How you like it? – RAW

Marketing is a common part of our everyday life. Since the establishment of early trade relationships in society, we have learned to present ourselves at the highest value. We still have to ‘market’ ourselves nowadays: when we apply for school or a job (we have to prove our worth at any cost). Food at your local grocery store also participates the competition, and only that, that reaches to the highest standards becomes part of exposition.

Fall Pampering Harvest

I disagree with and at the same time admire the power, that marketing has on our common sense and the way we perceive objects; the way that marketing strategies are designed to read the target audience’s wishes fascinates me. I wanted to learn all about it.

‘Human On Display’ – photo by Oleksiy Zubrytsky; model: Olga Balashova; idea: Masha

Marketing is all about creating the unique experience, that stays long in the consumer’s mind. It aims at persuading the buyer, that this is ‘once in a lifetime deal’. At the same time it is based on patterns.

Andy Warhol depicted this process by creating a mass-produced art pieces (that was revolutionary at that time). Andreas Gursky, on the other hand, puts that almost ornamental pattern, straight into your face. His photos swallow the viewer with its infinite details.

Andy Warhol – Campbell Soup Series
Andreas_Gursky .jpg
Andreas Gursky. Chromogenic color print. 6′ 9 1/2″ x 11′ (207 x 337 cm) Lent by the artist, courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery, New York, and Monika Sprüth Galerie, Cologne. ©2001 Andreas Gursky.

I look at the theme of marketing from the point of view of a hypnotized customer. The one that is like a fly attracted to the light; the customer that is in the same way attracted to the product. This is a very powerful force, that is able to completely blind a person.

Problem of Choice
‘Problem of Choice’ acrylic painting on canvas by Masha


‘Problem of Choice’ – painting in process
‘Problem of Choice’ – acrylic painting by Masha
‘Problem of Choice’ – acrylic painting by Masha
‘Problem of Choice’ – acrylic painting by Masha

My series started with an observation of the problem of choice we have nowadays. Whereas it seems that our options are endless, we are in fact, just tricked by variety of labels,  that promote the same substance. When you choose between ‘cola’ and ‘fanta’ – it’s ultimately sweet water produced by Coca Cola brand.

‘Pick Me!’ – acrylic painting by Masha

The first work is called The Problem of Choice. It depicts the average woman anxious at the drink isle. I was inspired with the part of the movie ’99 Francs’.

Later I decided to dig dipper and play with the parallels between marketing of a product and marketing of the person. This theme basically starts with high-end modeling and luxury goods and ends with your next neighbor in the snack aisle of your local grocery store.

Salmon on display at the local store – photo

My friends (who so generously volunteered their time and effort) and I organized a photo shoot that would depict a ‘person on display – raw’. We brought a blown-up pool to the photo studio and filled it with 200 kg (440 lb) of ice. I was trying to stylize the models and their positions similar to those in the raw meat and fish section.

Two most adventurous models I ever had were Alina and Olga Balashova. Olga was the first art curator, who picked my artwork, piled among other things in corridors of the Art Academy, for the huge contemporary art show in Kiev. It happened so that we started talking about art and then I just asked if she would want to volunteer as a model for these new series, I am working on. The fact she agreed was a pretty big deal for me at the time! And looking back at those photos I still can not appreciate it enough!

Watch Olga’s art lectures on Vimeo and read more of Olga’s articles dedicated to the contemporary art here. (UA/RU)


For the photo of ‘meat’ I actually splashed that red-colored acrylic paint all over the model.

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This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Couple of the models didn’t show up. My friend had to drive my old manual stick ford car (that was lacking right mirror and would die every time you stop) to pick up the substitution. These were two guys whom she saw for the first time. They made their way back to the studio and brought a bottle of vodka. I also had to substitute one model. The ice was beyond cold. I can not admire enough the dedication with which Alina and Olga laid in that pool, waiting for our next command.

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Final pics looked like this:


And here are the paintings that came out of them:

"Meat" acrylic on canvas 200x100.JPG
‘Meat’ – acrylic painting; ‘Human on Display’ Series
"Fish" acrylic on canvas 200x155.jpg
‘Fish’ – acrylic painting; ‘Human on Display’ series
‘Meat-1’ – acrylic painting; ‘Human on Display’ series
"Fish 2" acrylic on canvas 150x100.jpg
‘Fish-1’ – acrylic painting


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6 thoughts on “How you like it? – RAW

  1. It’s nice to see someone else–from the other side of the world no less–tackling the concept of choice overload. I have been puzzling over the multitude of products and labels for years, now, looking at it philosophically, questioning the purpose and/or motives.

    I can’t say it has fueled me to reproduce product shelves in art form. My art rarely gets that complex. Drawing fifty bottles on shelves makes me a little short of breath.

    The one aspect of your work on display here that disturbs me is the bloody–bleh!–models. I get it if you are comparing human meat to what meat eaters may carelessly consume. I get it if you are a vegetarian trying to turn meat eaters off. I also get it if you are comparing choices of meat to choices of partners/women. But, regardless of intent, bloody meat of any kind on ice is a disturbing image. And, at an art show, it might be what steers me clear of an art exhibit (much like seeing anyone’s work that displays full nudes or flashes of private parts). Which would be a shame, considering you have other nice, thought-provoking pieces. Just one artist/viewer’s opinion.


    1. Hey:) thanks for your comment! Just to mention quickly the ‘drawing 50 bottles on a shelf’ – it was my personal challenge. I had issues with patience and bringing a work to a finish. For this (in context of my interest for consumerism and mass production – ever saw ‘How it’s made’ on discovery channel? That fascinated me) I decided to make a huge painting with a lot of detail(that huge soda shelves piece) and as I finished (which was rather tough) I followed it with another – vodka shelves. Actually those paintings started my art career as they got picked out by an art curator for a contemporary art show and auction. Interesting that both were bought by a brand development company owner. Now about meat pieces. I am not a vegetarian. I love my protein although I try to be conscious of where it comes from. The point was different. It’s rather showcasing how humans may sometimes be ‘on display’ and for sale (in any given sense). People are also marketed and sold. Meat on ice just drew my attention because how unnatural it is to try to make a display of something that was once alive – pretty (like they do at stores) – I mean bottles of soda I get it. But meat?? That’s why I chose it as an allegory. And as far as nudity: I spent six years in art academy, right? So every day we had 3 hours of live drawing and six hours of live painting classes. (Granted I missed a lot of those) models were nude (regardless of sex and age). We also studied art anatomy – and we would spend hours drawing actual human bones and muscles. So I think I approach human body more so as a subject (like surgeons can’t afford to be actually thinking about the fact they are cutting a human) – you notice a model’s character, details, what distinguishes him or her. That’s it – it’s all about art, make it talk your language to viewers. No cliches about green peace or other messages:)


      1. I am not sure I sent my second reply/comment to the previous. I know I didn’t comment on everything.

        Having pondered people being on display for sale myself, I keep thinking of doing a fish tank piece. When I go to the fish store with my father, I feel like I am walking a street of prostitutes. The fish hope they get picked and are given a better home, hope they are “pretty enough.” People come and go, glancing at them in their glass cages, not unlike the zoo. But, the zoo may be even more hopeless because the animals have no option other than some surprise notice about being passed around to other zoos.

        I might have put people in food costumes and then sat them on fake ice sans blood. After all, how fresh are the people we find on display?

        9 hours of model reproduction each day?? I cannot imagine.

        I don’t draw nude models. I am not comfortable with the idea/practice. It also feels like a form of prostitution or reducing the respect of human beings. If I reproduce a nude, it will be my lover, and the pictures will be kept private. I passed on attending a particular art college because all I saw in the hallways were pictures of penises, boobs and vaginas. There were very few respectable nude pieces. Most full nudes looked about as bad as your human meat.

        I dunno how a surgeon detaches their brain from the notion of cutting human bodies… I don’t even want to ponder that. And, on that note, that artist or any artist that turns a human body into a play sculpture with the skin removed is sick beyond compare.


  2. Now that I think of it, the one area of production in which choice isn’t so bad might be soda/soft drinks. As current times pose such products as potentially dangerous like cigarettes, one might say the choice is simple; don’t consume. Or, if we choose to consume them, we have a nice variety of flavors/chemistries at a much more affordable price than say wine or beer. Soft drinks can drum up the same distinguished conversation as more expensive, alcoholic beverages. Their consumers can talk like wine connoisseurs. And, experienced in their purchase/consumption myself, I can discern one from another fairly well. I have preferences for root beer, ginger ale and the like. Thus, I have little trouble making the choice. I can go into a store and know what brand and flavor I want.

    I cannot say the same about picking other products, including jars of pickles, other than either thinking economically or basing my decision upon experience. [I might buy one and keep buying the same to avoid taking chances.]


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