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Interview with artist N.Stortelder


I r e n  R u s s o 

Interview with artist N.Stortelder

Can you tell us about the process of making your work?

Every time the process is a little different. Ideas are everywhere and when one sticks I have to get it out of my head. Sometimes I will set up a photoshoot with a specific idea in mind and other times the structures of an image will lead me completely. Photography is almost always the basis of my work but I still think sculpturally; copying, pasting, layering, and transforming imagery into a new reality.

Sometimes it feels like I work in reverse. Only at the end of the making process when I feel the work is finished I can clearly see the meaning in what I was trying to achieve.

What is your daily routine when working?

I don’t have a set daily routine when working and that is something that I like. Each phase of my art practice has its own routine characteristics, however, in all of my practice the studio must be tidy and clean. This keeps my head empty enough to focus on the art.

Meditation helps me to listen to what is really important, and coffee helps me buzz with ideas whilst listening to the Coffee Jazz playlist…

What was the key influence that led to the development of your process and style?

During a study of advertising, communication and design I realised I was drawn towards the photographic elements of the process. This led me down a different path into the fine art world where I eventually graduated as a sculptor from the art academy.

The choice to switch from the foundation year “Lifestyle & Design” to Fine Art and graduating as a sculptor has been of great value not only for the process but also my style.

What does art mean to you personally? Is there a goal you’re trying to accomplish?

Art is my diary. It is an escape and a release. It is a filter to see the world through. I try to understand myself and the world through art.

Do you have a life philosophy? Does your creative practice fit in with this philosophy?

My motto in life since I was little has been „Then die“ (in response to the question; What is the worst that can happen?) This motto has brought me to special places, has led me to special people and has pushed me to do things that I was initially afraid of. This sounds a little heavier than it actually is because of course I don’t want to die…

I also try to live a healthy life by looking after my body, but also my mind. When they are in balance, the creative work can flow more easily.

However, I am aware that black cannot do without white. There are days when everything goes against the grain, when I don’t understand the world. These “dark” days can also give me inspiration. This makes me wonder what happens when everything is in perfect balance. Could I still make art?

Have you ever had a moment when you questioned your career entirely?

Of course, everyday.

How has covid affected you and your art?

Practically speaking, because of the pandemic my part-time work as a teacher was largely canceled, and therefore, I had all the time in the world with my good old all-time favorite friend; My Art.

It felt like home. I finally had some time to take a step back and see from a distance what I had been doing all these years – only creating, with no real structure or plan. I decided to invest some time in organizing all of that work and create more structure moving forward.

I was also able to create a bit of a platform for my work and communicate with a small but appreciative audience which I feel extremely grateful for, especially during these times.

How do you think the art world will shape in the future?

In the same way it has always done.

What’s next?

I am currently doing research on how I can bring my 2D digital work back into a 3D reality. Next to that, I want to create a solo exhibition with the biggest prints possible.

Instagram Noortje Stortelder: @noortje_stortelder

Profile picture is made by photographer Jon Twigg

“Success is an Emotion”: Interview with Fashion Designer Roma Uvarov


Julia Kryshevich

“Success is an Emotion”: Interview with Fashion Designer Roma Uvarov

Roma Uvarov is 23 years old, seven of which he has devoted to fashion. Born in the small city in the south of Russia, he first moved to Moscow to showcase his collection at Fashion Week and take part in a popular TV show about vogue. Internationally acknowledged as an up-and-coming Gen Z designer, Roma Uvarov admits he neither enjoys rubbing elbows in professional circles, nor likes talking too much. However, he has generously shared his life experience with us. More on the contradictory personality of Roma Uvarov (who is a renegade, a romantic, and a hard worker at once), read in the interview below.

PH: You call yourself a visual, and it is reflected in your biography. While attending the PR faculty, you felt disappointed in the learning process and took up some creative pastimes such as Photoshop classes and reading self-help books. Why fashion? After all, it requires some hard skills like sewing and stitching… 

R.U: Even before entering the university, I thought of running my own business. You know, I realized the irrelevance of public education rather early — it just makes you lose your interest in the subject chosen. However, I felt the need to study marketing so that I could promote and present my business in the future. There are many examples like that today, when a really good artist or a graphic designer just can’t tell the audience what his works are about. 

In my case, I was impressed by fashion from early on, watching TV shows as a kid and trying to make conceptual collages later. Yet I wouldn’t think of becoming a fashion designer at the time! But at a certain point I started thinking about my plans for life, asked myself what I wanted to achieve… and then Olya Sadovaya came along. Olya is quite a prominent fashion designer in Krasnodar, the city I was staying during my studies. So, yes, we met at some local party and she offered me a job at her studio.

PH: That’s how you received your first job offer in fashion. When did you have a feeling you were ready for more?

R.U: In Olya’a studio I was responsible for social media marketing and brand promotion. My boss was satisfied with my work, so quite soon my duties were expanded. I became Olya’s right hand, together we elaborated new collections, making them cool, unusual without spending much money. Otherwise it wouldn’t work as we needed to stay within the modest budget of the studio (I even worked for free for 2,5 years there). Then Olya would marry, have a child and, obviously, step back a bit… At some point I realized I got to move on, so I started thinking of setting up my own label.

PH: So you left? 

R.U: When I first tried making clothes myself, I felt something had changed. Back then I was young and active and open to experience. I experimented a lot while still working for Olya and finally I decided to launch my brand of sweatshirts. I think it was 2016. Since then I’ve been signing my clothes, which brought the competitive spirit in my relations with the head of the studio. 

The last straw was the arrival of a potential (and long-awaited) investor, who was ready to support us financially on the condition that he could influence the brand’s politics and vision. Of course, I wasn’t ok with that. One day I left the studio. Working as an independent designer now I always strive for autonomy. I don’t look back at the others, I try to create something brand new. Yes, I’m an introvert, yet I love finding myself in the flow of life. 

PH: What collection do you consider your first one?

R.U: That’s hard. I see a collection as a pool of looks and garments, something big… While working for Olya Sadovaya, it still wasn’t like that. When I got separated, yes, that’s another story. My first collection consisted of T-shirts, just a merch. I would get bored soon, so I switched to creating fully-fledged ready-to-wear looks.

PH: In 2018 you debuted at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia. You’ve been a regular participant of the fashion event ever since. However, we didn’t see any collections by Roma Uvarov Design in the recent seasons of MBFW (April and October, 2020), which ran mostly online. Why? 

R.U: Oh yes, I perfectly remember how it was. A few months before the MBFW we (hereinafter, Roma Uvarov Design team) wrote a letter to the organizers of the event complaining that young regional brands, unlike the Moscow-based ones, don’t receive any financial support. So they agreed to help us! 

Concerning the latest seasons, Roma Uvarov Design should have participated in the program in April, however, the life shows were cancelled and we didn’t want to engage in digital format. Personally I don’t feel anything special while staring at the screen… Together with my assistant I headed to my homeland Adygeya to wait out the period of quarantine… and then the MBFW organizers reached me. It was three days before the event and they eventually wanted me to take part! So we created a series of mood boards with some bright colleges that looked somewhat bizarre, just in the spirit of the brand. 

Of course, I hoped for a life MBFW taking place in autumn, I wished I could show two collections by Roma Uvarov Design at once. Unfortunately, it has even got worse in terms of the pandemic, so we decided to make a separate life fashion show inviting guests, constructing some art objects, all in all, making up an entire concept. 

PH: By the way, in the recent season of MBFW there were a few participants of the Krasnodar-based ‘Fashion a la Russe’ project, namely, Olga Kazakova, Nadezhda Belousova, Valeria Klimovskikh. Do you know any of them? You might have crossed paths while hanging around in the designers’ community in Krasnodar. 

R.U: To be perfectly honest, none of the names sound familiar to me. While working in Krasnodar, I desperately sought an opportunity of working independently, thus, I was for separation from the professional community. On the whole, I’m not good at getting on with those people who I differ on certain points with. It brings negativity to my life, which I constantly try to avoid. Actually, you don’t have time to chat, when you are all about work. 

By the way, it was the ‘Fashion a la Russe’ project that helped me to get to my first MBFW. Although I could take part in the event for free, I badly needed money for the trip and accommodation and staging the show… We turned to ‘Fashion a la Russe’, and they provided us with some financial support, so we could showcase our collection in Moscow and in St. Petersburg the next day. 

PH: You also took part in ‘Podium’ (editor’s note: the Russian counterpart for ‘Project Runway’ reality TV show). What do you think of that experience? Do you see it rather as a way to promote yourself or an opportunity to level up, advance your design skills? Is it real at all to learn something on TV shows that are primarily meant to entertain the audience? 

R.U: You can always learn something in any situation. The thing is to realize what and how you can learn in specific circumstances. Frankly speaking, I don’t enjoy being solely identified with ‘Podium’, because the collections I launch under Roma Uvarov Design are superior to anything I did on the project. What I do now is more sincere and laborious, however, I love reminiscing about those times on the project. 

Taking part in ‘Podium’ turned out to be a tremendously new experience for me. For 2 months I and the other participants stayed in a hotel where we did nothing but worked and interacted with each other (on camera, of course). We neither could use our mobile devices, nor chat with strangers on the streets. The pressure was strong, which made us do our best. 

As for the TV show itself, it would be an exaggeration to claim that ‘Podium’ focused on vogue. First of all, it was a reality show about designers, an old-fashioned one, I might say. Just imagine a group of fashion designers competing for the title of the best tailor or cutter. That hardly matches reality, does it? Obviously, I wanted to promote myself participating in ‘Podium’. It was 2018, I already graduated from the university and was planning to settle down in Moscow. The project just quickened the move and made a great ad campaign to my T-shirts collection (which I, actually, foresaw). 

PH: Today many young creatives face the issue of self-positioning. In the modern world it seems ok to promote oneself on every corner. However, sometimes that can prevent the person from striving for quality of the product. How do you figure out this problem? 

R.U: I just realize the brand’s DNA. It absolutely coincides with my DNA as a designer. Roma Uvarov Design is all about the taste, it’s really subjective. Thus, the promotion of myself and my brand are twin interdependent processes. I am personally engaged in PR support and other tasks. I don’t find it right to devote all the time to creativity — one also needs to market and establish the working process. All in all, my job is very important and reasonable, I would hardly call it creative. But one thing for sure, I purely enjoy it. 

By the way, I’m a big fan of restrictions. To my mind, a free person is the one who establishes some frameworks and lives with them. Otherwise, I just mess around clutching at everything (If only I could do all those things perfectly). I also don’t enjoy having free time, it discourages me. 

PH: Back to your collections. One could call you an upcycle-designer: you take some long-forgotten things and use them as decorative elements in the outfits. Is it just a creative approach or you follow here an eco-friendly mission? 

R.U: It’s a kind of inner impulse. I want to recycle the old material to give it a second life. About 80% of my first collection was manufactured under the upcycling principle. I have always been into upcycling, but in the beginning of the pandemic I felt the relevance of that issue anew. 

The question that I faced at the time was what to do with the winter collection that I couldn’t fully present. So we together with the NOB agency (editor’s note: Roma Uvarov Design is presented by the Moscow-based fashion bureau and showroom NOB agency) decided to collect all the unused materials to integrate them into the new out-of-season collection. There were so many things that we feared not to be able to cover them all. However, we managed to do that. Nothing had been thrown away, the upcycling policy was also applied to the production of accessories. 

PH: Minimalism is all the rage. People try to get rid of the extra items and obsessions. Collections by Roma Uvarov Design don’t really fit into this philosophy, right? 

R.U: To begin with, Roma Uvarov Design is not about following fashion trends. Surely, we elaborate our collections in compliance with some principles that we share such as calm, rationality, body consciousness. However, I don’t think that minimalism is so trendy. Folks have always liked standing out of the crowd. Thus, in the nearest future it might be appropriate to talk about austerity blended with a grain of personal approach. 

How do you define ‘success’?  

R.U: Well, it’s tricky. On the one hand, success is about stability with everyone doing one’s own thing, enjoying it and charging for it, of course. On the other hand, I, personally, feel successful when facing some unexpected projects, stepping out of my comfort zone. The latter is even a better fit for me. Unfortunately, the industry of fashion in Russia doesn’t develop that quickly. Sometimes I feel like my job doesn’t fulfill me, everything goes so regular. Yet under stress I feel a lot happier. Say, success is an emotion. Every team should have it, because it unites and enriches all of us. 

PH: And final question, how has the pandemic affected your creative process in terms of goal setting? 

R.U: I find the COVID-19 pandemic a very interesting time with no bindings existing. No doubt, there are still some unwritten canons for designers: e.g. one should launch new campaigns. But at the same time one is free to work at their own pace and on their terms. It feels like life has been put on pause. 

I had the same thing. In early spring 2020 I went home to the sunny Adygeya. In fact, I didn’t have to work, so I spent my time reflecting. As a result, I started accepting myself. Before that I used to be afraid of calling myself a romantic (that I obviously was). I thought it went against the grain of my public image. I used a pretentious look as a protection means against the world around me. Today I have every confidence that clothes should play up a personality, and not vice versa. I have also reviewed the history of my family. It’s the new genuine Roma Uvarov standing before you now with fresh green blood running through his veins.

All photographs provided and owned by Roma Uvarov Design

Interview with artist Tania Rivilis


L i s a  L u k i a n o v a

Interview with artist Tania Rivilis
Hello Tania! Thank you for taking time for that interview. As I read in your biography you started painting at the age of 27. Have you always been interested in Art or was it an impulsive decision? Could you please tell us more how you came up with the idea of expressing yourself through the painting?
I don’t know why it took me so long to start painting. I can’t help myself but think about what it would be like if I started, for example, at the age of 10, how different would it be now. But anyway at this point I’m trying to make up for all that lost time in every possible way. My acquaintance with oil paints happened in Germany, where I had moved at around 26. All my life I had been feeling that I had to express something, that this craving for art was always in me.
And I had been drawn to art for a long time: I studied media design and art history at the university and could stare at a picture in a museum for hours (I was lucky that Moscow and St. Petersburg are packed with great museums). But the urge to paint really rolled over and splashed out when I was left all alone and away from home, from comfort, from being inside the community and not out. After a noisy crowded metropolis, a small German city (I moved to Essen at that time) seemed to be absolutely silent. All the buzz stopped, leaving me with nothing but my consciousness. Perhaps this new state of mind helped me to concentrate on the inner side. My boyfriend (who is now my husband) gifted me oil paints, brushes, and canvas. At first, there were indecisive strokes with a small brush, dozens of books by old masters, and copies of their works. But after a few years, my movements became more confident, and the colors got bolder. And here I am now: covering wood panels with wide brush strokes and painting the shadows with ultramarine or bright orange.
2. How did your moving to Germany from Russia affect your creativity and perception of the world?
Germany is a country of order and accuracy, but also of freedom of being whoever you want to be: I guess such people as David Bowie or Iggy Pop were drawn here for a reason. I suppose this atmosphere helped me get away from all the mess in my head left from my previous life, and finally, be liberated. Although the German autumn still kicks my happy thinking’s ass sometimes, I owe it to those days spent at home with a cup of hot tea, music in the background, and the smell of oil paints.
I live in Aachen now, a beautiful city with small streets of great history, the smell of Prints (traditional Aachen cookies), right on the border of Netherlands and Belgium. This freedom of choice, freedom of movement, a variety of cultures and traditions, languages, cuisine, etc. – this really changed my worldview.
3. How did you find your own unique style of painting or are you still exploring new art languages and techniques? Describe your style in one sentence, please.

Well, I’m still searching for my own expressive language and style, and it seems that this search, this path IS my style in a way. It is still too young to be constant, but already strong enough to write a series of paintings for several galleries. Because of the fact that I came to art so late, I subconsciously try to travel a very long way in an incredibly short time. It feels like I am late for the train and run after it, jumping on the step with one foot – this is how I see my presence on the art scene. As for the technique, I accidentally discovered the OSB panel about a year ago in the Bauhaus. I thought “this is a damn fine surface for a painting”, and ever since have been painting mainly on these panels, having pre-processed the edges and covering them. The oil adheres perfectly to the surface and the texture of the pressed woodиis perfectly visible and gives an unexpected vibe and sense to the picture.
Color is the power – that’s how I would describe my style. Color has some kind of magical power over people. It excites and frightens, lures and rejects. In my works, I want to convey this power – in every stroke, in every line. But if I were to pull my head out of the box with some pretty talking, I could simply say I paint in Contemporary Realism style.
4. You mainly do portraits. So, how do you choose a model for these? Are you painting from photographs or do people pose for you? Please tell us about the process of working with the model or the choice of the model.
I adore people with a non-standard appearance, with unique beauty – the artist can spot such people in the crowd in a couple of seconds. These are people with expressive, explicit facial features or wonderfully deep and sad eyes. There is some kind of connection that is established and strengthened after I paint the portrait. I find a model on the street, in a cafe, on Instagram. Sometimes I can come out as a total creep, staring at a person, imagining writing his or her face, painting a nose with a beautiful hump, and adding a highlight to the edge of the pupil. Hope I don’t make these people go paranoid.
Usually, the process is like this: I invite the model to the studio (already having ideas for the portrait in my head), take a couple of photos (ok, not a couple, often the number is around 100). Then I select those that came out closest to my idea. I make some sketches, plan the composition and color scheme. Although I can honestly say that in the process everything
changes by 80 percent. What I focus on most is the eyes. The eyes can tell a lot more about a person than anything else.
5. Tell us about the spaces within you live and work.
I work in our house in a small studio under the roof. The house is located not far from the forest, so through the window, I see treetops, puffy clouds, and incredible sunsets. Unfortunately, because of my main job, I often get a chance to get to my studio only in the evening. So I created a lighting system: a mix of warm and cold light that helps (albeit with difficulty) to see what I paint. But sometimes I manage to work during the day, on weekends mostly. I had dreamed of natural daylight for a long time and when we moved to Aachen my dream came true. Now I have a new dream – a big studio (hear that, universe?). But I love
the one I have now – it is ideally cozy, smells of oil paints and coffee, a vinyl record or lectures playing, – this is my meditation room, my fortress. On the cedar wood walls, there are paintings in antique frames: my first works that I keep or some paintings from the artist fellas. In the middle, there is a vintage sofa, a bookshelf, and a vintage büro. Two easels, one large and one smaller for parallel work. I try to change my focus if something doesn’t work, so switching from one to the other refreshes the look. And then, returning back to the painting after a pause gives you the possibility to see mistakes that are easier to correct.
6. What is inspiration for you and where do you derive it from? Do you struggle with periods of burnout or vice versa allow emotions to take up?

My most powerful inspiration is people, their faces, eyes, gestures. As well as the combination of colors in nature, the light falling on my sister’s eyelashes, beautiful thin fingers on the phone, an open ankle, veins on an arm. Traveling is one more source of inspiration, people from other cultures, different smells and sounds. Sometimes absolutely strange things can channel my vibe, and I immediately take photos of them for the future because you never know what will come out in handy.
As for the second part of your question, I used to think that I am the only one having burnouts and that this is due to the fact that I am a rookie in painting. But after talking to friends (great artists with many years of experience and recognition), I realized that all creative people are doomed to bear this burden. We have to release all the energy and replenish it, and the period between these two states is that very burnout. Sometimes it takes longer, sometimes it goes quickly. As a very emotional person, I immediately react to such shifts and at times not at all positively. Frankly, there are moments when I want to break my brushes and throw the picture out of the window. But you come to senses (or somebody gives you a good old “you are not shit” pep talk), understand that everybody sucks from time to time, it doesn’t mean the end of the world, the picture can hit the neighbor’s head and that will definitely not be productive at all. Therefore, I go do some sports (I love MMA) or jogging. Sport helps distract the mind and relieve emotional tension.
7. “Tania’s works are focused on the philosophical reading of the human image and the dialectical concept of the human soul.”- this is a quote from your website. Could you please elaborate more what you mean by this?
We all have things to hide. Something we don’t want others to see, something we wish to keep unknown and untouched, something that makes us – us, both good and bad. With that something comes a story. And my paintings aim to tell that story: unique, brave, and most of all honest. The whole idea of a portrait, of an artist exposing the inner side of a model is very
intimate. That is why I always try to get to know my companion first: to make him or her comfortable, to break the tension which almost always freezes a non-professional model, to learn that very story I’m so eager to translate into visual language. A portrait is not just about the technique, and I guess that is why I’m so focused on it. In order to create something worthy, you have to explore human nature – for the painting to be not about the artist, but about the person on it. Live, sometimes even strange postures and gestures, expressive faces, and the most important part – the eyes full of feelings, secrets, and thoughts.
Through years I’d been trying to find my way to capture that great human lure that cannot be told with words. The answer was discovered in being bold. We are used to seeing the world in colors and textures it comes in, but sometimes they are just not enough to reveal life in its true fullness. Sometimes a touch of a loved one is warmer than the sun, sometimes space becomes ephemeral consisting of nothing but emptiness, sometimes tenderness comes along with anguish, and agony is cloaked with peace. It may not be realistic, but it’s perfectly real.

8.What are your future artistic plans and current projects you are working on.

There is an exhibition currently taking place at the Bonnard Gallery in the Netherlands. I met David and Rene (the owners of the gallery) not so long ago, but I’m already totally crazy about them. They are professionals from head to toes, and I am happy to be working with them. At the moment I am working on sketches for large paintings for Bonnard, as well as for several other galleries in the Netherlands and other countries.

I also do works for my regular clients in St. Petersburg and Moscow. For them I mainly paint historical portraits, some can be seen in the great Astoria Hotel or the Marble Palace. The history of the Russian Empire is my other passion. And I am glad there are people who try to preserve it.
Unfortunately, due to the current situation, many projects had to be postponed, but I believe that someday everything will go back to normal, whatever that normal is. There are a lot of plans and ideas in my head. As well as artistically evolving, developing my style, gaining some trust and acclaim in the art community, and never stopping.

Interview with artist Anna Tsvell


I r i n a  R u s i n o v i c h

Interview with artist Anna Tsvell

Hello Anna, thank you for taking time for that interview. Let’s start with a first question. What was your journey up until now in becoming an artist?
Hello !
Well I decided to be a full time artist not so long ago – in 2014 year and it was one of the best decisions in my life. I have a bachelor degree in Developmental and Child Psychology but I didn’t work even one day as a child psychologist. I’ve been working as a copywriter and event manager but I always was dreaming to be independent and to work for myself – in 2014 my dream came true.

You have a very recognizable artistic style in your paintings. What did it take to develop it?
Thank you for noticing the uniqueness of my style – it is very important for me.
As a said before I began my art career in 2014 year and I did it from absolute zero – at first I began as a digital artist but it was easy, I was just redrawing some photos and it was boring so I decided to draw and paint with traditional art supplies. I didn’t know anything about art world and art business when I was staring, I did everything very intuitively but even than I knew that I want my own remarkable style. And it was hard – hard to understand myself, hard to paint and draw without any skills or art education, hard to buy good expensive art supplies, hard to understand how does it all works in art world. But if you want something very much there are no borders so here I am now. The best advice I can give to beginners is to practice every day – to redraw, to doodle, to sketch, to find your own personal uniqueness or any psychological fixations and make them work on you . I am still improving my skills and working on my style every day, my style is changing from year to year and it is normal and great, I hope that this process will be endless .

What inspires your work the most?
I am taking the inspiration from absolutely everything so I can say that my inspiration is always with me, it is as normal process for me as breathing for example. Of course there are days of some kind of artistic bocks – I am just taking days off, walking a lot, traveling ( I am missing traveling sooooooo much now ) , reading books etc – and when the block ends I am coming out from it with new ideas.

Tell us about the spaces within you live and work?
My studio is located in my apartments because I am lazy and I don’t think that I’ll be ready to go somewhere else to the studio every day )) It is very comfortable for me to work from home – I am located in Moscow oblast now in a beautiful apartment complex near the forest and lake.

What is your favorite museum or art gallery and why?
There are three of my favorite galleries which I’ve visited : Getty Center in Los Angeles, Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice and Museum der bildenden Künste in Leipzig – incredible places ! So atmospheric , so unique. These galleries gave me so much inspiration, I can spend hours there and visit it as many times as it’s possible ! But if I need to choose one ( it’s hard to do!) I’ll choose Getty Center in Los Angeles – amazing museum with incredible view on my favorite city in the whole world.

Who would you most like to collaborate with and why?
My dream is collaborate with Gucci and YSL brands, my favorite ones. Also I think it would be cool to make a collar with photographers – photography is my second one passion and I think we can create a cool project from zero. Also my dream is to collaborate with a vine brand – I would like to create a vine label one day.

How would you define your personal aesthetics?
As I like to say – I am a professional hedonist.

What is your favorite artwork from your own collection?

It is my «4 am, piercing look at the city from the Hollywood Hills» painting from Essential scars series , 2020 . This series includes four paintings and it is about all that visible and invisible ( physical and mental ) scars we are getting during all our life. «4 am, piercing look at the city from the Hollywood Hills» is the biggest one from this series ( 120 x 100 cm ) and it is quite personal – it’s about a long way to the dream : strawberry and a glass of champagne – my favorite hedonistic symbols – are about happiness and success , red lines inside the abstract body figure are symbolizing scars that were received during this hard way.

Interview with photographer Kira Gyngazova


I r i n a  R u s i n o v i c h

Interview with photographer Kira Gyngazova

Hello Kira! We are happy to welcome you at HAZEGALLERY and would like you to tell us more about you: where you from? How did you approach photography and when did you start?

I am from Russia, Saint-Petersburg. I studied philosophy in the university. I got acquainted with photography when I first went living abroad to France 10 years ago. I bought a film camera on eBay and just started wondering int he cities snapping everything that caught my eye. I didn’t know that time that photography could be something more serious, like a job. I never interested in other photographers and even didn’t develop photos during a year and barely showed them anyone. That is very different feeling that I have nowadays because it was very pure, just for myself.

I started doing photography full-time when I moved to Bangkok, Thailand 3 years ago. This city literally blowed my mind and as I love cinema a lot, I found Bangkok very cinematographic and started to do a lot of street photos. From this point photography became my main passion and occupation.

Do you prefer shooting digitally or on film?
I prefer digital as sometimes I have to react very fast not to loose a perfect moment, a moment in between.

What’s your definition of beauty?
Aesthetic pleasure  that brings joyful emotion.

How would you describe the colour palette of your photographs?
It depends on my mood,  I  like desaturated, dark and low contrast tones as well as bright colours as red and green and blue.

Do you have a favorite photograph or painting, which inspires you?
“The sudden gust of the wind” of Jeff Wall. Every time I see this work something clicks in me.

What visual references do you draw upon in your work?
I collect a lot of paintings on my computer as well as screen shots from the movies. I use them as inspiration.

What are your future goals?
Just want to continue to experiment with subjects and mediums. In the nearest future planning to make a short movie

Instagram Kira @kira.gyn

Interview with artist Nat Apanay


I r i n a  R u s i n o v i c h

Interview with artist Nat Apanay

1. How would you define beauty in 140 characters or less?
The beauty for me is not a sex, classical pattern, length of legs or yachts, material box or cocoon of our matrix world. The beauty is a synergy of the Nature and the Artistic Mind which puts back together the pieces of flowing living energy working to create a whole greater than the sum of its parts.

2. How would you best describe your style?
Biomorphic abstract impresses of fantastic worlds that appear a qualia from there to this place like a vibrating sculptures. Multi-layer artworks move like a hallucination and embody the complex essence of the human personality. Moreover natural materials such as branches, stones, moss, bones, blood and synthetic materials such as silicone, nails, plastic, money, gadgets are built into the voluminous works like the architectural structure of our time of the anthropocene.

3. Has this always been your style?
I have got a Master’s Degree in Architecture, Academic Arts. I’m used to create works and paintings in the academic way. Besides philosophy, cosmology, neurophysiology, biology and theoretical physics have captured almost all of my attention, becoming a passion and this knowledge has led me to abstraction. I’m proponent of scientists (Eric Kandel, Vilayanur Ramachandran, Samir Zeki, Dick Swaab etc) who study the brain as a part of the science discipline – neuroesthetics who already gives us the better understanding that abstract art affects the development of mind’s potential. Therefore recently the abstraction is the main field of my research. Even now I review selfidentification through the abstract principles and openmind optics, that experiences are presented in such related media as sculpture and video.

4. Do you feel that your works are addressing a topic, theme or problem?
There are two main themes that reflected in my artworks: mind’s potential and coexistence organic world of nature and territory of mankind, technological and synthetic.
And the problem is to create a peaceful ecological connection between man and planet, correct implementation of AI and other our ambitions. I’m trying to find the mental-spiritual bridge that could make a strong collaboration of science and art.

5. What is the driving force behind your work?
My parents and sister are hereditary doctors, farther is a surgeon, so I’m used to research everything in a scientific way, to dissect an issue, get inside it and study the very essence. Therefore new studies in neuroscience and biology are driving force behind my art as well as visiting Kunstkammers, watching online surgeries and studying literature on anatomy. Moreover now I’m getting degree in Western philosophy in Moscow State University. And I need to mention that Eastern philosophy and meditation which I practice in Nepal, Japan, Bali and India helped me in crucial times to stay whole and comprehensive unit of living energy.

6. Have certain artists or movements inspired your work?
Francis Bacon, Mikhail Vrubel, Joseph Beuys and Gerhard Richter are one of my favorite artist. Their subtle perception of the world’s settings, as well as their selfless immersion in art, amazes me and arouses deep respect.
Also I do admire the Western philosophy which researches our matrix world and human place and aim of being. Such great thinkers as Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, Gilles Deleuze as well as Fyodor Dostoevsky, Franz Kafka, Nikolai Gogol and Vladimir Nabokov have formed an amazing inner tool for perception of the world and finding wisdom, they are my teachers and main friends.

7. Tell us about the spaces within which you live and work.
Nowadays I live countryside in the green and calm place not far from Moscow. My studio is located near house where I live so in early morning I’m used to walk or ride in a forest, collect specific for me stones, bones, moss or plastic staff, meditate and than work in silence. Often I put works to the car and go any direction, only trust my intuition, and walk with paintings through forests or ruins to full feel the energy of space, the man’s and nature’s territories.

8. Do you have a routine or rituals as you work?
I don’t push myself to create, don’t rush. I always prepare myself by everyday meditation and absorption of the new knowledge and thoughts to start express them in art. Day by day I await the right mental flow, watch extraordinary dreams, I feel that idea needs to ripen and one night I wake up in 5 am and I know I ready.

9. What is your favourite museum or art gallery and why?
Of course Tate Modern in London, Guggenheim Museum in NYC and Centre Pompidou in Paris are my favorite places where I could spend hours, days and immerse deep into my thoughts, dreams, sufferings and joys, where I feel the realization of mankind’s potential.

10. Your best advice to fellow artists?
Don’t be afraid of anything, don’t feel sorry for anything, and don’t be shy about your identity, your inner true identity. And I am sure that we need to learn all our lives constantly.

Instagram Nat Apanay: @natapanay

Interview with Kristina Okan


I r i n a  R u s i n o v i c h

Interview with Kristina Okan

Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and your work
I am a visual artist, originally from Russia but currently live and work in Berlin.

I graduated from Moscow Stroganov Art Academy with major in Ceramic Art. After  studying for 6 years, I felt creatively lost, because Russian artistic high education is very separated from the real situation in the contemporary art world. So, I decided that the best idea would be for me to move abroad and to start the next chapter of life in a new place where I have never been before, thus I moved to Warsaw, and then – Berlin. Now I am a full time artist, exhibiting and working locally and internationally.

What set you off as an artist?
I never saw other options for me in life to be honest. All my life I practice and study art. Nothing excites me more than when I express myself as an artist. I guess, it is my nature. Even though I tried to run my own art space project, to be an art manager in the gallery and to be an art teacher – I always feel that I am out of my element and I waste my time when I do something different from artworks.

Tell us about the themes you pursue in your work
All my works derive from my fantasies about natural and organic beauty. I think that so much visual beauty and power is concentrated in simple, trivial objects such as apples, lemons, etc., that we get used not to notice, though they are always in front of us. Also, digging deeper into the topic of still lifes I was fascinated by how much meaning and symbolism fruits and vegetables carried in the past, in the Renaissance epoch, for example.

In my works, I often look for a balance between abstract forms and real natural objects. As I said before, I am highly attracted by pieces created by nature, and I play around with this existing beauty in my own way, creating my imaginary shapes – little biomorphic monuments. I also like the visual effect of repetitive forms and patterns, that is why all my works are made of repeated elements. For me is very important to leave a room for interpretation of my objects to the viewers, to give a chance to find their own meanings.

Is there something you couldn’t live without in your studio? what is your most essential tool?
My studio is where my table is. It is the basic and the most sacred object for me in my studio. Not sure it can be considered as a tool actually, but it is the most essential element for me for sure.

Tell us how you organize, plan, and prioritize your work
Working with porcelain implies a very high level of discipline and self organization. If there is a tiny bit of rush – everything goes wrong. That is why I always prepare myself mentally in advance for the new series of works and organize my schedule the way that nothing will disturb me and I will devote 100 % of my attention to work. It is like a retreat or meditation.

With watercolor works on paper is almost the same. Since all my graphic works are meticulously detailed, it takes also a lot of concentration. Sometimes, I am so much into work that after hours of drawing, I look at the work and think: oh, wow,  did I really do it myself? Because at some point, I have a feeling that the work guided my hand without my direct participation. I think these works are my favorite ones!

Professionally, what is your goal?
My goal is to reach a broader audience and to get more visibility on international art fairs and competitions. And to have my works in David Zwirner`s collection, of course.

Are there any upcoming exhibitions or projects in the works?
I was working for a quite long time on my solo exhibition  MY SECRET GARDEN, but unfortuntely it was postponed and then finally cancelled due to current situation. Now I am very glad to announce that this show is finally going to happen in Haze Gallery and I am mostly focuced on its preparation. Besides this, I am working on a number of applications for ceramic biennales and art awards.

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Interview with Victoria Rosenman


I r i n a  R u s i n o v i c h

Interview with Victoria Rosenman

1.Victoria, you have an art education and you planned to devote yourself to painting. What was the key moment to choosing photography as your medium?

There were exactly two key moments that led me to photography:
My familiarity with graphics and painting and unfortunately also my subjective or false perception of artistic value. In the first year of study, I felt very privileged when it came to painting techniques, because I was convinced that my years of experience as a child in a Russian painting school full of discipline and all conventions proved my skill and that I was able to do something better than other people. I demonstrated lifelike illustrations on paper or canvas, but they were without content. This demonstration of the inauthentic, technical ability resulted in my first strong artistic block.
At that time my professor recommended that I write down all my suffering and other emotional states, so that as semester papers and at exhibitions I presented all the texts and formulas that came from within. The reaction of the audience was rather neutral, which made me very outraged and sad. Nobody wanted to read subjective pseudophilosophical texts by an art student. So I decided on stronger visualisation so that outsiders can better engage with my thoughts and concepts. So I started to reproduce the content of what was written in the form of photography: texts became images.

Another reason why I chose  photography and why I also continue the project „From the destruction of a muse“ (the upcoming exhibition „Don’t kill me“ is another component of the project) , are interpersonal relationships that inspire and frighten me, which I ultimately “preserve” as an eternal requiem in various forms of representation.
I started documenting an extraordinary relationship. I wanted to capture the personality of a person because this presence and aura in a good sense nourished and moved me. For me, this person was a muse – a source of inspiration. I later found out that certain characteristics and polarities of a human personality are very appealing to me and I want to „hold onto“ more of the psyche of everyone. Photography was able to clarify my visions and a certain stage of my relationships and trigger further, productive thought processes.

2.Your oevre is inspired by classical photography; light, shapes and color. What do you think is the starting point in your work?

I would not say that they are classic photographic representations. I mostly take pictures outdoors in daylight – I use almost no artificial light sources because I love painterly aesthetics and the transition or mixing of photos to and / or painting is very liberating. I don’t want to commit myself to a specific medium, the photos I take are part of the whole. Texts, installations and, of course, the “muses” are part of the whole. Often at my openings people are exhibited in front of their photographic images, which I call my muses. So I offer the viewer to compare the „living“, „breathing“ reality with my perception. Speaking of comparisons: if we come back to the original question: the classic view of my photos is explained or visible to the extent that, of course, I do not like depth of field or photograph everything sharply and light / shadow plays often achieve painterly effects that are reminiscent of old master paintings.

3.Choosing a Muse is the main part of the process for your works. Tell us about how you choose them?

I watch a lot, but I’m not looking for people who should become my muses. People who work with me on the project, despite their openness, radiate a lot of discrepancy and are not afraid to show their vulnerability. To recognise such a character, of course, I also have to spend some time with this person. The revelation of the inner polarities of a muse is the origin and beginning of my artistic work. The photographic illustration or texts are only final results or memorabilia, a valuable process that documents an interpersonal relationship – a devotion between artist and muse, an interplay of power and dependency, guilt and innocence – a mutual challenge. I also write about this in my manifestos, which I have now published in the form of an art book (the book can be purchased at the opening of „don’t kill me“)
Of course, a discrepancy between the outside and inside of a person is always very exciting and a certain appearance often leads us to get to know the personality of the person better. In the end, mutual trust counts and good friendships have developed from many processes.

4.Your manifesto speaks of a certain “seismographic perception of a person”, please explain what exactly this means and how it is displayed in your works.

My “muses” should be able to show themselves to be as vulnerable as possible. Of course, this requires a lot of preparatory work, a process that I call very valuable. In the process, we build trust, open up, deliver each other. You go through different phases together, which are sometimes attractive, sometimes painful. Later, a clear psychogram of a personality emerges – in the case for me: a photographic image of the „current“ muse. This means that a „seismographic“ approach means a meticulous recording or demonstration of the characteristics of a muse.

5.The starting points in your work are eternal human conflicts; power and dependence, destruction and creation. What exactly do you project in your works? Process or decision

The process is supposed to satisfy me in the first place and when it happens, I automatically trigger new thoughts and thus also offer solutions. Whether these solutions can be applied to other individuals is less important to me. It is enough if questions arise. „Mark“ questions people – I like this idea.

6.Describe what beauty means to you in a nutshell.

I think there are many types of beauty and their intensities increase or decrease in different contexts. For this I reveal my first, self-invented formula, which I presented on a DinA4 sheet of paper in my first year of graduation:
Degradation / effect = value.

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1. When did you realise you wanted to become an artist?

As my parents tell me, I started drawing little sketches when I was about 3 years old, but I began painting and illustrating fashion illustrations when I was about 9 years old. I always loved painting and was interested in my grandpa’s and my dad’s artworks, as they are painters as well. I was   ready to analyze the little details of their works by that time. When illustrating I was and still am fascinated from natural silhouettes, poses and famous painters’ work which also became a became as a big inspiration to me.

2. Which artists would you cite as your influences?

There are many painters and many illustrators who’s work has had a big impact and influence on me. My favorite painter is Gustav Klimt while my favorite illustrator is Rene Gruau. When I see Klimt’s painting seems like I’m in another world. His paintings have deep meaning – beautiful tones, dots, shapes, moves and on top of this all, golden color. That means everything to me and to many other people in the world as it is one of the most inspirational artists. Every painting of him fascinates me! His amazing work shaped in many styles such as pointillism has influenced me into exploring other styles such as pointillism. That is the main reason why many of my paintings are done in pointillism style. On the other hand, Rene Gruau,  as an amazing and unforgettable illustrator pushed me into turning my little sketches into real illustrations. I’m in love with his silhouettes and accents in his painting and I think that his painting style had a big effect into many artists’ work today including the motives he has lead to all of the other fashion designers to achieve their dreams.

3. Do you have a specific technique?

I have worked in many techniques and I can’t really specific any of it, because it is usually combined techniques that I use in my artworks. I often use watercolor for illustrating, but acrylic, oil colors or tempera for painting. It doesn’t usually cause any problem in which technique I am working with, it’s always about the motive I have.

4. What artwork/project are you most proud of and why?

I have done many artworks, illustrations, sketches and paintings as you can also follow me on social medias and you can be informed for every piece of it, because I am ready to share with everyone my work at any time. I can’t really specific any of my paintings cause in all of them it’s a little piece of spirit I have given to make it. It takes a while to think and decide which one I would choose. As my painting touch many topics such as feminism, I would like to mention my realism painting “The African Girl”. In this painting I have tried to express all my feelings for feminism and empower women for protecting their rights.

5. Finally, in the time of COViD – 19 what is the main message you want to share? 

I know that everyone has had difficult times and it’s a lot that’s going on lately with covid 19.Many people getting sick, many countries having difficulties in many spheres ,but I think that everyone should be safe in these times, take care of their health and be productive as much as they can.

For all the artists in the world I think it’s time that their motivation needs to be shown in their paintings. Get your papers, colors and canvas and get in to action! Your work may be a big inspiration for other people and may give them motivation  in these times to start something new, to look into new activities, into discovering new talents. Also, try to  read, paint, check out new tutorials, learn something new, do something you didn’t have the time to! Give the message to everyone that creative  work matters, show them your art and the pain for all the pandemic times we are having.