Ayline Olukman

Tell us about your background. Do you remember your first interaction with art?

As far I remember, I’ve always been into art and all types of expression.  When I was a teenager I was acting in a theater troop, later on, I was playing in a rock band, but painting and photography was always there. 

My childhood room was filled with my paintings and photos, my walls were covered.  When I think about it, it was crazy, my parents couldn't stop me - I had a compulsion to create!  At fourteen I bought a black and white lab in a flea market and started to print photographs in my room.   I learned by myself, it was so messy and spontaneous. I was sleeping in the middle of oil paint and photos chemicals!  It was a bit out of control, so my parents decided to give me an additional room to use as a studio.  So since this experience as a teenager, I've learned that the studio is really an extension of myself.  I can’t function well if I don’t have a dedicated space to express myself, be messy, paint, construct, deconstruct, fail, and create. It’s totally a part of me. 

In high school, my focus was Art History, then I was accepted to the Art School of Strasbourg and got my MFA in Art. After my degree I was really curious about the world so I travelled quite intensively for ten years. Traveling is a necessity for me, it's also an excuse to take pictures and write, a way for me to be creative outside of the studio space, look at the world, try to understand it, and then express it through my art.

What does your work say about you?  

It's hard to say... I can't really analyze what my work is about, I just tend to do my best and get better. I try to leave a space for the viewer to find a part of themselves in what I do. 

I do have visions which I try to express, but they never seem to take the shape I was having in my mind.  It’s something very frustrating but also fascinating, this is what the work is about.

How has your art changed over the years?

If I look at the period of my teenage years compared with what I'm doing now, I realize that I am doing more or less the same thing: working on the edge of painting and photography.  I'm trying to shape my vision of the world into a painting of a photograph, finding how to express a feeling, an emotion, through a single image.  Of course the form has changed a lot, but that's because I've developed my technique - it's become more gentle, more precise.

Do you have a specific studio routine?

Yes, I do.  My life is very unpredictable so I need a strict working routine. My studio process is very specific. I am a podcast addict so I'll start a new episode of one of my favorite shows and then spend the next couple hours simply cleaning the studio, rearranging my collections of stuff, and looking at what I've done the day before.  Then slowly, without really noticing, I begin painting. 

The goal is to find a space or moment where nothing matters beside what’s in front of me. I am looking for this state of concentration... like meditation, in a way, the hyper-present - almost like I'm in a trance.  Basically, it’s what I try to do every single day: attain this level of awareness

What is your inspiration?

Everyday life, the beauty of the banal, movies, music, art in general. I am hungry for culture. It's one of the reason why I moved to New York: the profusion of culture. If I feel empty, I spend the day at the Met (Metropolitan Museum of Art) and find myself in a totally different mood.

I also need nature and to be contemplative. I am still very confused about what it means to be alive, to be human and having the capacity to think or create, question what we do, and who we are. This exploration is what I'm trying to reach in my art.

June 2016