• Marina

Working Process

“How long does it take you to create one piece?”. I often hear this question and the closest answer is “from a few weeks to a few years”. I will give you one example. 

I started this painting in 2010, finished it in 2017 and added some subtle glazes in 2018. It is supposed to be a portrait of my oldest Moscow friend, the only one remaining from my homeless days. His story is even darker than mine.

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During the seven years we rented together a couple of different apartments, he complained about the smell of turpentine, I was too egoistical to quit and kept painting him in oil. I also became best friends with his girlfriend and made her portraits as well. 

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I was painting all my numerous flatmates, but this guy was particular difficult to depict. I tried to put our warm friendship feelings on the canvas, but also not forget about his drama. In the end, drama won. 

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The great advantage of using oils is that you can keep coming back to one work and add almost as many layers as you want, a method of working you can't do in other paint mediums.  His face changed a lot during those years and I came back to this canvas regularly. When I started to work on it again in 2017, I realised that the painting was ageing with him and I was still failing to catch his personality.

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At some point, the picture lost it’s direct connection to my friend and started to become something of its own. Once I got angry at it and scratched the layers of paint with a palette knife. Part of a background paint got at the middle of his face, I stopped and looked at it.  The crack that had appeared gave the picture new meanings. This bifurcated face seemed more interesting to me and I added more black colour, cutting it in two halves. 

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I did fail to paint my friend, but without painting him I wouldn’t get this final picture, which tells a lot more about those seven years then that simple life-like portrait could.

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On the right bottom corner of the second picture, you can see one of the intermediate version of this work, made at one of my old rented rooms.

Oil on board 50 x 35 cm ( 19.6 x 13 in).

Available for €350 ($400). Print is €30 ($35).

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