Oleg Koval on How People Occupy Space | Photographic Art

August 18, 2017

We spoke to Ukrainian photographic artist Oleg Koval about his influences and practice. Working with colour and creating work depicting an isolation felt in everyday life Koval created a vivid series we likened to one of his very influences.  His documentation of how people occupy space offers an insight into a) his own situation and b) the situation felt by so many others. It's a body of work which is truly relatable.


Abstract: Three months ago I moved from Lviv (Western Ukraine) to Rotterdam. In general, all photos are taken in my neighbourhoods in Rotterdam, and in couple of other cities in the Netherlands (Breda, Zandaam, Kaatsheuvel). The photos are representation of this short period being far from homeland. The way of isolation of routine life and obvious objects with the democratic view - it is the main I want to show to the public.

PW: Tell us more about you and your artwork.

OK: I was raised in Western Ukraine, living now in Rotterdam. There are many aspects to how I see the world around me and what I photograph. I’m interested in exploring the depth of our simple, everyday existence. One aspect of my work seeks to capture the dichotomy between everyday spaces devoid of human presence and those same spaces filled with the presence of light, shadow, and the materiality of objects.

PW: How did you plan for this project? What was your creative process?

OK: Now I am not used to plan projects, I just taking pictures of what is around and after if I see the relations between pictures I am selecting some of them to a project. Often location based selections. It is valuable for me to stay not project driven.

PW: What work inspires or has inspired? 

OK: Black and white photography by Valery Konevin. His passion to create new worlds with black and white photography with inspiring composition and great filling of the light and shadow. "Los Alamos", "Democratic forest", "For Now" by William Eggleston. Democratic way of talking photographs, great colours and fresh look on the life around. He has outstanding aesthetics. Jason Lee’s Photography of a Dust-Covered America.

PW: Are there any artistic movements you enjoy in particular?

OK: Avant-garde, Art Nouveau, Art Deco.

PW: Do you have any opinions or ideals underlying your art?

OK: My work isolates circumstance and moment to bring it closer to our reality, so that it remains etched into our minds—our dreams are not able to be captured outside our minds, but photography allows to capture the moments of our real existence.

PW: This is your photographic response to the Netherlands as a foreigner. Would this body of work change at all over time? What are your immediate feelings towards your own work?

OK: It`s rather my regular point of view on the places, where I am staying or just visiting for a short period of time. I am continuing to collect photos here in the Netherlands, but I don’t know what direction it will take.

PW: Any words for aspiring photographers?

OK: Shoot more in your surroundings, don`t bother about expensive cameras or lenses from the start, but try to find some cameras you will trust.

PW: Is there anything you’re currently working on?

OK: For now I am just keep shooting the Netherlands: small towns, beaches, Rotterdam neighbourhoods, also I've collected a bunch of photos from the past years, so planning to create a second part of the project called "New story for the place". Another aim is to finish the project about my home city in Ukraine called Truskavets.


View his work on his website. Buy his unique prints via his hub. Follow his Instagram.