When I first saw the images created by Mikhail Batrak, I could not believe my tired eyes. They were so remarkably and beautifully made. Full of humour, significance and hidden story line. The author calls them “negation of conventional reality” and You could not agree more. We are contemplating the new worlds and altered realities in its most powerful form — visual one. But this photowork is not just about visual splendidness to impress a potential viewer. It is about the human behavior.
[Graphics by Mikhail Batrak source: artist’s portfolio]
I was born in 1984 in Kherson — a provincial town of southern Ukraine. It was the time when the Soviet Union era and its values were coming to an end. People from my immediate environment believe I made a happy choice entering a nautical college. I carved out a career as a merchant navy officer, won respect and became financially self-sufficient, which was considered a success by common standards. But at a certain point I started to feel there’s something lacking and that my own self was beyond one-size-fits-all concept of modern life. The more I traveled, saw new countries and cities, read, the more apparent the feeling became. In pursuit of answers I turned to photography in 2009. I learned everything by myself — studied composition, shooting techniques and best practices, picture editors and developed my own methods and approaches. And in 2011, I produced my first decent photo collages. Negation of a conventional reality and meditation enabled me to unite seemingly opposite concepts and ideas in my creative space. So, my photographic experience embodies a synthesis of mind and aesthetics, a fusion of surrealism and Zen Buddhism, logic and sensitivity, European rationality and a cosmic element of the East. My photographs feature much air and sea, play of colors and lines, reflections and transformations. And the most important — they include a spiritual search for the self and the fullness of existence. I’m seeking to expose absolute freedom in my still lifes on glass, zoological metamorphoses, portraits and landscapes. I strain after a photograph to evolve into an open-end story with an ellipsis, from a tool for recording moments of existence. From this standpoint, each piece of my work is a story of searching for freedom and answers for essential questions. The answers and roads that emerge in your mind when contemplating my photos will be your sole property. Your crossing borders imposed by mainstream society and drab existence will become your personal way to setting your mind free. — Mikhail Batrak
Mikhail Batrak was born on the 22nd of February, 1984, in Kherson, Ukraine. Graduated from Maritime College in 2003, and commenced his seagoing career in the same year. He went onto further study at Kyiv Maritime University. In 2008, being the 2nd Officer on container ships, he became interested in artistic photography as a hobby at first. He started from shooting landscapes. In 2012, inspired by contemporary digital artists and bearing his old passion to surrealism, he drastically shifted his interests to surreal photo manipulations. Since then, fine art photography has been slowly prevailing over his maritime career. Yet, he is still balancing himself between both occupations.