Tanya Shatseva‘s work grabbed me by the heart from the first time I saw one of her paintings, ‘Blue Valentine’ (yes, I eventually ended up buying a print – no regrets!). There was something in the way she maneuvered the brush strokes; I couldn’t stop staring, drinking in her character’s intricately textured hat on top of thick, flowing hair as this magically witchy creature, incomplete, melted partially into the background. I was entranced. On discovering more of her paintings it was clear Tanya’s finesse with acrylic was not a one off. Across her portfolio, her use of colour flows freely celebrating a love for life and welcoming you wholly into her world. Bold and vibrant, this Russian artist captures moments within her character’s lives as if peeking through a looking glass, leaving you wanting to experience more. I got in touch with Tanya to find out more about her and get a better insight into this sprightly and eclectic artist. Enjoy:
Hi Tanya! Can you give us a brief history of your background?
My story is very illogical. I was obsessed with art and painting particularly since I can remember but never took it seriously, never studied or anything besides doodling all the time everywhere. Instead I spent my life on some strange and surprising adventures (looking back now!) until I turned 21, when I realized that art is the greatest love of my life, and the only bridge to some unattainable truth or sense that I was seeking. At first, I thought that so much time was wasted for nothing. Now I see that all my journeys were necessary and led me here. My way is just different – it doesn’t include any art schools or artistic ancestry, but does include a lot of curiosity and life lessons, sometimes very esoteric ones.
It sounds like your life is very interesting…can you share a little more? What is life like behind the scenes for Tanya Shatseva?
I imagine a never-ending series of scenes one behind another. Life is very interesting and abundant, and I have everything I want: the greatest passion, my dream career, my love (who is my ideal man!), endless opportunities opening every day, people saying they love my art, all the cats in the neighborhood being my friends, I can eat as much as I want and whatever I want without getting fat!
But I think the main good side of life is that there is magic in it – I would say there is nothing but pure magic! And the most awesome thing that can ever happen to a person is feeling that magic, the connection to something beyond the human understanding of what it is to ‘live’, and changing and reflecting. I love to play with my mind trying to make unbelievable things “real”. For instance, when I had “Buddhistic period” in my life I went to a Temple in South Korea for free and they were waiting for me…The rest of the time, I do not do anything extraordinary, mostly I’m working and working, doing human things, making myself walk more, being an observer to my own awkward dreams…
There is an inherent boldness in your creations. What is the drive for you to paint?
I would say there is only one thing that can ever stop me from painting…
Dare I ask; what would this be?
I meant to say death but now that I think about it, what if I would still dream that I have my life with painting in it after my physical life ends? I can’t even be sure that death would be much different than my life now. Maybe I may find myself in a place, in a world, where there is no such thing as painting but it sounds so sad that I’d better just stop thinking about it and keep painting.
How would you personally describe the style of art you create?
Personally, I wouldn’t do that. There would be no reason to paint it if I could just explain it in words…if I had to, my art could probably relate to surrealism but it’s just another word as any of classifications are.
Where do you gain inspiration from?
I’ve no idea what my inspiration is…but for sure, whatever it could be – it loves action, it is hunting people who won’t let the ideas just die inside. I see it like symbiosis. Therefore, it turns out that I “gain” inspiration from inspiration.
Between your more realistic (if not sometimes surreal!) art and your more abstract pieces, which do you prefer creating?
The first is like living life and second is like meditation. There only appears to be a striking difference between these things yet they are linked, and I need and enjoy both of them. Same thing with the boundary between the real and the surreal for me – it is misty.
Do you have any interests/hobbies outside of painting?
Sure! I love books, which give me euphoria of “true knowledge”. Dancing – I even worked as a dancer twice, in Turkey and America. I love cooking my own recipes. I love animals – I can’t just pass by without getting acquainted with every cat that I meet on the street. I love to cry also – it is like a connection with some power-lake. I’m attracted to people who behave like main characters but are living and true – they cause a strong desire in me to paint them. Colors. Notebooks. Yoga. Travelling of course. I love things that can make me a bigger person.
So, what is your process from beginning to end when creating a new piece?
There are several scenarios in my creating process. The shortest one is when I am attacked with the certain image: 1) getting the idea (I’m not aware of a process before that.); 2) making/searching for the needed references; 3) sketching; 4) painting in semi-trance, discovering things while in the process. The more interesting scenario is when I have only part of the whole image – in that case, I begin with a brain explosion looking over the options and then suddenly let them all go. After a while everything is clear, it always works…to a certain degree!
What do you hope or aim for your audience to absorb from your paintings?
This reminds me of literature classes when I was at school and discussing what exactly the author wanted to bring home to the reader with this metaphor or that allegory and I doubted: “did he really think about such things?” – I’m sure he didn’t. Art is truly universal and a very powerful language, but I think it interacts with some internal strings, and that not all processes can be understood with one common human interpretation. However, if the person feels the reflection, sees some personal meaning or inspiration in my artwork – that is the best gift for me.
Personal creations vs commissions: what are your thoughts?
Not so long ago I realized that I got trapped by commissions and my personal works were waiting in a super long line. It always amazes me how hard it is to get out of a comfort zone even though it turns out to be such an easy step. So then I isolated myself for a while and let some of my personal artworks appear one by one and that was one of the best choices of 2014 if not my whole art life! Now I still accept some interesting commissions but they are in the background.
I entirely agree: personal creativity has to stay as a central energy. Do you have a favourite piece that you have created this year?
I am usually not in love with my own artworks. Nevertheless, some of them mean a lot to me: ‘Perception’ is the most important piece of 2014 I think. It marks the new era of my personal art. It carries the idea of a kaleidoscopic world, which consists of a million little pieces connected and making a beautiful and always different pattern. At the same time it conveys the idea of multiple egos, something that I was so obsessed with after reading V. Pelevin’s books (it supposes that a person doesn’t really have any ego – just many of them replacing one another). And ‘Bunny’, my muse for this piece, is “main character” type of person for sure.
Another fascinating side to your work is the fact that you create videos giving insights into your processes. How did you come up with this idea and why do you do it?
I always loved videography and animation. I used to create short silly movies with my photo camera at school and even paint some weird cartoons in Painter. Video in general has a huge obvious power to inspirit, to convey energy and feelings, to connect you with people…to make you fall in love with the song! Also by happy coincidence my love is Lord of the Camera – all the beautiful moments in my videos are his merit. So, I enjoy making my painting movies very much. The first one was made just for fun but then I discovered another cool side – that it is also a great opportunity to look at your own work from aside, which really helps you to improve.
Have you ever thought of developing this idea of connecting with people further? A live, real-time painting performance perhaps?
I thought about real-time painting performance (not video but in real life…it scares me and makes me anxious but I love challenges). However, recently I’m more into tattooing people’s thoughts…
Lastly, do you have any upcoming exhibitions?
I guess that’s my next step.
Over the Love
The Queen of Spades