Toma & IK Stenko
creative mother & son tandem
These bright artists will not leave anyone indifferent! So we couldn`t resist and are in a hurry to share these diamonds with you!
Toma Stenko (b. 1980) is a Georgian-born artist, film director and fashion designer who graduated from St Martin's. Her work is predominately dominated by themes of a romantic, sexual, maternal, forbidden, self, broken and new nature, as she likes the idea that love is a roller-coaster of emotions that we all share.
IK was born on January 1st 2013 in London, where his parents had been working for some amount of time – his father in cinematography, mother – in design. Since he was just two, IK has been drawing everywhere and anywhere it was possible – on the walls, beer cases, business documents, the white dress of his mum – everywhere where he was allowed to and not. The thing that brought him the most joy was spray- painting himself on the forehead, cheeks, and tummy, and then hugging a refrigerator or a washing machine while still covered in paint.

Having gotten a little older, he started painting abstract figures, spots on the canvas and making up titles for them, for example "A disposed of TV which no one remembered to turn off." His parents never told him off for repainting and colouring the world around him.

Nowadays, he has started to paint the real world – "Geese", "Tulips", "Melons", "Bees". He asks what he should do so that his "Melons" could smell, and "Bees" buzz.
IK is 9 years old, and he continues to fantasize and change the world.
- How did art come into your life? Please, tell us more about your background and your way to art.
- My life reminds me of a cloud, I'm always flying somewhere, the only things that change are sceneries, people's faces, names of hotels, and the rest is an endless dialogue with beauty. As inspiration is spilled everywhere – in raindrops, the sound of wind, the breath of the sea, everywhere. The most important and probably the most difficult thing is being able to feel it. To see the seen in the unseen, the infinity in the finiteness. I've always painted in my imagination – on the sand, stones, and at some point I moved onto canvases, paper. When I studied at the renowned St. Martins School in London, one of my professors was the famous Louise Wilson. She was the person who suggested making a living out of painting to me, but at that time I had other things on my mind.

When I reached my breaking point, and it seemed like my whole world shattered in one instance, it was painting that saved me. It gave me wings, which I continue to fly on till date. I'm thankful to the universe for that overcoming, because it is what helps us get back to our roots, meanings, to the self. I recall, five years ago when I was drawing on scraps of paper, tissues, my elder son, German, a wonderful artist and designer, student of the St. Martins Scholl in London, said upon seeing it, "Mum, what an interesting line", and that marked the start of my journey. I will always be thankful for these words. At a time when you don't trust yourself, only one word of one person who could believe in you, is enough to change everything. It's an unbelievable power, which forges miracles!!!
- What are the technics that you are using in your creative work and what topics you explore?
- I unbelievably love colour. I like researching it endlessly, listening to it, colliding it, and every time I feel surprised of how little we know about it. It's an infinity… I dedicate a lot of my time to experimenting, I feel like at those moments something happens, you find your protagonist, a line, colour, when your canvas starts talking to you – this is how paintings are born. The theme of love is something that moves me, it has thousands of shades, shapes, and states. This is why artists go back to it, just like hundreds of years ago. There are eternal themes, which you are just trying to reach, to rethink, feel, hear, and maybe understand… When I hear the sound of the sea, I want to talk about love, when I see something beautiful, I also want to express it through love. To me art is love, my air, my life…
- Your paintings are very colorful, very expressive, you have probably watched how people react to your artworks, what reactions did you meet?
- I'm always surprised of how deeply viewers interact with canvases, it is through them that one can better recognize and hear your works. A canvas that only a minute ago belonged to you starts to live its own life. It is through the viewer that it starts to unravel, gaining its own space, its own life. There are imponderable things which I call magic, when you're in your workshop having a one on one conversation with your canvas, when you follow your fantasy, trying to tap into aromas, lines… As soon as you make the last touch, the works ceases to belong to you, embarking on its own journey.
- Tell us a little about the exhibition "Fragile angel" and the upcoming show in Qatar, please
- The "Fragile Angel" exhibition is a story about the modern world, its fragility. The world today akin to a crystal ball, one can admire it while holding it in one's hands, but with only one careless movement it can get shattered into pieces. Today we live at a very difficult time where the fragility of relations is being tested every moment. Worlds which seemed unshakable before are now destroyed. An endless misunderstanding between people, countries, worlds. We really wanted to remind all that, love, and love only, can changes things for the better. Only angels with thier hearts filled with love towards the world, singing to us about the eternal and more importantly – love. Today, life has proven, no matter who you are, what race, religion, gender, economic class and profession you belong to, and no matter where and in which prosperous country in the world you live in, we are not sure that "tomorrow" will come. And the reason is political instability and threats of nuclear war in the world and new pandemic.

Venice is the place where it is necessary and possible to speak about unification, unity and peace. Venice has often been an example of the unification of East and West, together with Marco Polo and Venetian merchants, Venice opened routes to Asia and the Far East.

Time to drop all "differences" and unite! And only Angels will help us!

Angels have no gender, no race, no religion. Angeles are in Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Yazidism, Zoroastrianism and so on. Angels have appeared in works of art since early Christian art, and they have been a popular subject for Byzantine and European paintings and sculpture.

All angels originate from the human race, and there is not one angel in heaven who first did not live in a material body. The life of angels is that of usefulness, and their functions are so many that they cannot be enumerated. However each angel will enter a service according to the use that they had performed in their earthly life. Angels in all religious was a servant of God who come to help people.

- When you hear – «Artists Toma and Ik Stenko – a creative mother & son tandem» - what do you think? What does it mean to you? (Question to the Ik)
- For me it's about being with my favorite artist. When we're together we always paint on canvases, stones, walls, everywhere. My mum and I travel a lot, and every time we go somewhere, our workshop comes with us. Our suitcases and backpacks are always full of paints, canvases, paper, brushes, which are very heavy. We fly a lot because our angels have given us wings.

- Can you, please, draw a portrait of you both right now? (it can be in whatever technique, figurative or abstract, and send it to us) (Question to the Ik)
- You have a very original vision in your works, where does it come from? (Question to the Ik)
- When I was little, nobody knew I was an artist, and only my mum knew that all along. I did my first work on a wall, when I was 2 or 3 months old, I don't remember exactly. When I made it (the painting), everyone started telling me off, but my mum said "Why are you coming down on him? He was born an artist."

I wander around my worlds, colours, clouds with my lovely puppy. Inspiration is what helps me with it. I always paint my fantasies.
Contacts Toma Stenko