Bronze / 2018 / Fine Art / Collage

Nagual

  • Prize
    Bronze in Fine Art/Collage
  • Photographer
    Mikhail Batrak

The series is influenced by the work of Carlos Castaneda, who wrote about his search for freedom through his experiences of being taught by the shaman Don Juan. Nagual, is the name for the unknown, or that which cannot be directly understood by the human mind. The nagual is positioned in contrast to the tonal; that which can be perceived by the human senses or comprehended by the mind. Don Juan described the tonal as a small island surrounded by the darkness of nagual. The series probes this darkness, using a deliberately limited palette of black and white with muted colour tints. Nagual explores ideas of transformation and the unknown through the artist’s surreal images, many of which refer to transformation, evolution and states of metamorphosis.

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 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.