by David Charles – 7/26/2006
Nadia Pronina, Ukrainian Painter–A Self-Portrait
Nadia Pronina was born in 1956 in Kiev, Ukraine and now lives in Chisinau, Republic of Moldova. Several months ago she found Fine Art Registry. She has so far tagged and registered 54 of her amazing paintings and plans to get all her work registered and tagged through FAR.
“I discovered Nadia Pronina’s work a few years ago on an obscure web site and immediately recognized that she had something special—something magic about her work,” says Teri Franks, founder and CEO of FAR. “It was not until I purchased two of her pieces that I realized Nadia possessed a style and technique all her own. The manner in which she paints is extraordinary—the sort of subterranean texture of the medium, her use of color and light, the brilliant capture of ethereal, yet surreal, dreamlike figures executed with an expert hand mystifies the viewer, but with a secret familiarity. Nadia’s work is exciting and fresh. There is little doubt that she will soon be highly sought-after in the U.S., especially as she continues to register her work with FAR. Nadia’s amazing ability and contribution as an artist to future generations will be remembered for all time. I’m just blown away by her genius.”
Nadia’s story, her description of her art and her place in the world of art are best told in her own words. Although not her native language, her English is remarkably good and a little bit of editing for grammar and clarity is all that has been done here. The words are her own.
I graduated from Stroganov Art University in Moscow. It was the best possible education an artist could get in the former Soviet Union at the time. I think that with an education I have gained the freedom to express myself according to my inner being and to how I sense the world. But I am not sure that education is a necessity for all artists, and, on the contrary, sometimes it can be counterproductive for a person, narrowing their vision and thinking to superimposed stereotypes. It seems that for abstract painting, there is no need to study academic drawing, though in the Stroganovka, where I studied, there was a special school—I’d rather call it ‘school of the substance drawing’—which taught draftsmanship. This was the place which gave me an opportunity to develop and manifest my sense of the form and the plastic, that I think was there initially and striving to get out. It was already visible in my childhood paintings, but absence of skill constrained me—mine was the exact case where skill is a liberating factor. I don’t like craftsmanship in painting, but helplessness is also regrettable. So, to summarize, education can become a ‘crutch’ for a person or put blinders on someone else, but still may be wings for another. I think it depends very much on individual. In my case, it provided the wings.
I have been drawing since childhood, and I can’t recall any time when I was not drawing. At the beginning I was trying to directly reproduce the world around me. But gradually my inner vision led me further and further away from reality. With time, images I wanted to embody appeared in my imagination with more and more clarity. I feel like a spectator of world transformations, watching it flow back and forth from conscious to unconscious. I have always been fascinated with this subtle flow, glow and sliding. But the time comes when it manifests itself as the forms and surfaces becoming a thick shaggy mass, when it gains the quality of palpability and resistance.
I am certain that we have been granted the experience of being in a material world to recognize this material resistance, its thickness, its facture [the way it is made], its transience. I never try to conceive anything; I just try to consolidate in my memory visions that appear when I close my eyes. Sometimes they come in infinite sequence, causing me fatigue and frightening me, sometimes they don’t come at all and that frightens me even more.
But regardless of how much I try to remember and materialize these visions, canvas always manifests something completely different. This seems to be the correct term for the process, because my will is turned off at this moment–to be precise, it just happens by itself. When painting I never think about the picture, but always contemplate and play around a life situation in my mind that does not have any relation to me or to what I am working on at the moment. Maybe it is a method of meditation, a self-detachment that takes my thoughts away, and gives my conscious an opportunity to sort out its relationship with the unconscious uncontrolled. And then something emerges, something distantly or closely resembling images that I’ve seen. It can bring amazement or leave me indifferent, and I try to explain it, though I understand that there is no need for explanation on the whole. Art can be a matter for philosophy or rhetoric, but it’s impossible to explain it, so I am always puzzled when asked to interpret something. I give my audience full freedom of associations, leaving them peacefully unaware, although they don’t seem to be satisfied with that most of the time.
I sell my paintings to people who know better than me what I do–there are not many–and collectors come mostly from USA. In Europe my paintings are mostly bought by people who have a relation to art themselves. I would like to sell enough to enable me to work without stress and fuss.
As time goes by I grow increasingly selective in my preferences, but still irrevocably in love with Balthus, Modigliani, Breughel. To this day their work takes my breath away. I know that if I paint, things are the way they should be. I don’t know why or for what, but I am certain that blessed is everyone who touches the canvas and wants to say something. I leave to myself a much more humble part: I try to convey things that were given for me to see, and I keep detached from my artwork to observe it. I like this game and I feel excitement when others are involved and excited, sometimes revealing things I have not ever thought of. I don’t think an artist is there to entertain, but to stir up feelings submerged in a daily routine, even feelings of protest or aversion coming out from the mire of preoccupation and complacency.
I prefer oil for its density, richness and tangibility. I constantly experiment with texture, assigning it a very special role in my artwork. I like to freely endow my characters with unusual, not inherent, texture, in this manner mixing different attributes of all existence, swapping around the alive and the not living, thinking and contemplation, passion and indifference. I like to tangle roles, emphasizing equal values, unity and interplay of all elements of reality.
I assume it won’t be original to say that I’d like my works to be seen by as many people as possible. But I do not expect to draw attention of the majority judging from what I can see in ratings and on the internet. I would like to build my own set of viewers, sharing my vision, and I’d prefer to show up on events where I can draw an interested, special audience rather than just the occasional, curious passers by.
The most important events in my short term, upcoming schedule are personal shows in Rome in September 2006 and in Bordeaux, France in 2007. — Nadia Pronina