Illya Goldman Gubin is part of Highsnobiety Shop’s Athletics Footwear campaign. The Athletics One.2 will be available exclusively via
Illya Goldman Gubin — or IGG, as he abbreviates his name — is a multi-disciplinary artist based in Berlin, with strong ties to fashion and photography. His work, which can’t easily be defined or put in a box, ranges from paintings and sculptures to furniture and clothing.
Alongside his atelier in Berlin’s Tempelhof neighborhood, where he displays and sells his work, IGG also runs an eponymous brand: “I see my brand as a continuation of my artworks. It is not a fashion line or merch, but works of art that are created from works of art.”
The artist’s Struktur Boot, sold via his store, best exemplifies what IGG means. It’s art, but can also become fashion, should the owner choose to remove the boot from the artwork. If not, the boot remains part of the artwork and can be displayed as such.
IGG’s site explains the Struktur Boot’s versatility: “The owner of the artpiece can either leave the STRUKTUR DISTORTION TALL BOOT in the STRUKTUR artwork or remove the footwear by force. In this case, the owner will have the STRUKTUR DISTORTION TALL BOOT to wear and the STRUKTUR artwork will remain as an origin and energized object in the living space.”
“My ideas for clothes come from my artistic practice. Sometimes, however, it happens the other way around,” IGG explains. “When you reflect on that, you understand that it all makes sense.”
His decision to run a brand alongside his atelier stems from the fact that IGG used to work in the fashion industry. Much of what he did before becoming an artist — and many of the things he learned while working in fashion — still inform his work today. “Fashion was the door-opener of feeling and reconnection. Photography has taught me, subconsciously, how to approach compositions, spatial interpretations, and the golden ratio. Consciously, it brought philosophical questions, answers, and ideas.
Over the years, as Illya has developed, so too has his work, and he believes that progression goes hand-in-hand. “One cannot develop one without the other — it is an eternal circle,” says IGG. “I hope that if an artist works consistently with certain materials long enough, the audience will be able to read the emotions and the strength of the creator from the outcome. And vice versa, I hope that the creator continues to learn from the material. A true dialogue.”
IGG has a clear aesthetic, and a quick browse through the artist’s website or Instagram account shows as much. “My whole work and a big part of my personal life are based on the Japanese philosophical concept of wabi-sabi,” IGG says. “Simply expressed, wabi-sabi is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, singular and incomplete — a comprehensive aesthetic system.”
For lack of a better comparison, his work looks a little like Rick Owens was dragged through the Upside Down in Stranger Things. It’s dark and almost fantastical in some cases, but also highly relatable, due to IGG’s penchant for creating his version of everyday objects.
“In our everyday life as well as on the Internet, we are surrounded by bright colors to get our attention,” IGG muses. “I think for that reason I unconsciously searched for a color scale with more subdued colors that corresponded more to a philosophical inner world.”
IGG’s creative process is very much his own and varies from piece to piece. “With each idea comes its own creative approach,” he explains. “Since my working practice is based a lot on coincidence, accident, time, and space, the real magic happens in the process itself. In the process, due to complex materials, my works hardly allow me time to think and weigh different possibilities. Therefore, my artwork has control over me and not I over the artwork.”
In a world where art, fashion, and — at times — life are almost indistinguishable from one another, IGG’s work manages to touch all three spaces equally. Where his journey will take him, he’s unsure. One thing is certain, however: “Wabi-sabi deeply moved me and inspires me to this day. My past, present, and future work is strongly derived from it and Japanese expressions.
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