There’s a widely held perception of artists as delicate, fragile creatures who float along the periphery of society, rarely dabbling in the more normative motions of life. This is a vast generalization, of course, one that certainly does not apply to every artist under the sun. Siberian artist Anton Bundenko is an example of someone who takes this cliché and pretty much blows it up. Try to follow this: just last year, Bundenko was a fifth year Engineering student in the city of Novosibirsk, who departed a few times a year to work as a shot firer and crew captain responsible for building tunnels and underground railway systems throughout Russia. Oh, and yeah, at night he spent time taking pictures, usually reconfiguring them in an unexpected collage format. Or, as he says, “absorbing reality and converting it into a creative media product.” When he had a rare free moment, he also worked with numerous fashion brands to create quirky, eye-catching ads. With a schedule like that, I’m not sure he ever slept, but if his art is the result of that…I’m not so sure that’s a bad thing.
(If you can’t tell, I had an incredibly difficult time narrowing down my favorite images to show you guys—so please check out his site for many, many, many more gems worthy of your perusal.) Click the images below to enlarge.
Tell us about your “day job” and how it relates to your art, if at all. I used to work as a shot-firer and mountain engineer building tunnels all around Russia. It was exciting to combine two absolutely different things, but very difficult at the same time. It was a good experience, though, and laid the foundation for my character.
It’s been a year since I stopped working as a shot-firer. In 2012, I resigned and moved to Moscow to start evolving as a photographer and collage artist. The year 2013 has been very intense, eventful and groundbreaking for my career.
What led you to photography and collage? It’s been quite a long process transition-wise, but also a very simple one. I was taking pictures and loving it, but at some point that stopped being enough so I started experimenting. As I had a regular job, my photography was independently driven and I did whatever I felt was right. It gave me the freedom to experiment and think outside of the box.
What motivates you? I love what I do and its my entire life. I’ve sacrificed a lot for it and found my way—and the direction I want to head—in the art and fashion world. I hope I will have this urge to experiment for a long time, and that I always manage to bring something new to the table. That process in itself is my biggest motivation.
Where do you get the most inspiration? How do you snap out of a creative rut? At the moment I’m inspired by minimalistic “sterile” textures. Sterility as representative of philosophical stability and peace. That perfect balance we all seek but which is impossible to find. You can only come very close to it. I think that pretty soon this tendency of aggressiveness we see in collages (I mean technically, i.e. GLITCH effects, overwhelming the image with details and symbols) will be reversed and head in the direction of this sterility. It’s like when the background is completely empty—balanced—and then you have this explosion of information (streams and conglomerations of things layered on top of it), which is exactly what we are witnessing right now in art and fashion.
Your work often features attractive, fashionable women. What interests you about these characters and fashion as a whole? I love beautiful women. I love everything beautiful. I find watching beauty to be aesthetically pleasurable—everything becomes brighter during these these moments. You just need to be able to see the beauty around you.
Is creating art an escape for you, or something else entirely? This is the path I’ve taken, it’s where I want to be and how I want to live. There’s no other way.
What is the biggest challenge you face in creating your art? At the moment, the problem is that I’m not well known enough and I still have to prove myself as a photographer and collage artist. I have to spend an enormous amount of time on presentations, correspondence, and making new contacts. I would love to spend this time on my work, but I understand that I need to combine these. My ideal scenario would be to work with a production agency in Europe or the USA and spend the majority of my time on creating new pieces—ones that are larger in scale, higher quality and more thoughtful.
Do you plan to stay in Russia? I’m planning to find a more comfortable and favorable environment for my work and artistic development—somewhere where my pieces will be in demand and relevant. For now, I can’t find an environment like that in Russia.
Of your work so far, do you have a favorite series or piece? Why? Yes, of my photography I like the Netwalk series for it’s energy. In terms of the collages, my current favorites are operation TEAPOT and Air Force or Project 4.1 for their respective concepts. They were created during a time when I was really inspired by The Manhattan Project. I decoded subtle codes and symbols, which, at a closer look, lead to certain events, references and facts related to horrible nuclear weapon testing, and the immense damage it wreaked on our biosphere.
I also really like the Inversion series that I did with the designer Timur Kim and the lookbook that I worked on with Luda Nikishina. I would like to develop this style and make a few more works like this. Lines and geometry are very subtle, but they’re really significant within urban constructions and scenery.
What advice would you give to young artists struggling to make a name for themselves? It’s all very relative. We all know that a person can work throughout their life but only achieve recognition for a few months. It doesn’t depend just on an artist’s work, but also on their self-representation and ability to self-promote. You have to meet the necessary people, and be featured in the right exhibitions and publications.
The most important thing is to be true to your initial direction and taste. Do whatever you think should be done and don’t be afraid to experiment. That’s so much more interesting then to conform and become merely a skilled laborer.