"I BELIEVE THAT THE MAIN PURPOSE OF ART IS KEEPING THIS WORLD IN BALANCE AND HARMONY."
Arina Gordienko grew up in a small remote gold-mining settlement in the most north- easterly part of Russia, in the snowy Arctic Circle region called Chukotka. For the first four years of her life she only witnessed four long Polar nights and four long Polar days, six months each. Endless white fields spreading around down to the horizon, the shyness of crispy white snow was imprinted into her vision for ever.
She lived in the snowy polar desert ‘tundra’ until the age of 4 and then she moved to the one of the most beautiful parts of Russia, the Urals Mountains, a valley full of vibrant colors, where the world resembled a daydream, a new palette that contrasted with the tons of black and white to which she was used to. When she first saw the flowered fields for the very first time, it was an emotional and unforgettable experience for little Arina. This special moment has influenced her whole life – at that moment the Artist inside her was born, she believes.
In her twenties, she finished Art College with Distinction and since then has always worked in fields related to the arts. To mention a few, she worked as a window-designer and she believes that this practice refined her composition skills and sense of proportions in order to accomplish a certain task in a very limited space. Also, she was also running her own fashion house where she used to create and produce from zero her own original clothes - from a drawing to the final produced fashion lines. She believes that working in this field developed her extreme attention to details, diligence and discipline. Wherever she worked, she always dreamed of a time when she could fully dedicate herself to her painting.
After some tragic events in her family and long years of recovery after that, in 2004 at the age of 43, she finally ventured to endeavor her life and follow her dream. She closed her business, prepared her portfolio and applied to study at the famous Central Saint Martins College of Arts in London. She was accepted and in 2005 she moved to London where her totally new life began.
In 2008, Arina has successfully completed her MA in Fine Arts and one of her paintings from the Final Degree show was bought by a legendary artist Gustav Metzger. In the same year, she received her first ever Art Critic Award that was presented to her at the Mall Galleries in London by Lady Gabriela Windsor, Daughter of Her Royal Highness Princess Michael of Kent during the Society of Women Artists exhibition. In the same year, she received her first International Award as the 1st Mayor Prize Winner in Portrait/Figure students’ category of ‘The Artist’s Magazine’ Competition in USA. Since then, Arina was recognized with numerous international and national prizes and awards but she believes that the first ones still are the most memorable and precious.
Arina has exhibited her paintings at world class venues such as, Saatchi Gallery in London and magnificent MEAM -European Museum of Modern Art in Barcelona. She exhibited at the Museum of Fantastic Art in Vienna, Museum of Modern Art Vittoria Colonna in Pescara in Italy and Wausau Museum of Contemporary Art in USA and many other galleries in the UK, USA, Australia, Spain, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, France, Germany, Check Republic, Belgium and India. Her paintings have been published in many art books, catalogues and art magazines, including highly respectable and influential ‘Strokes of Genius’ Art Books (Edition 4 and 6) in the USA, the ‘Art and Freedom’ annual art book by Artelibre Gallery in Spain, and Reinhard Fuchs’ art book ‘Masterpieces of Visual Arts - The Great Female Artists from the Middle Ages to the Modern Era’ in Austria. In 2016, Arina was awarded with a status of Associate Living Master of the Art Renewal Center in the United States, one of the most respectable and influential art organizations in the world. Since 2010, Arina is a selected member of the Society of Women Artists in the UK and also a member of Portrait Society of America.
At first glance, you are able to capture in Arina’s works of art a simplicity that speaks for itself. An enchanted world where few coincide with the realities being lived and experienced. It’s a juxtaposition of moments in a world where what is needed often goes unnoticed and unacknowledged. Her works of art bring you back to that state of mind where you are ready to absorb it all. With delicacy, curiosity and determination -her art tells you a story you can relate to.
Q. Do you remember the first art you made? What was it and how old were you? How and when did you first become seriously interested in art?
A. As far back as I can remember, I used to paint and draw on every spare surface I could find, on walls, furniture, on the school lesson books pages, on music sheets, anywhere. My Mum never stopped me from doing so. She saved some of my watercolors dated as 5 years old, one of them shows a little black wolf on a very green grass, and on another is a little red fox, a very orange one. I can’t tell when I realized that I am interested in arts, because I feel that it’s always been a part of me, I grew up with it inside me. For a long time, I was in love with painting on silk and my first subjects were flowers. I guess it was influenced by experience from my childhood when at 4 years old I saw flowers for the first time in my life.
Q. What have you had to sacrifice for this career?
A. It is a very interesting question really …What I have sacrificed for the opportunity to do what I love most in my life? Can it be called a sacrifice? Well, I can definitely tell that if you decide to be an artist it will take all your life. Creating art takes all your time and it is hard work. Sometimes I think what my life would be like if I was not an artist now. I don’t know. What I do know is that art saved my life, no less. And art was that light in the end of a very dark tunnel that I rushed towards 15 years ago. Even thinking about a potential living without my painting is a pain. Painting and a possibility to create on a daily basis is bliss and a precious gift. I don’t know how I would exist without my painting. Art is my life. It is my air to breathe.
Q. Tell us about your particular style and how you came to it?
A. My style can be described as figurative imaginative realism with elements of surrealism, and often as hyper-realism. Creating a new painting for me is a kind of a magical ritual, almost alchemy - I love to insert into my works a mysterious and surreal atmosphere, something not direct but rather ephemeral and uncertain. I love to put my personages in a middle of nowhere without any signs of particular place, time/age or any other specific characteristics. I am trying to capture and visually express a quintessence of humans’ emotions and feelings, often on a border of their capacity of perception - a pure essence of human’s soul and often hidden deep inner content. In my work, I use the old Masters of Renaissance technique called ‘sfumato’, derived from the Italian word ‘sfumare’ – tone down or smoke down. Within this oil-painting technique the colors and tones layer gradually one above another without any sharp or harsh outlines which brings to the images a rather softened outcome. My works are painted in a rather subtle manner without perceptible sharp lines or edges. This technique helps to bring some kind of fragility and soft light to the images, it complements the mood in my paintings.
Q. Who are your biggest influences? Are you inspired by the work of your peers or anyone else in particular?
A. I guess that the Russian school of drawing and painting has a huge influence on me, as well as Russian music and literature. I love looking at the old Masters portraits where emotions and feelings are captured and trapped in time. This truly fascinates me – are these emotions and feelings still the same through the centuries? Have humans’ feelings changed at all? Am I able, the artist from the 21st century, still feel what these people in the past have been through?
The most fascinating, mysterious and inspiring subject for me is the Universe we are living in. This world seems to be so fragile; it consists of questions and mirages. Finding the answers is inspiring and challenging. I accumulate both – questions and answers - in my works. I addictively observe the reflection of emotions and feelings on people’s faces and I find inspiration in people’s eyes where you can see their soul if you are lucky. I attentively watch if there is light or darkness in those eyes, and I always hope to meet the light. The whole unique world and personal universe is on the face of a stranger. This is what always fascinates and inspires me. I guess that all my creativity is just a sublimation of my inner self into art works. The noun sublimation is from the Latin word sublimare, meaning ‘to raise a higher status’ and it seems like I am just trying to transform/sublimate all my life experience, all my contradictive and even self-destructive inner impulses into something beautiful and sublime like art works and become a higher self - creative and free.
Q. What does your art aim to say?
A. I appreciate quietness and peaceful harmony in everything and probably, in my works I am trying to create my own, peaceful and quiet reality. Through my works I hope to bring some positive energy to the world. Life is so fragile. I see humans’ souls as fragile lights of fireflies in the dark - it is so easy to break this light. I’m trying to convey this light into my paintings to keep this precious light in the world. I believe that the main purpose of art is keeping this world in balance and harmony.
Q. Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
A. I think that loneliness at some point of your life can be perceived as a luxury. In my life I had so many changes, movements, jobs, activities, studies, noises etc, etc. that often I feel blessed when I am in my own at my studio with my canvas in front of me. I love starting a new work; it is an amazing feeling - standing in front of a blank canvas, looking at it, touching it and knowing that in time there will be a new creation. We are also blessed with the Internet nowadays, so I do not feel lonely, there are so many talented and extremely inspiring people in the world, we all can communicate now without any borders and even meet in person if we arrange it.
Q. Apart from art, what do you love doing?
A. I enjoy reading books in general and old books in particular. I think that words are just encrypted images, encoded with letters, which are just written signs. I love poetry and music and in my belief poetry, music and art germinate from one source, they have the same roots. I suppose it is all about the expression of emotions and feelings. I was fortunate enough to study for seven years (since I was 8 years old) at a Music School and then for two years at a Music College as a chorus conductor, and still perceive everything in the world through a musical harmony, whether this is harmony of singing voices, musical compositions, words or colors. I am trying to conduct these harmonies into my paintings. Music is another huge passion of my life, from classical to rock. I love playing the piano when I have time for it. In my twenties, I was very much into rock music and used to sing and play keyboards and piano in various rock-bands; I also wrote my own music, lyrics and songs, which were released on a CD. I love travelling (wish I have more time for it!) and exploring new things, I love all kind of mysteries and I have my own thoughts and point of view on esoteric and other theories.
Q. What is your philosophy in matters of art?
A. Creative process generates a very strong energy and vibrations that flow through your body and mind. The more you get involved in the creative process the stronger the creative energy around is. I mean that creative energy and its creator generate each other equally - it is a mutual process. Nothing disappears from this world on an energetically level. Even our thoughts are material - imagine how powerful and material the images we artists produce are. This kind of immense power can be found in religious art; in fact, any images and objects created with passion spread that kind of powerful energy, which has an ability to alter one’s mental state; and by this - transform reality. The same way as strong feelings and emotions can affect one’s way of thinking; therefore, to change one’s reality perception. And, as a consequence, this reality is changing. We are all connected, whether we are aware of it or not. And through this connection our reality is constantly changing, we can transform this reality into anything we want to. It is not only an honor and a privilege to be an artist, but also a huge responsibility. Art is a powerful tool; and all the artists have a choice - what to contribute to the art world in particular and to the world/reality in general. We all create this world around us, and I believe that the more beautiful and positive artworks are created today, the better our world will be to live in tomorrow.
Q. What does 'success' mean to you?
A. Success is the freedom to create what you actually want to create. Success is the feeling that your paintings are loved by many people. Success for an artist means that the artist can make a living from her/his art.
Q. What's the best piece of advice you've been given, and by who?
A. The best advice was given to me by my husband. He said, ‘Write down any good advices before you forget them!’
Q. What advice would you give to the next generation?
A. If you want to be an artist, never expect that inspiration will come to you on a daily basis. Just go to your studio and get yourself ready for hard work, and then, in hours, inspiration can come along. But it is not guaranteed. Only hours of hard work and practice will help you to create something spectacular. Think of what you are bringing to the world within your creativity. Once you become an artist you are responsible for every brushstroke you bring to the world. The more beautiful and positive art works are created today, the better our world will be to live in tomorrow. Art is the most powerful tool to keep this world in balance and harmony.