Anna Berezovskaya’s upcoming exhibition at REDSEA Gallery features an awe-inspiring collection of 28 never-before-seen artworks that have been four years in the making.
The collection is called “White Night”; it’s named for the curious phenomenon that occurs during the summer months in her home country of Russia, when the midnight sun remains visible throughout the night. Anna Berezovskaya says, “During the White Nights, there are islands where the scent of winter apples is intoxicating, and the brightness of the nights is so inviting.”
We asked Anna Berezovskaya more about her work and life.
“White Night” is your fifth solo exhibition at REDSEA Gallery; tell us a bit about your approach to it.
I divide art into two components: the idea and its technical execution. I must admit, I’m still learning about oil painting. For me, working with oil paint is like learning a language – learning to formulate a thought, or build a phrase in a new way. I look at contemporary art, design techniques, the work of classic painters, and immediately imagine how it can be displayed in oil.
Oil technique is like a good book: when you look at it only from one angle, it can seem that its meaning is limited. But, with experience, other sides of it open up to you. I’ve also started working more with graphics; I like to switch from canvas and colour to monochrome materials (charcoal, sepia and so on) and paper. It’s kind of like a break for myself too.
Over the years, as I’ve travelled, the traditions and culture of other countries have greatly influenced my ideas. I’m very interested in Chinese culture and philosophy, and in this series of paintings and my latest exhibition, I have works dedicated to this theme; “The river where the stars fall”, for example, is about fishing with cormorants in the provinces of China, and “Moon cake” is about Chinese traditions and holidays.
Is there a painting from your REDSEA Gallery exhibition that stands out the most to you, or which you enjoyed working on the most?
With paintings, as with children, it’s difficult to choose a favourite! It might happen that one artwork comes easily and quickly, while with another you have to suffer, putting it off and returning again after a while. In both cases, I draw positive conclusions for myself: if it turned out easily, I love it; if it was difficult, I still love it, because this is a certain experience I have overcome.
Speaking of experience, in this exhibition there is a painting called “Calligraphy on the water” (above) It shows people practicing calligraphy in different conditions of water: steam, ice, a flowing stream. And it would seem this is a senseless exercise because everything written will dissolve.
But this painting is not about senselessness; rather, it’s about the experience that we go through before we achieve success. Our success is a result of the everyday mastery hidden from others’ sights. You could compare it to the tip of the iceberg that can be seen, but the huge block of experience is underneath the water.
Another painting is “Milkshake”. Every year in the first half of autumn, the Almabtrieb takes place in Switzerland. This marks the descent of cows from the alpine pastures and their return to the winter stalls. The end of the summer grazing season and the beginning of wintering in the stables is celebrated as a great holiday and is an important part of the peasant tradition in the Alps. In honour of this holiday, the heads of the cows are decorated with floral wreaths.
The plot of my painting is about a city girl in the village. Sometimes we have to switch from our urban worries and vanities. There is nothing more restorative than a return to the primary sources – to nature and to the earth – with whose “milk” we are fed. It’s about the ability to contemplate and receive emotions from simplicity. After all, life is not the number of years lived, it is the number of emotions lived.
When you’re not in the studio painting and drawing, how do you unwind?
In addition to work, I also have a family – my husband and two daughters. And, like all families, we all need to pay attention to each other, to help when needed and to talk; it doesn’t leave much time for “unwinding”! Probably the only time I’m resting is while I’m walking from my studio to the house – all three metres of it!
What makes you happy in life?
Sometimes small, insignificant moments make life happy for me. Sometimes it’s a delicious breakfast; or it might be a phrase that I hear, and then I get an idea for a new painting. Sometimes it’s a sunny day in the middle of grey dull autumn.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given, not just in art but in life?
I had a wonderful great-grandmother Anna who, despite her hard life, had a big heart and plenty of wisdom. She was my example that I have to be hardworking, and I always heard words of support from her. She’d say that I should be brave and not be afraid of anything. These are probably the most important pieces of advice in my life: diligence and courage.
About Anna Berezovskaya
Born in Yakhroma near Moscow in 1986, Anna studied at Abramtsevsky Art and Industrial College from 2001. Her works are easily recognisable by their unique signature style, which she refers to as “Poetic Realism”; this style brings together techniques from realism, abstraction and surrealism. Anna’s use of universal themes, inspired by her own life and imagination, transcend time and space, resonating with viewers’ own emotions and the values we hold close. Her works are all separate and distinctive, yet with a common emotional thread binding them.
This article first appeared in the May 2022 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe, so you never miss a copy!
Looking for more things to in Singapore?
Get the latest events, stories and special offers
sent to your inbox.
By signing up, you'll receive our weekly newsletters and offers, which you can unsubscribe to anytime.