Mila Gokhman Mila Gokhman


What follows is a constantly accruing collection of statements and musings by Mila Gokhman

On Tallinn, Estonia, September 7, 2020
"In Tallinn, Estonia, I was given a totally unexpected chance for the deepest change in my life. When I returned home to Kiev, I began to work with the presented, colorful scraps of Tallinn leather. On the 7th of January, 1967, was my birth as an artist. Tallinn took some special place in my heart. I feel myself to be an Estonian citizen. Ancient city, architecture, a special and free atmosphere in Estonia, in some way different than in other parts of the former Soviet Union. It brought me a special view, a special sense of life. How long I will live, I will be grateful to Tallinn, to its people, to its nature, to its sky, to the waves of the Finnish Gulf, and the main thing, to the sense of beauty and harmony on each step. Tallinn, the whole city was my university. I would be so grateful and proud if my ashes would be spread in the waters of the Finnish Gulf."

On Kiev's Golosievo Forest, September 7, 2020
"In Kiev, the most important part of my life was in connecting with nature. My home was close to the Golosievo Forest. Allée of 300-year-old oak trees, birch grove, ash trees, maple trees, pines, and so on; grasses and flowers; sunrises and sunsets; sun rays through branches; foggy, rainy, snowy days; multicolor intensity of life. It was my inspiration. The trees were my saviors from vulnerable events of Soviet reality." 
Image: Sunset in Golosievo Forest, 1972.  Leather relief.


Artist Statement, 2002
"Abstraction is a generalization of human experience.

No other direction of fine art operates with philosophical concepts as abstract art does.

My leather jewelry is not in any way connected with fashion. It is the art of shaping, glorifying the beauty of the human body. In this sense, it relates to the art of abstraction in the same way as most of my easel works. It is also akin to music."

Image: Leather body/clothing ornament, c.1991

Quoted in Business Club, No.1, May 1997

“All the technology of my work is built on a natural principle. A work grows – like a tree, like grass, like a flower. The buds of the idea swelling, opening up, throwing out shoot after shoot, branching, exulting in flowering (maybe this is inspiration.) Finally, gaining the completeness of a mature fruit, bearing the seed of a new life, a new plan.”

"Leather Jewelry," in Azbuca #2, Kiev, 1994
(accompanied profusely illlustrated article, "Meet the Master," by Veronika Volpina, which included this photographic portrait)

"Leather is one of the oldest materials that has accompanied man.
Untreated and treated animal skins served as clothing, were used to create musical instruments, and so on. Gradually, with expansion of civilization, leather began to show an increasing number of different qualities (depending on the methods of its processing) and be used more widely.

Hand and machine embossing, gilding, painting, engraving, sewing, inlay are ancient types of leather processing. In everyday life leather has been used as an indispensable material for making shoes, clothes, as a covering for furniture, for many haberdashery items.

One day in Tallinn I saw the work of Veronica Kaevandes, who used narrow colored strips of leather (waste from the leather studio of the Tallinn Art Factory) to create a panel. After receiving as a gift a bag of colored scraps of leather and a bottle of latex glue, I returned home and began to enthusiastically search and find! more and more new products of this amazing material, the main of which – plasticity – gave most unexpected and inspiring impulses for creative work.

Here is the general range of my artistic interests in this field of creativity:
1. Easel leather works – plastic and color – can be purely decorative or filled with deep philosophical meaning.
2. Clothing made of different materials using leather as a finishing material.
3. Leather clothes with the use of various techniques of decorative design; artistic haberdashery, which tends towards jewelry.
4. "Jewelry leather" – an independent direction of creativity, which hides inexhaustible possibilities as a component and decoration of clothing.
5. Belts and purses as parts of fashion ensembles.
6. Creation and decoration of book covers – a huge field of creative opportunities.

Summing up, we see that the use of leather is possible in the widest range – this is "pure" art – philosophical reflections in plastic terms; interior, book, jewelry, clothes, shoes, accessories, etc. Centuries of human development, the traditions of nations have made their contributions to the subject and the technical arsenal of the application of this living, breathing material."

Leather book cover and vase, as installed in her
solo exhibition, Plasticity and Color,
Yelagin Palace, St. Petersburg, 1981