Baroque Anarchist

Russian, b.1986

I see art as a weapon to fight mortality, just like science, and I use art to explore vulnerable life, the body, and scientific efforts to achieve immortality. In this time of social, political and ecological upheaval, I find comfort in the Baroque masters’ materials and layered painting technique, which has endured the test of time.

BIOGRAPHY

Art is my refuge from external conditions and the medium through which I explore my emotions. I have a personal score to settle with Death, which has taken some of my loved ones, including my unborn children. I see art as a weapon to fight mortality, just like science, and I use art to explore vulnerable life, the body, and scientific efforts to achieve immortality. In this time of social, political and ecological upheaval, I find comfort in the Baroque masters’ materials and layered painting technique, which has endured the test of time. Following their strict method for each work, I make a compositional sketch, followed by a drawing, and then I make a grisaille in a brown-white tone. Only then do I apply a layer of colour, if necessary. It is a slow, labour-intensive method, but it achieves that fleshy materiality of Baroque painting allowing me to enlarge biological fragments to make large paintings.

 

This method has also given me an appreciation for the way paint can be layered to mask and expose different elements. Before I start I sometimes write words and feelings on the blank canvas. Then after I have carefully executed all the layers of paint, I might incorporate other media or destroy the perfection of detail with graffiti.

 

For over a decade, I made costumes and sets at a theatre. In that vast, womb-like building, the primary creative tools and materials are ephemeral – space, time and contrast lighting. I bring that theatrical element of immersive, world-making and enchantment to my painting by integrating objects and costumes, and conducting experiments with space, light and performance. Theatrical themes drive my work too and I find that ancient and Biblical mythology resonates strongly with contemporary stories of progress and decay, mortality and renewal. Romeo Castellucci’s theatrical avant-garde has deeply inspired my process, as well as vivid installation art by Katja Novitskova, an organic installation by Anya Gallaccio, and the earth-body performances by Ana Mendieta and painting by Mamma Anderson.

 

We are now learning about the extensive assistance that some of the old masters received from talented and innovative women, like Artemisia Gentileschi. This discovery challenges the myth of individual genius and invites us to appreciate the power of collaboration – something we need now more than ever. Having worked in theatre design for over ten years, I appreciate the joy and power of teamwork. I am honoured to have collaborated with some incredible artists, designers, scientists and performers.

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