Interview: Eleonora Taranova
Luca Curci talks with Eleonora Taranova during CONTEMPORARY VENICE 2021 – 8TH EDITION, at THE ROOM Contemporary Art Space.
Eleonora Taranova is a self-taught painter, born in 1971 in a small town in Ukraine. As a child, she lived in a house with lots of animals and observed their behavior. She taught herself to portray emotions and movements of pets and people since there was no local art school. After working as a teacher at a university for over 20 years, she quit her job because of health reasons and took up painting as a hobby. She now works as a full-time artist. For the last 10 years, Eleonora has focused her work on emotions. Through traditional figurative oil painting, the artist is looking for similarities and differences in the emotional states of humans and animals. Eleonora researches emotions with the aim of opposing and finding common ground between human and animal psychology. In her works, the artist strives to connect the expressiveness of the depiction of physical forms and plasticity of movement with psychological internal states. Inspired by the simplicity and colorings of rock carvings’ coloristic and the sensuality of the works of Rembrandt, Francis Bacon, Mikhail Vrubel, Franz Mark, Eleonora tries to bring the ideas of empathy and respect to living beings and express the relationship between them and the surrounding world.
Luca Curci – What is art for you?
Eleonora Taranova – Maximilian Voloshin once said that artists are the eyes of humanity. My aim in art is precisely to be the eyes of humanity. What the artist depicts should evoke a vivid emotion in the viewer and give food for thought, make him cry or laugh, resent or agree. Every image we give life to is present in everyday life, but generally, people do not pay attention to what is around them. The artist’s goal is to draw their attention with an invisible thread – to drag in a person and stress what we would like to depict.
LC – What are you currently working on?
ET – I’ve been researching the subject of emotion for the past couple of years. In general, emotional states have always interested me. But only now did I take this issue seriously. I have studied many writings on this topic and made a plan. Now I make sketches before starting work. I did not do that before. I have two projects in mind and I hope to spring them into life soon.
LC – What is your creative process like?
ET – The night before, I always think about what I will be working on tomorrow. I love to work in the morning. I love daylight. I love solitude and silence. I paint no more than 4-5 hours a day. I try to turn off all gadgets so that nothing distracts me. I meditate as I squeeze paints onto the palette. It’s such a magical process that sometimes I feel like I’m holding my breath. As if I’m trying not to
frighten off this moment of mystery.
LC – Are your artworks focused on a specific theme?
ET – Now I focus on two topics. They are animals and figures. Both depict the emotional states of animals and humans that are transmitted by kinesics.
LC – How is being an artist nowadays?
ET – It’s not easy to be a physical artist now. Many offline galleries have been closed due to the pandemic. And in spite of online resources and growing online sales, it seems to me that physical art is failing. Especially oil painting. No screen can show all the diversity of hues of the paints. Not to mention the size of the canvases. If the painting is more than a meter in width and height, it simply does not look right on the small screen of a phone. Therefore, it is very important to have offline exhibitions at every possible chance.
LC – In which way the artwork presented in our exhibition is connected with the exhibition’s theme? Can you explain something about the artworks you have in our exhibition?
ET – Both paintings presented are very special to me. Back in 2016, I conceived this series, and only this year did I paint all of the twelve paintings that I had planned. The exhibition features two of them. The painting “eMotion. Pain” depicts a girl with muscles stretched like strings. She is trying to escape from the state of pain. She has nothing to lean on, nothing to grab onto. Her legs sprawl and she nearly falls exhausted. This painting is about how physical and moral pain can run us down, destroy us. I experimented while painting it. In the bottom layer, I used sawdust and glue. This helped me to create an unusual texture. The surface gave the effect of a mural on the canvas. Therefore, the image is a little ghostly. I intended to say that the pain ends eventually. Sooner or later. The second work “eMotions. Loneliness” is extremely relevant now in our crazy time. The painting hides several meanings here. I would like to show that no matter how many people we are surrounded by, at the same time we are lonely. A naked girl in a fetal position seems to be eager to return to her mother’s bosom so that it could protect her. She tries to become hidden from her problems and stress. The land here is cracked from drought and is a symbol of desolation. The girl is alone in her problems and no one will help her to solve them. The second layer of meaning is concerned with world problems. The earth is now more than ever in distress due to inefficient use of natural resources and environmental pollution. And here I tried to indicate the moment when the last person will remain on the scorched earth. It’s very scary and I hope it won’t come true. In this, “Loneliness” is related to the theme of the exhibition. I emphasize the importance of maintaining the ecological balance on the planet for the continued existence of man. I want people not to go on talking about environmental issues but to start acting. Otherwise, the image that I created is just around the corner.
LC – What do you think about the organization of our event?
ET – Thank you for the invitation and I really appreciate being able to participate in the exhibition. This is a rare opportunity to show works to a large number of people. A significant point for me was the fact that the event takes place in Venice, in a city with more than a thousand years of cultural history.
LC – Do you think ITSLIQUID GROUP can represent an opportunity for artists?
ET – I think that any artist should be involved in such projects. Here we are talking not only about the presentation of their works but also about the creation of a community of contemporary artists. Itsliquid unites different directions in art and provides opportunities for both experienced and novice artists.
LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
ET – I was amazed at the organization and scope of the project. The project managers were in touch with me all the time, answering all my stupid questions, since this.