01 Jun Anna Valieva: “Art is an unsolvable mystery”

We spoke to a talented Kyiv based artist Anna Valieva about her latest exhibition at the Mystetska Zbirka gallery, marriage and traps that are set for us by our own parents and life.

On what is hidden behind the curtains

My new exhibition is a painting project about human body and soul. Its title is “The Scene and Behind the Scenes”. I believe that we have the world inside and outside ourselves. And the soul should live in harmony with both of them. In this case even a person’s exterior will be beautiful and balanced. When I was a child I went to the Serge Lifar Ballet Competition. I still remember very well those handsome men with strong legs jumping on the stage in the limelight… They looked beautiful, but transient. And only when I found myself behind the curtains I realized that what was happening there was very different. It was the world of dark, muted colors; there was a ballerina somewhere in the middle of it, stretching in a plaid before her performance, completing her sacral ritual. And the maroon curtain divided these two worlds. It’s the same with people. Deep inside we are very quiet; when we go to bed we think about tomorrow, knowing the day will be rough; we come up with ideas. The whole thing – the blanket, our state of mind, the atmosphere – it’s a red velvet drape. So I wanted to create a room with artworks made of this material. I thought they would give people an emotional impulse, but just the opposite is happening: as if you retire into your shell, feel the silence. Red is exciting only when it’s surrounded by other colors, but when it’s the only color around, it provides you with inner silence. And it’s a very important feeling. It lets you create, and where’s movement, there’s chaos. Though it’s not even yin and yang. It’s like two cells become one and turn into something new. And cells divide harmoniously. If anything goes wrong, the organism – especially the one that has just been conceived – will immediately die.

On pleasure and silence

Having found yourself and silence, you get a happy and harmonious family – everything matters. The idea of a new exhibition occurred spontaneously, it has no relation to any situation in my life. For me carrying a concept around in my mind for many years is exhausting, since it deprives you from many joyful moments. If what you do makes you happy, just do it, don’t think it over too long, or it will be no fun.

On becoming purer

My father visits me at my studio; he has already seen my latest works. Sometimes he makes remarks: “That’s enough, Anna. This is just fine”. That’s confusing to me, because when somebody praises you, you are afraid of moving forward. In my opinion, such praise is a trap, set for us by our own parents; it’s a behavior pattern. We often bring our children up not to trouble us. Though every child needs constant approval from the family. That is why when your parents highly appreciate what you do even as an adult, you feel really excited. So it’s very important to adequately respond to this approval when you’re a grown-up. In this case you diversify your reactions to one or another situation – criticism, praise etc. When you don’t use your usual schemes and reactions, or imitation, you become purer.

On team working with gallery owners

I always wanted to have my own team, as it’s crucial to be supported. It’s very cool if you have somebody to rely on, to show your work, to promote it. I believe that commitment, for example, to a gallery, gives you freedom. If somebody is responsible for phone calls, organization of the exhibition, and planning the opening, as an artist, I am released from all these duties. It makes me free. No one tells me to implement someone else’s ideas. I present an already completed project, and the gallery displays it. At the Mystetska Zbirka gallery they let me do what I want. Even when I turned to them for advice, Julia Voloshyna opened her eyes wide and said: “You are an artist, you shouldn’t ask me for advice!” That’s why, when I work with this gallery, I really feel free. I am grateful to Maksym and Julia Voloshyn for their love and support of art, and to Zhenia Smirnova for the interview.

On the flow of art

Art is an unsolvable mystery. Anselm Kiefer, Gerhard Richter – it’s obvious that they can’t think over what colors to use and where, they are in some kind of religious flow of life that is impossible to get into and affect. Such a flow is very hard to find, and no one can do it for you. Art is like a bike: you know how to ride it, but if you don’t do it, you become afraid and may give it up at all. No one can help you choose the right colors – of course, if you’re not doing commercial art. I look for something vivid, to feel how the artist enjoys both his work and the state of mind. And I want to get into this flow too.

Displaying my artworks has never been a problem to me. I’ve always been working enthusiastically, so I guess that people just liked it. The first person that bought my work in contemporary art was Anatolii Dymchuk. I know everybody very well and I am on good terms with people from art community. Frankly speaking, there’s no art market in Ukraine. The ephemerality of it has been washed away by the crisis. Though people still dream of purchasing pieces of talented artists. Such artworks should be “swallowed up”; they should make you happy. And they should be put into special houses and unique interiors. Art is a need that arises of itself, sometimes even regardless of financial situation and social rank.

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