photoint.net | Su Yuezhuo
In a world dominated by men, women’s self-aesthetic perception has struggled ever since between innocence and lust, purity and vanity, sensitivity and dullness, beauty and beast. The “Women in Landscape” in the classical works of the old masters recorded the definition of female beauty of their past time.
Katerina Belkina’s work consists of an unconventional combination of photography, painting and digital drawing. And these unconventional techniques carry an unconventional statement about the nature of the female being.
Katerina Belkina has created modern women in ubiquitous contemporary landscapes, by putting herself as a new heroine into old themes and stories, which are both recognizable and mysterious. These generic prototypes of women look fashionable yet cold, sexy yet lonely, they seem to want to break the traditional pattern defined by men, they seem to be searching for an identity of their own, but cannot really escape the original “sin” of being female. The confrontation with the impossibility thereof is great, these strong pictorial characters are mainly aimed face-forward, who become the objects and the viewers at the same time. They look at the audience, which makes the audience feel a touch of discomfort.
Katerina Belkina shows herself as a distant character in different roles, thus putting her own individuality into perspective, while at the same time addressing the viewer. Most of the times Katerina puts herself in front of her camera and shoots amazingly beautiful and crystal-clear images with different symbolic elements that look like surrealistic paintings, both lifelike and dreamlike. The compositions of fiction and autobiography in her works are truly alarming and fascinating. With some irony and her unique technique of photography, painting and digital manipulation, Katerina has created “women in landscape” anew.
Katerina Belkina is an international award-winning visual artist and photographer born in 1974 in Samara, Russia. Katerina grew up in an artistic family and always knew she wanted to be an artist. She attended art school, and went on to studyat academy of art and college of Photography. Classical technique was stressed throughout her education. Katerina had won 1st place in category Fine Art of Moscow International Photo Awards in 2014; 1st place in 3 categories of International Photography Awards Los Angeles in 2012; 1st place in portrait’s category of Px3Photo Competition Paris in 2010; 1st place of the 14th International OnlineArtist Competition Berlin in 2008; Art4.ru Museum Awards Moscow in 2008 and she was Nominee of Kandinsky Prize as Russian artist of the Year.
A conversation with Katerina:
Q: Many photographers stick to processing-free photographic realism, why do you choose digital manipulation?
A: I think painting, photography or other art forms, these are only media through whichthe artists express their thoughts and ideas. I studied painting, later designand photography, and I have developed a work process of my own. I work very slowly, all the works comprise photography, painting and digital drawing parts.I found that digital painting greatly helped me expressing myself in order torealize my concept more vividly. Sometimes the manipulated part is moreexpressive than the realistic part. I believe if the digital drawing tools had already existed in the era of Picasso or Van Gogh, they would have no doubt used them.
Q: Can you talk about your own process of creating a work?
A: At firstI search locally and internally for something inside me, I look for something feminine, conspicuously abstract and dramatic,until the search leads to something bigger. I draw a lot of sketches while thinking, eliminate unsuitableideas – sometimes this takes a longtime. Once the idea is chosen, I will make awork plan and study the technical aspects of creation, composition, color, light,drawing and all sorts of details. My production time is also fairly longsince I am the photographer and model at the same time. Though I enjoy having these two identities, the process of shooting sometimes was not enjoyable at all. For example, when I was working on the“Mermaid” of the series “Not a Man’s World”, I need to do underwatershots. I wanted my hair floating upwards in the water, my eyes widely open,while holding a plastic bag filled with plastic fins, I had to gaze at the camera lens, full of yearn and attentiveness.I went underwater countless timesfor this shots, my eyes were burning at the end and I could hardly open them. Iadmit that I am a perfectionist.
Q: Why do you model yourself?
A:Many famous artists in the art history had womenas themes, as we know that manymasters had long-term intimate relationshipswith their models. They smeltedtheir perfect technique, talent, sexual desire and energy into their pictures, which gave us their masterpieces. I had also tried to use models, but I find itdifficult to transfer all my ideas and feelings to the model. The idea to usemyself as a model came up pretty soon and it works well. I started with investigating my inspirations, e.g. what did Vincent feel when he was creatingself-portraits? Why was he doing that? What did he want to say? What would Ifeel if I was in his shoes? This transformed into learning more about myself through an attempt to trace the process of the creation of world masterpieces.
Q: Tell me about yourself, when did you choose to become an artist?
A: I was born in Samara, a Russian city on the European continent. My mother is an artist; my fatheris a mathematician with great passion for art. When I was small, our house was like a big artist studio, I started learning painting atage of 2. All games my parents offered me were linked to drawing or developing imagination.I was always surrounded by books, paintings and conversations about art.Museumvisits were an integral part of our life. I’m very lucky because through out my childhood, I have always been inspired by the greatness and beauty and later onhad the opportunity to benefit from art education. I never thought of becomingan artist because I always saw myself as one since I was a child.
Q: Your solo exhibition will be on display in Beijing, this is your first exhibition in China, do you want to say something to the Chinese audience?
A: I am very excited about this exhibition in Beijing. I have no idea how the Chinese audience will react to my work. Although art is said to have no boarder, they are often seemly connected but still somewhat disparate if they come from different part of the globe. My works are influenced by European and Russian culture and by Christian religions, and they also reflect a lot of my own private experience. I have always found Asian culture, Chinese culture, Buddhism and Taoism fascinating. I am curious to learn how Chinese audience andart colleagues would see my pieces. Thanks to Gallery being 3 for organizing mysolo exhibition in Beijing.