When I first got in touch with Olga Titus back in 2016, she was busy doing her Artist Residency in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Then recently when I hit her up again, she was doing a group show at Qila Mubarak in Punjab, India. I am not surprised that the Swiss-Malaysian artworks are going international because not only that her tropic aesthetic is easily approachable for the general public but also because of her skills and hard work to ensure that the tiny details of her artistic concepts are immersively hypnotizing to capture your attention and drift your mind into her kaleidoscopic dreams.
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This child of ‘ex-hippies’ is no stranger to arts and craft with the whole family painting, cooking and simply just creating things in their free time. With dishes and their lifestyle influenced by her Indian father from Malaysia and her mother’s open countryside of Switzerland has allowed Olga Titus to explore the endless possibilities of colors and cultural perspectives. Inspired from the documentaries she watched as a kid on TV about portrait painters in Paris, she decided to begin her artistic career from doing portraits of celebrities and pop artists, mostly from youth magazines such as BRAVO.
Olga is fascinated by the idea of transculturalism- the existence of a culture of people in-between cultures. Through her art, she wishes to investigate the presence of a transcultural and whether it is necessary and important. By doing so she hopes to connect in-between cultures and the interests of people.
Could you explain to us more on the style of your Art?
I guess the style of my work is mostly inspired by the idea – the starting point from where I begin. After that, I like to work in different mediums according to the idea. I’m not a perfectionist – for me, it is more interesting to try out new things and to experience something. Of course, I try to do it as perfect as possible. For me, the experience counts and the expression is more important in a piece than the technical perfection.
So that’s why I don’t really limit myself to a single medium. And in the video itself, I love to work with different genres – film genres. Such as Music Video/ Documentary/Sci-Fi…you name it!
In both the installation and video works – I love to create complexity – a cosmos or a universe. With a lot of details and many small parts in it. Even the bigger artworks are in itself very small.
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How does your work relate to your heritage as a Malaysian diaspora in Switzerland?
Being in between cultures and to connect and translate, also to communicate is my biggest focus in my artworks. Not to fit into any cutout copy of these cultures but to being an outsider has inspired me to create a new fusion of both blends and present the similarities that connect us all.
Obviously, the Indian/ Malaysian part influenced the choice of color and maybe also “the fullness” in my artworks. The Swiss part is maybe to be seen in the detail amorousness…I first studied embroidery design – before I decided to study Fine Art. Sometimes I like to work in the small details…for precision.
I also think that the simple countryside of Switzerland where I grew up really inspired me a lot. Just the open space – in the environment and this kind of emptiness influenced me to create. Just to do something! Create, create, create.
What was the most memorable exhibition you had recently?
This would surely be my first institutional solo show, which was held last year (2017) at the Kunsthalle Winterthur.
Do you wish your works were as publicly known back in Malaysia?
Yes that is actually a great wish of mine, – also to show my work to my family. A lot of the works are biographical. I would like to show it to them in a good setting, as in an art show where works would be displayed. Also, it would be interesting for me to see the reactions in front a wider audience in Malaysia.
Malaysia is culturally such a diverse country, but still, it has its problems. But compare to Switzerland, I think that the diverse cultures are much more integrated with each other – also the living of the traditions of those complementary cultures is still alive and happening.
I believe that the perception of my work would be totally different – that could be interesting!
What are your thoughts on the Creative Industry in Malaysia and how is it different from Europe?
I don’t really understand the system in Malaysia really… As far as I know, I think it’s a lot different from Europe. First, the Creative Industry in Malaysia is much smaller than Switzerland. One of the reasons why it is like this is that (I assume) the funding in Switzerland is for creatives really amazing in comparison.
Old Cultural establishments with tradition in art making, Museums and famous collections are mostly in Europe. Those are the houses which build the foundation of what we see as art today.
Asian countries also had to suffer a lot with colonization and the associated exploitation. Of course, Europe was “ahead” with the Beautiful arts because they also decide what was hot or not.
Also, I think there are very few galleries in Malaysia and the existing ones – (excluding your place, Minut Init; of course) – They are mostly into “classical” and “sell-able” art – such as “flat artworks” (for example traditional landscape paintings). I’m not sure how it is in Malaysia to express your opinion on political topics in art.
What do you miss most about Malaysia?
Mostly I miss this other side of life – people, liveliness, food, – but mostly I think how people are in Malaysia – the warmth of the people. I miss that a lot. Something which is lacking in Switzerland. I’m not a huge fan of this…
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What do you think of Berlin and it’s Art Scene? Any stories to tell of Berlin?
Berlin is interesting and unfortunately, I only been there a few times and for a very short time but I believe it is an amazing city. With tons of creatives there. No, I never had an opportunity to show my work there. I would love to!
Do you think Asian Artists and Artworks should have more exposure in Europe?
Absolutely. I’m still surprised how art still is very local oriented. Art should travel much more often – Of course that’s what’s happening in the digital age, but Europe is still giving the rules as to which continent will be hired.
Check out her latest artworks at : Cargocollective.com/OlgaTitus