Courtesy of Ella Kogan
With sculptures that are as raw, stark and honest as they get, artist Ella Kogan has proven herself worthy of a spot in this demanding art world. Few individuals perfect their craft effortlessly, but even fewer stumble upon their calling by accident. This could be a reason as to how Kogan is capable of channeling her blunt, often anti-political correct mindset and turn it into elegant and haunting sculptures. Faces of envisioned souls, the embodiment of women in New Orleans and the story of two gay lovers are only a few of the engrossing subjects Kogan illustrates with her sculptures.
Kogan knew one thing for sure — she had no intention of becoming a sculptor. When friends would suggest that someday the lifelong musician might venture into other forms of expression, Ella was adamant. “I said, ‘That’s nonsense. I’m a pianist. I don’t like painting and sculpting. It’s not me’ — until it happened one day and I started doing those incredible faces.”
That day came quite by accident when her son brought home some clay from his sculpture class. “I just started playing with the Sculpey myself and suddenly my hands made this small work,” recounted Ella. “It just went so fast; my hands were moving at an extremely fast speed. So, I was doing work after work in a couple of hours. And I really didn’t understand what was going on… What is this force?”
The force was an inherent talent and passion for sculpting that might have gone unrecognized were it not for that fateful moment. For some time, the Russian-born artist had been experiencing something that she had not found a way to express. That was all about to change.
“Before I started doing the sculpture, I would see faces in my head. You could close your eyes and you could see faces. They would come and go but so fast that one face changed into a different face,” she recalled.
“It was so interesting, it’s like you were watching a movie. You see the expression and they’re talking. The face is so real, you could touch it,” she revealed. “And I really got hooked by that for a couple of years. They came for a reason but I didn’t understand what the reason was.”
Instead of over analyzing the phenomenon, Ella has let the inspiration flow through her. “First of all I have to find the eyes in the clay… and not just two holes, the soul. I find the soul. The soul will tell me in what direction I should go,” she explained, “It’s a partnership, it’s like making love. It’s the same thing. I cannot say anything else because it would be a lie.”
To allow for the most honest form of expression, she tries not to insert too much of herself in the work. “It’s like you have to be a god. They’re giving you this gift when you create the piece to be a god because you create the human soul… Without that, you can’t make it. It’s impossible. Me, as a human, I cannot do this.”
With that almost supernatural creative power also comes a benevolent affection for her subjects. “When you’re an artist, you love. You love your work… You don’t have judgment… God is teaching you to love everyone like you love yourself,” she noted.
“As a person, I have a choice to like or not to like the person… I’m judging. I’m just a normal person. I cannot love everyone. I don’t want to love everyone. I don’t how to love everyone,” Ella conceded. “As a sculptor, you are them. You go behind the skin. You’re the soul. You bleed through them… You know this person. You are that person. It’s only that when you are that person, you can do that person.”
See Ella Kogan’s pure artistic expression by visiting her website.