest you outside of art?”
E: “Nothing. Anyhow, things that interest me related to art. I take pictures, prefer reportage photography. I read various literature: Pelevin, Gaiman, A. D. Foster, Castaneda, Tatyana Tolstaya, Lyudmila Petrushevskaya, etc.
“I prefer blues, rock, and classical music. Make tattoos, get tattoos. I attend live music shows of my friends and other musicians.”
Evlampia’s style incorporates heavy shadows and solid black fill, a variety of shading—though in particular she uses a mix of hatching and stippling—and often uses a dripping, oily or bloody effect in her art. Though much of her art is black and white, several of her pieces include other colors, particularly red. Many of her pieces incorporate surrealism, whether it’s the depiction of some nighttime horror, or of an otherworldly creature, while others delve into the controlled chaos of abstraction.
X: “How did you get started?”
E: “How does everyone start? Draw circles and stars on notebook margins. Then your drawing spreads beyond the margin lines. Takes up the entire sheet then. They draw on school desks, then someone tells them that they are good at it: ‘Go ahead!’. I never had any of that. No one said anything. The only comment was from the art teacher when I was 11: ‘Don’t draw these torn lines.’
So, I started to draw on margins, notebooks, school desks, asphalt. Then came A4 paper, A3, A2, the walls.”
X: “How did you develop your style?”
E: “It’s still developing, from picture to picture, from detail to detail. I add color to some of my works, or lines which are new for my technics. My style does not stand still. It constantly evolves, absorbing new knowledge.”
X: “Where do you come up with these almost nightmarish ideas?”
E: “From my life. From my head. I’m looking for inspiration in what’s happening around me and my friends. What happens to the world formed into ideas for my works. I think if I had dreams, they’d be like this. I don’t think they look like nightmares. Conversely, many of them nice and innocent.”
Throughout her artwork, Evlampia uses a host of imagery, with a common thread of skulls, bones, nocturnal settings, and magical symbols. Several of her pieces are somewhat gruesome and dark, but many of them maintain a nostalgic or childish quality to them, while others are more fantastic and dream-like. A common theme in Evlampia’s work involves what seems to be a father-daughter pair (or perhaps older brother, younger sister, or something similar).
The pieces pertaining to this father-daughter pair, or an analogous pair, seem to involve the vanquishing of monsters, and the protection and mentoring of youth. It also seems to involve the relationship of different generations; the good and the bad of that relationship: the kindness and the playfulness, the protective and the stern. Both figures in the pair wear skull masks, which give them a sinister appearance.
However, these are only masks, perhaps worn to appear as frightening as the monsters around them, and, despite their appearance, there’s a deeply human bond between the two. The art that portrays them feels like a portrayal of everyday life—the joys, boredoms, fears and loves, and all the in-betweens.
The occult or magical symbols that Evlampia uses giver her work a sense of uncanny mystery, making her artwork seem more esoteric and foreboding. However, despite the typical stigmas or preconceptions of such symbols, and the sort of mainstream ideas we have of magic or the occult, Evlampia uses these symbols in a more personal way to further develop the sense of emotions from moments of our past.
X: “I also noticed you include a fair bit of occult, magic, and alchemical imagery, as well as astrological or celestial imagery. What is the importance of this sort of imagery in your art? What is the importance of occult practices and astrology in your own life?”
E: “For me it is impossible to depict emotions and feelings without resorting to this imagery. They will look vulgar and not authentic. By adding something different, I give the opportunity to tell and compose stories of these emotions: ‘Look how I feel. Feel what I’m seeing.’
But real life is real life. These magic images have no significance in my own. None at all.”
In Evlampia’s works, I also sensed a deep connection with the natural world, though this connection is often tempered with imagery of the modern, industrial world. Throughout much of Evlampia’s work, there are animals, or animalistic chimera-creatures, and natural, plant-filled settings. In several of the pieces with the father-daughter pair, the foreground is grassy or rocky, often with a tree, with a distant city in the background.
In this piece, the “setting” could be in the woods, or in some other natural environment, and has a tree reaching to the black moon at the center of the piece.
Along the inside of the circle are various images, symbols and objects, including a person sitting in a swing among the clouds, a person laying on the ground, gazing up at the sky, and a hand emerging from a pile of pills, holding one of them between their fingers. Among the stars in the sky, there’s a hot air balloon and a space probe.
At the top of the circle, someone is hanging from a noose. They look like they could be standing on the tree, or falling into the dark moon at the center of the circle. Maybe they would fall into space—maybe they want to fall into space—but they’re held down to earth by a rope around their neck.
Try as I might to analyze Evlampia’s work, much of it remains ambiguous. When I asked Evlampia about what some of her pieces might mean, or how they relate to her view of the world, she opted to maintain this ambiguity.
E: “My works are the sound at the moment when you heard it. I caught a moment, an emotion, a touch, a look, a memory and put on paper what has emerged in my consciousness. I don’t overlap my images over the world. It would be a lie, a distortion of reality.”
E: “My pieces have no names. Like I said, my works for me as my feelings applied to paper. So I never gave a name to my works. For me it is redundant. I also don’t really like to talk about the meaning of my works. I’ve noticed that many authors who give a special meaning to their works, they turn out to be those who have nothing to say on closer examination. Well, this is just my observation. I wouldn’t want to be among them. Imagine that the artist died. Give the meaning to my works on your own. Or don’t. Or you can just follow me on Instagram to like my pictures along with your friends’ pets. I don’t mind!”
Bearing in mind the source of inspiration for much of Evlampia’s work—from the moments of emotions and feelings we have from memories and experiences—words might not be able to describe the meanings of her work. How do you describe the meaning of something that emerges from a deeper place in the psyche than language and articulation?
X: “Why do you enjoy making art?”
E: “It’s sublimation. It’s meditation. It’s discovering the world, or rather worlds into myself. It’s opening myself up to the world. I show what’s inside me and the way I feel the world. It’s the way to stop time or kill it. When I’m drawing it captures me. I put my feelings and experiences on paper. When I look at my old drawing, I remember what I exactly felt at that moment. For me it’s important. My works for me are like magic lantern slides with my conditions on them.”
X: “Does your personality match the style and tone of your art?”
E: “Yes, totally. I think I must explain. Everyone sees what they want to see. Someone sees nightmares, fear, and horror. Someone sees tenderness and innocence. I feel that the mood of my art precisely represents my personality.”
Art in a lot of ways is like a Rorschach test—an inkblot. Whatever rests in your unconsciousness—whatever demons and angels of psychological patterns reside there—get projected onto the visual patterns you see in art.
In addition to her pen-and-paint-and-paper art, Evlampia works as a tattoo artist. Here, her personal art style blends into her professional style.
X: “I noticed you do tattoo work. How did you get started in that? What sort of tattoo-work do you normally do? How much of your personal style emerges in your tattoos?”
E: “Since childhood I dreamed of tattooed sleeves. Over time, I fulfilled my dream.
“At some point, I thought, why not me? I can do it too. I’ve been putting it off for a long time. Close friends pushed me out of my box so I started with a good helping kick.
“Regarding my style, I would say that 90 percent of my tattoo works consist of it.”
Though Evlampia’s style is unique, with her own brand of symbols, imagery and combinations of techniques, what really defines her work is how personal it is to her. Her art emerges from a deeper place, and expresses ideas that might not be possible to express otherwise. Who she is bleeds out onto paper, and seals itself into the skin of people she tattoos.
Though her and her artwork’s ambiguity might not immediately reveal a cut-and-paste definition of their meaning, that same ambiguity preserves the memories and feelings they come from. Articulating their meaning with words might detract or alter their original form, and might detract or alter what the observer sees when they look at Evlampia’s artwork. Instead, they remain free to be what they are in Evlampia’s mind, and free to be what they are in our own minds.
X: “Lastly, what is your favorite piece of art, or favorite pieces? And why?”
E: “I don’t have any favorite pieces. Every one of them is a part of me.”
If you want to see more of Evlampia’s artwork, you can find her on Instagram @ginger_dragon_bones. The artwork in this article only barely scratches the surface of what she’s made. If you live in Russia, or find yourself visiting Russia, and you want one of Evlampia’s signature tattoos, you can message her on Instagram to set up an appointment.