Statement

I was born in Siberia. While my father was still a child, he and his family were deported from Belorus. Siberia was hardly a welcoming land either for him or the many others exiled or resettled there. Those like my father, however, had little choice in life but to accept their situation. After graduating from a vocational school, he had to go to work at a uranium enrichment facility. As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to draw and paint, which I did with any available materials, although my father strongly disapproved. He felt a career as an artist would be highly unrewarding, and, in fact, entirely useless, particularly in Siberia. I respected my father, but could not renounce art, and I decided that I would nevertheless study painting. In the end I enrolled in an art school and then continued my training at university. I painted a great deal, and, although I did not paint as I had been taught, both my friends and teachers liked my work. My pictures were frequently accepted for exhibition, and I became an active participant in the underground artists movement. Nevertheless, I was not prepared to make a career of art, perhaps because my father had indeed talked me out of it when I was a child. Then my paintings were seen in Novosibirsk by representatives of the Soros Foundation. They convinced me that my work was of real value and that I had to put together some serious exhibitions. It was the Soros Foundation, in fact, which organized my first one-woman show. The show dismayed my father. It drew many visitors, and many people congratulated my father, but he could never really understand what there was to congratulate him on, just as he had never really understood why I painted at all. Within a year after the exhibition, my father died of radiation sickness, and I never had a chance to explain to him as I would have liked.

There is very much that I need to communicate to others, and painting is the language in which I can express myself. I paint my children, my grandmothers, and my great grandmothers in their childhood and youth. I paint those around me. I paint lonely women from big cities lost in thoughts about life, and Mongolian brides from the steppes waiting for their grooms. I wish to capture the moment when people find themselves alone, since this is precisely when they can think and understand much about themselves and about communication with others. I want to express these thoughts about the thirst for communication and the impossibility of communication. This is the special theme of my work. Sometimes my paintings are a flight from dependency on realistic forms toward more abstract self-expression; sometimes realistic forms win out. But even my still life and abstract work express moments of loneliness in which a person finds himself and the thoughts he may have at such moments. I feel an overwhelming desire to reconstruct in my art an ideal and harmonious world. More harmonious than the world of reality.