The story of a little girl from the big world

I grew up in Paris, which I have never been to.

They say that it is a child who chooses their parents. If so, I hit the jackpot. Shortly before my birth, the family moved to a town that a ten-year-old child could walk around in a day. I lived in Paris. This is what the local kids called our area, where a 14-storey red brick building stood. The only of the kind in the town.

I had a happy childhood of a child whose parents were busy making living. My parents did not torment me with overprotection and allowed me to get my own bumps and bruises. I grew up kind of a tomboy and used to make others get bumps from me.

Года в четыре Since I was four I have loved drawing. Dad played a LP record for me: Mowgli, Star Boy, Ali Baba and 40 Thieves. I listened to the voices and hurried to embody in colors everything that was sweeping before my inner gaze.

At the age of 11, I was enrolled in an art school. It was the oldest building in the town, a wooden one with creaky floors and the smell of cheap gouache.

Sometimes, instead of painting yet another still-life with a jug, we’d sneak into the studio, and I’d gaze, entranced, at the faces on the canvasses, trying to understand the secret of art’s magic.

Oh, how I loathed those jugs. And the still-life apples, battered, plastic, smelling of despair. The only lessons where I sprang alive were composition, sculpting, and art history. 

One day, I decided to make a «painting» for my mom. As the subject, I chose traditional Russian fortune-telling. Three girls stand underneath a window, eavesdropping and trying to predict what kind of marriage awaits each of them.

In order to portray the girls’ costumes in an authentic way, I visited the local museum and copied sketches from the glossy albums at the library reading hall. My painting, 80×60 cm in size, took a month to complete. It turned out quite decent, and my teachers suggested that I take it to an exhibition.

I really, really did not want to part with it! Those girls had become like sisters to me. I thought that if I let my creation go, I’d lose it forever.

And my sense of foreboding turned out to be right: I never saw my painting again. No one ever gave me an explanation. And I grew resentful.

I now loathed my school, my teachers, even the very smell of paint. I’d skip classes, and when I did come in, I’d spend the lesson sitting on my round stool and looking out the window. My teacher had to finish up my exam submissions for me.

After I graduated, I packed my brushes into a large black briefcase, kicked it under my bed, and announced, much to my parents’ shock, that I would never, ever draw anything again.

20 years passed.

I had enough time to graduate from university with a bachelor’s degree in philology, get married, and master professional skills. I had everything I needed. Except for a spark of light in my heart. I figured that it did not matter. Really, what could possibly matter about some paint splashed over a canvas?

But one day, I found myself at an oncologist’s office. 

I remember that day very well. I paced desperately, trampling the grass on the lawn in front of the hospital and praying to all gods I could remember. I did not even ask for a cure—I asked for a chance. A chance to release that inner spark that was trapped somewhere deep down.

Fortunately, my diagnosis was not confirmed. Although who knows, maybe the disease is slumbering within me like a curled-up serpent, ready to rear its ugly head the moment I stop being true to myself again.

I am not afraid to speak up anymore, and my paints are my voice.

I speak about each person and all of us together. About our place in the world and our interactions with it. About loneliness and intimacy. About fear and strength.

The main character in my paintings is Moreau. She embodies the soul of the world, the essence that is present within each tiny particle of everything that surrounds us. And within ourselves as well. 

All of my works are a single whole, like the canvas of life itself, where we paint our patterns with every action and every choice.