"IN MY OPINION, A COMBINATION OF SEVERAL, EVEN EVERY BEAUTIFUL COLORS, DOES NOT YET CREATE A WORK OF ART."
Irena Aizen was born in the USSR. Since her childhood, she was surrounded by a creative atmosphere representing the third generation of artists in her family. Her grandmother, aunt, and father -an architect, devoted their lives to art. Not surprisingly, Irena's life path was naturally defined, and at the age of ten she began her professional training at an art academy and then continued it at the college founded by her grandfather. In Russia, Irena worked as an illustrator at a book publishing house. In 1990, Irena and her family moved to Israel where she continued to develop her artistic career, exhibiting her works in galleries, as well as participating in exhibitions in Israel and abroad. In addition, Irena has been teaching art for many years.
One of her favorite artists is Hans Memling. It could be said that her paintings combine realism, elements of naive art, mysticism, and symbolism, which are inherent in the artists of the early Renaissance. One of the first bright moments in Irena’s career was Olga Morozov’s (senior assistant A.S.Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow) article which was devoted to Irena’s works. She has received prestigious offers to provide her works in the collections of museums such as The Museum of Russian Art (Jersey City, USA), The Native Art Museum of Latvia (Riga, Latvia) and The Tula Museum of Fine Art (Tula, Russia) – the town where Irena was born.
“A work of art is unique because it is inimitable. The law of gravity, if it had not been discovered by Newton,
would sooner or later be discovered by another scientist. A painting, a sculpture, a piece of music or a work of literature, if it had not been created by the author, would not have ever been created by anyone else!”
Irena’s works of art are simply enchanting. Is as if you’ve stepped inside some magical world and can’t (or want to) get out. It's almost like going back to childhood, but without taboos, without doubts, without limits or forgiveness. Irena's art captures our senses, giving free rein to a present without expectations of tomorrow, much less memories of yesterday. It is simply focusing on what is happening now. It is feeling the present and living this exact moment. And that's when you realize that regardless of who you are, the world is going to keep spinning – not any faster, not any slower. And this just incites you to be.
Q. What role does the artist have in society?
A. The role of the artist in society is directly connected with his work, and, in my opinion, can carry both huge positive and huge negative potential. It is not for nothing that religious figures have long tried to attract the most venerable figures in all fields of art, sponsoring their creative works. Because they were well aware of the great power of the influence of painting, music, architecture on people's minds and hearts. In this world, everything is interconnected, so the indirect impact of art on public life is undeniable. But what the impact is... I'm afraid it's not always positive.
Q. What’s your best childhood memory?
A. One of my best childhood memories is my walks with my father and our talks about life and art. We often went for walks in the town park which resembled an island of woods in the center of the town, or in Yasnaya Polyana the former estate of Leo Tolstoy, a great Russian writer. The situation in the country in that period was rather oppressive, every dissent, every disagreement with the socio-political system of the USSR was suppressed. There took place dispersals of exhibitions of informal artists and our walks, in addition to enjoying the wonderful nature had an educational character for me both in the field of art and in the realization of what was happening in the country and forming my own point of view on life. That is absolutely necessary, I think, for each creative person who wants to tell something to the public.
Q. As a child, what did you wish to become when you grew up?
A. I remember that after my first visit to the circus I dreamed of becoming a tiger tamer. Nowadays, I would release all the animals held in captivity in circuses and zoos.
Q. Do you remember the first piece of art you have made? What was it and how old were you?
A. What I realized for the first time as a work of art, was a portrait of my first school teacher. Fortunately, this work did not get into the eyes of my teacher, but my family laughed their hearts out.
Q. How and when did you first become seriously interested in art?
A. For as long as I can remember. Several generations of my family dedicated themselves to art; therefore, all the atmosphere in the house encouraged my creative development from very early childhood.
Q. Tell us about your own unique style and how you came to it.
A. The definition of a concrete style in art can’t be unambiguous. Each successive generation of artists is based on the achievements of the previous. Often combining different stylistics tendencies or borrowing definite features of one or another style for achieving a concrete aim. Certainly, in history, there were attempts of denying previous achievements, but such efforts led to “black square.” I think it’s important for each artist synthesizing elements of different styles to create his or her own language in art. It makes him or her recognizable and not similar to others. It’s a complicated task which can be achieved by the method of trial and error and honesty to yourself.
Q. How do you visualize the textures of your work?
A. In recent years, I have started to work in acryl. In doing so, I use the technic of multi-layer painting, more characteristic of oil painting. This technic requires much more time for creating a painting, but allows you to achieve the effect of the depth of the image. An important role in the perception of the picture is played by the black-and-white solution. In my paintings, I try to convey the state of dusk before sunset. For me, this is the most mysterious and favorite time of day.
Q. What does your art aim to express?
A. For me, it is a language in which I can most accurately convey my attitude. Among the favorite topics - the psychology of human relations, the display of childishly naive perception of the world, which persists, as I think, in each of us for the rest of our lives. For me, as an artist working in a realistic manner, the image of a person is connected with the specification of his gender, age, time and place of action of the character of the picture. This conventionality prevented my desire to focus the viewer's attention on the depiction of the psychological states of a person with the help of symbolic signs and objects working on a subconscious level.
The contradiction between the urge to realism on one hand, and the transmission of generalized psychological traits inherent in man throughout the history of his development, on the other hand, led me to search for a character to circumvent the limitations, associated with realism without breaking up with it at the same time. Ancient Egyptian images of a half-human - semi-animal sparked a thought of looking for the image I needed in this direction. In my search for the place of animals in world culture, I found that the hare is a character who appears in many fairy tales and myths of the peoples of the world, from America to the Far East and from Africa to Europe. Myths connect the hare with the moon, sky, and sun, its image can be found on ancient ceramics, coins, hieroglyphics, as well as in national epics.
I was particularly attracted to the fact that in these fairy tales and myths the hare combines masculine and feminine and reflects all the pros and cons of human nature. I would call my paintings philosophical fairy tales for adults and I use animal images to talk about people. And of course, about the relationship between a man and a woman. After all, we are all a bit animals...
Q. What personality trait has gotten you in the most trouble?
A. Excessive trust in people.
Q. What have you had to sacrifice for this career?
A. I haven’t had to sacrifice much. On the contrary, I consider myself very much fortunate.
Q. Who are your biggest influences? Are you inspired by the work of your peers or anyone else in particular?
A. I’m sincerely glad to see something worthy among the works of my peers. But I can’t say it’s what inspires me. Yet, the works of old masters are the source of my inspiration.
Q. Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
A. The process of creating a picture, naturally demands loneliness. However, life is filled with other activities, interests, and people. So, I don't feel lonely.
Q. Apart from art, what do you love doing?
A. I have many interests besides painting: classical music, books, and sports.
Q. What is your philosophy in matters of art?
A. To tear a person away from the banal routine, to make people think about the issues of being through sensory perception. To give them the opportunity to experience feelings they might never have met in their lives. To try to help others reach beauty, light, and hope for the best in our difficult world. Most of all, I am repelled by works that cause feelings of horror, catastrophe, violence, regardless of the style and technique of their performance. It seems to me that nowadays, art, including fine art, migrates from the spiritual area to the commercial area. The value of a modern work of art is largely determined by the laws of the art business, and the laws of business lie in a completely different plane than the laws of art do.
Q. What does ''success'' mean to you?
A. Success for me is expressed in the way people accept my work. Fortunately, I get a lot of warm feedback about my paintings at exhibitions and on the internet. This is naturally related to material success.
Q. What are the biggest things you've learned in life thus far?
A. To study all the time, not to fall under someone else's influence, to go my own way, without being embarrassed by failures.
Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given, and by who?
A. The best piece of advice I've got from a person close to me is never following anybody’s advice. I hope my advice would be considered so critically as well.
Q. What advice would you give to the next generation?
A. Try to feel like participants in the continuous movement of humanity to self-knowledge. Do not drop the baton of the past, and try to pass it on to the next generations.