Pavel Braila's work is a great example of the newly developing contemporary art scene in Moldova and much of his output focuses on issues relating to his home country’s national identity and place in Europe. Ahead of his work WANT featuring in the upcoming Contemporary East sale in London on 7 June, he took the time to answer some questions for Sotheby’s.
Sotheby’s: Could you tell us a little bit about your neon light sculpture WANT and the inspiration behind the artwork?
Pavel Braila: The idea came about when I was working on the Father's Dreams project where I was exploring my father’s ambitions for my future. He had many aspirations for my professional life but never thought I would become an artist and he does not consider it to be a real profession. I remember him constantly saying things like, "I want you to be a good boy, I want you to behave in school, I want you to find a proper job, I want you to do this, I want you to do that". This ‘want’ was so interminableand perpetual, so universal yet so personal that I decided to capture it and give it back.
PAVEL BRAILA, WANT. ESTIMATE £15,000–20,000.
S: Could you tell us a little bit about your life and work?
PB: I started studying at the Technical University to become an engineer. However, when I graduated in 1994 all the factories and industrial plants were closing down. There were no jobs and since I also wanted a break from engineering, I asked a friend to teach me photography. At the time there was no internet and all the publications were in English, so I also started studying English. My photography then brought me to Carbon Art, my first contemporary art camp in Chisinau, where I was exposed to performance art and did my first performance piece. Immediately after this I was invited to Amsterdam for my first exhibition and so it started. In 2002 I was invited to take part in the Documenta exhibition.
S: What’s your greatest inspiration for your work?
PB: I think an artist today is a kind of syncretic figure, who lives his/her life absorbing a lot of different influences - art, science, music, politics, household chores. Life itself becomes the main artistic project. The artefacts which appear during this process are traces or remains, like fingerprints - they are kind of by-products and signs of this life. I'm influenced by the circumstances I'm living in, either in Moldova or elsewhere, and part of my work is to keep the inspirational trigger open all the time.
S: How would you describe the contemporary art/gallery scene in Moldova, how has it changed in the course of your career?
PB: In Moldova there are no commercial galleries dealing in contemporary art. I hope the day will come when one will appear and I do encourage collectors to invest in contemporary art and to support local artists.
S: How do you feel about the internationalisation of the Moldovan art market?
PB: Very often when I introduce myself and say "I'm from Moldova" most Westerners ask where that is. In 2001 on the newsletter of Manifesta 4 Biennial (Contemporary Art festival) there was a map of Europe but Moldova wasn't there. So using this newsletter I made a poster ‘Probably Moldova Doesn't Exist’. I hope that since then more people will find out about Moldova’s existence and I hope it will motivate local artists and educate international collectors and dealers.
S: What advice would you give for people interested in collecting art? And, in particular, what advice would you give to people interested in art by contemporary Moldovan artists?
PB: Take a risk - don't be afraid to buy works from artists who are not known. A brilliant work of art can be small and perishable.
The Contemporary East sale is in London on 7 June