Halloween Special: Olga Abeleva

In the week leading up to October 31st, we will be sharing the bone-chilling work of some of our favourite freaky artists, alongside a hair-raisingly festive little interview!

Is that a monster under my bed, or is it me? Olga Abeleva’s characters, while verging on fantasy, are relatable. They occupy quotidian planes in moments that seem to exist in the psychic space that prefaces a disaster—flames licking the edges of a curtain; a scorned lover chain smoking woefully outside, plotting revenge; a cockroach scuttling toward an unassuming hand; a knife dancing between flesh. Almost as if each painting is a window into the same world, these characters coexist, unaware of the inevitable tragedy doomed to befall them. Sounds pretty scary, right? What’s scarier is thinking about all the ways in which you, dear reader, are unaware of the doom that’s waiting for you—just around the corner! – Rebecca Storm

what possesses you to create?
For the last two years that I’ve been deep into painting, it’s a commitment to the characters I made. I imagine them inhabiting neighbouring worlds and interacting with each other “off set,” so that for the next painting, they’ve evolved on their own. I think of each painting as an episode in a soap opera, with a rotating cast of actors trying out different roles, extras fighting for the spotlight, personal secrets spilling out onto the stage. Each painting ends with a cliffhanger and I have to keep coming up with new episodes to satisfy my own curiousity.

what was your most memorable halloween experience/costume?
The first time I found out about the concept of Halloween was in 2005, and my brother and I capitalized on it to the best of our abilities. We wore pretty generic costumes (witch and skeleton I think?) and were the first ones out on the street and the last ones to go home. We made our rounds and had a hiking backpack full of candy that we would hide in the bushes, taking humble baskets up to the front doors. It was such a wild concept—unlimited free goods, it felt like a trick. There’s a picture of us at two in the morning, completely ecstatic, with the entire floor of our room filled with candy.

what is your favourite horror movie and why?
I’m not a huge horror film connoisseur, but I remember watching 3 Women by Robert Altman and feeling genuinely terrified because of the suspense brought by music.

do you ever wish to induce fear or discomfort through your work?
There is an element of being haunted, for some characters. But the roles can be flipped at any time.

what are you most afraid of?
Betrayal, the dark, insects…

do you believe in ghosts?
No, but my boyfriend does, and one time we had to move from our place because it was haunted. So ghosts can have a lasting effect even on lives of non-believers.

do you believe in magic?
Yes, I think there’s magic in storytelling.

have you ever had any sort of supernatural or paranormal encounter?
I experienced an astral flight once. That was the closest I came to a lucid interaction with the world of the dead.

given the choice, would you become immortal?
No, I wouldn’t want to be trapped like that. I would love the ability to visit people who have passed away.

if you were a monster what kind of monster would you be?
Something related to water, like a hydra.