Interview: Tatiana An
Luca Curci talks with Tatiana An during VENICE INTERNATIONAL ART FAIR 2021 – 14TH EDITION, at THE ROOM Contemporary Art Space.
“From the age of 5, I knew that I would be an artist. At the age of 9, he took part in an exhibition of young talents. In the same year, the newspaper “Soviet education” published an article about me, written by my school drawing teacher. I have a higher art education, worked as an artist in theater, cinema, etc. For the last 12 years, I have been a freelance artist and I can completely devote myself to self-expression in art. I have participated in several international exhibitions and five times in the Biennale, including the Florentine one. I love life, people, nature, all living things, and I try to express my love in my art. The most important thing for me is to stay in complete harmony with my inner world. And, despite the hackneyed term “harmony”, I am still sure that only love and harmony can give the world something valuable”.
Luca Curci – How did you get to your current artistic practice?
Tatiana An – My grandmother was good at drawing and was going to enter an art institute. It was in 1924 in Kyiv. Then the Soviet government approved only blue-collar occupations. And my great-grandmother’s large family needed money. So my grandmother went to a shoe factory instead of an institute. But, apparently, her creative genes were passed on to me. Already at the age of five, I knew that I would be an artist. I graduated from the Ukrainian Publishing and Printing Institute, Faculty of Graphic Arts, majoring in book illustration. I think this can be seen in my work. In a sense, they are illustrative. And I also studied for several years at the Kyiv Academy of Arts at the art history faculty. Until 1990, I worked as a designer in shops, as a decorator at a theater institute, and as an assistant to a production designer in cinema. With the coming of Gorbachov to power, the borders opened, and in the early 90s, I left to travel and paint portraits on the streets of Krakow, Paris, Barcelona, Budapest. Then I settled for fourteen years in Greece, Halkidiki and Mykonos. For the last twelve years, I’ve been living in the Netherlands. These touches to a foreign culture,
to the authentic places of each country can also be traced in my work.
LC – What are your thoughts while you paint? Do you have any habits or rituals while you work?
TA – There are two large Buddha statues in my studio. Sometimes I talk to them like this: well, buddies, shall we draw? And I also listen to music, classical or jazz. And I try not to think. It is best to draw and sing at the same time. This is ideal.
LC – Did your style change over the years? In which way?
TA – My style has changed many times. In general, I am against the idea that an artist should have one style. The artist doesn’t owe anything. The artist should have only one responsibility, to be free of responsibilities. And if an artist wants to change his style, then there is no point in resisting this desire. Otherwise, he will start to feel sick of himself. And this will immediately be reflected in his creations. As for me, I’ve become less detailed in my drawing. Once upon a time, my paintings were very reminiscent of Art Brut. Wide brushes are now among my tools. Perhaps in the future, I will paint with washcloths and rags. I am open to everything.
LC – Which art themes do you pursue? What is your preferred subject, if there is any?
TA – I went to the Chernobyl zone three years after the accident, and people were still living there. They returned there because no one needed them. Many of them died within five years after that. Only a few have survived to this day. But nature! She seemed to benefit from the accident. If you saw what kind of grass, flowers, trees are where it is mortally dangerous for a person. Animals and birds live there! Nature is good without a person, even where people have left behind a complete abandonment. And now, during a pandemic, when people are forced to stay at home, how quickly nature returns to where it had no place before. Forest animals have come to the streets, long uncut lawns are bursting into bloom with poppies and daffodils. If a person disappears, nature will not mourn him, but will only breathe a sigh of relief. A person needs to understand this, pacify his pride and begin to live in accordance with the laws of Nature. This is the topic that worries me the most. That is why in almost all my recent paintings I paint nature – real, beautiful and eternal.
LC – How do you choose your subjects? Is it a reasoned or an instinctive process?
TA – Most often this is an instinctive process. But I also like to think over ideas. There is such a theory: “If a person did not know about the existence of a dog, he would never see it.” When you are offered a topic from the outside, you change your perspective and begin to see the dog where you have not seen it before. And if you are as curious as I am, your world is inhabited by these cuties.
LC – Do you agree with our vision of art and what do you think about the theme of the exhibition?
TA – I am absolutely sure that each of us is a separate universe with its own planets, oceans, landscapes, wildlife and even a simulacrum of the Internet. If the Universe is infinite, that is, if it is infinitely large, then the small is also infinite. And the interaction between people, between all life on Earth is an endless interaction between universes. Everything is in constant motion and interaction. Therefore, the theme of your exhibition, which analyzes the relationship between body and space, speaks to my heart. And the way you combine different arts in one space is also close to me. If politicians work according to the principle of “Divide and Conquer”, then as an artist, “Unite and give freedom of creation” is closer to me.
LC – In which way the artwork presented in our exhibition is connected with the exhibition’s theme?
TA – The exhibition presents my painting “Illusion”. The idea arose in March 2021 during forced self-isolation. By that time, I had already been ill with Covid. It was during my illness that I thought that a pandemic could wipe out humanity, but the swans in my garden will still nibble the grass, and the apple trees will blossom. And the life of everything will go on but without a man. Man is not the king of nature, and he is far from being the strongest link in a nature chain. Therefore, human interaction with nature should be different. Not aggressive and consuming, but protective, kind-hearted and synergistic. In the picture, I tried to convey this feeling, when it is not clear who is the illusion to whom: Man for nature, or nature for man? Maybe this opposition is not entirely correct. But I think that now humanity has perhaps the last chance to understand exactly where the place of man in the natural hierarchy is, and how he can continue to live with this knowledge.
LC – What do you think about ITSLIQUID Platform?
TA – ITSLIQUID Platform is a great place where an artist can declare his existence to the world, and collectors can get acquainted with new and already gaining strength names in art. Here every artist will be able to take part in a competition and take part in both virtual and group or solo physical exhibitions. Exhibition activities are an important part of an artist’s work. You may be a brilliant artist, but the world will never know about you if you don’t show your art. Therefore, I welcome the efforts of ITSLIQUID Platform in this direction.
LC – What do you think about the organization of our event?
TA – Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to come to Venice for the exhibition because of the lockdown in the Netherlands. Therefore, I cannot judge the organization of the exhibition itself. But the attitude towards the artist, how quickly the organizers react to my letters, how they try to help in solving problems, give a very positive impression.
LC – Would you suggest a collaboration with us? What do you think about our services?
TA – After my participation in the London and Florence Biennials, I began to receive invitations in collaboration with galleries and art platforms. So I have something to compare with. Your platform impresses with its range of services and, most importantly, its attitude towards the artist. I will be glad to offer your ITSLIQUID Platform to my fellow artists. And I would gladly continue our cooperation.