They don’t make a business card large enough to list all of Daria Bagrintseva’s accomplishments. Though she’s best known as a painter, she’s gained acclaim as a photographer, graphic designer and interior designer, too. In the past few years alone, Bagrintseva has shown her work everywhere from her native Russia to Spain, Germany, Italy and the U.S.
Spontaneous in her creations, Bagrintseva compares herself to a sprinter at the starting line; she is always ready to create. Utilizing a variety of techniques, media, materials and genres, Bagrintseva’s work defies easy categorization as she melds traditional techniques with modern-day methods to explore an endless list of inspirations.
ABN spent “15 Minutes” with Bagrintseva to talk about her influences and the definition of success.
Jennifer Wood (ABN): When did you know you first wanted to be an artist?
Daria Bagrintseva (DB): I have been drawing since childhood. I was driven by the possibility to create my own fantasy world, to let this world come to life.
ABN: How did you get started?
DB: When my parents realized I was serious about painting, they sent me to art school. I accomplished its four-year plan in two years. After school, I entered the Moscow State Industrial Art University SG Stroganov, one of the most prestigious painting institutions in Russia.
Getting a professional painting background is an important initial step for any painter. It gives the confidence to understand color, form, reflexes, anatomy, perspective, perception, etc. [But] classic academic training had its drawbacks. Major attention was paid to mastering the techniques of painting, drawing and making sculptures, while the emotional aspects of creativity and current contemporary art studies were underestimated.
In 2002, I graduated the Academy with a Masters of Art degree. Upon graduation, I have deliberately refused to follow many of the principles that we were taught. Having a professional background allows one to play with form, colors and composition—to go beyond the rules and deliberately allow incorrectness. Paradoxically, the resulting painting turns out to be more realistic.
ABN: How would you describe your style?
DB: Style for me is just a tool, the same as subject, technique or the size of the canvas. It is rather difficult to define the style in which I work. It has some elements of expressionism in some works, and impressionism in others. Sometimes [a piece] demands a mixture of styles in the spirit of postmodernism, or the brightness and straightness of pop art. A lot of my works are written in the style of abstract expressionism; however, all of them are united by a similar brushwork and creation algorithm.
ABN: What are your preferred tools?
DB: The palette knife and acrylic paints, as well as brushes of different sizes and shapes, and [sometimes] Indian ink and pastel paints. Sometimes I use any available mixed media, such as fabric, newspapers, coins, parts of plants or sand.
A painting executed by a palette knife is very emotional. It has a rich and interesting texture, transmitting the expression of the author. A palette knife is the perfect tool to pass emotions.
Acrylic paints, as compared to any other material, allow you to paint quickly without being distracted by the technological limitations of oil paints and other artistic means. It allows you to “knead” the picture, to work on the [entire] canvas at once, for a long time. With acrylics, you can work emotionally, not fearing that the color will change when it dries.
ABN: What attracts you to a subject?
DB: Emotion, color and composition. It is much easier to convey emotion by means of abstraction rather than with subject painting. Although, for example, if you have a look at my Big Dragon painting, it is the embodiment of melancholy loneliness; the Golden painting is the quintessence of pain. The landscapes, by the way, are no less emotional… I travel a lot and often take paints and canvas in a roll with me so that I do not miss the vivid experiences inspired by the trip.
ABN: How do you define success?
DB: Success for me is to convey soul and emotion through my works to the audience; when a person stands by the painting with empathy, crying or smiling happily. It is not necessary to hit or reach out to everyone, but I do not want to be completely not understood… Everybody needs feedback, evaluation and a return of emotions from another person. Painting a work just for yourself is like being a bright lamp turned on and hidden in a drawer: It’s pointless and absurd.
ABN: What’s the one goal you hope to achieve in your career?
DB: Despite my achievements, I believe that I am at the beginning of the road. I do not have a single global goal. If one day I believe that I’ve reached the top, it would mean I should change professions—or that life has ended.
As for my local goals, there are a lot. For example, I’d love to try working with a large installation in a modern art museum space. It would also be great to take part in the Venice Biennale. That would be a challenge—and recognition—and an extremely interesting task.
ABN: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
DB: “Do not be afraid of anything.” “Learn all the rules, but then understand that there are no rules.” Being fearless is the most important [thing] for an artist.
ABN: What’s the worst piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
DB: “Keep it safe. Be like everyone else. Follow the rules. Let your works be one style and look alike, so that people recognize them right away.” I find that boring, because it would be like painting the same work several times.
ABN: In this profession, is it smarter to be collaborative or competitive?
DB: It all depends on the problem. You cannot say for sure. It is very difficult to break through in life without cooperation… On the other hand, competition should exist. It makes one move forward… and keep working hard. The main thing is to avoid the dirt and meanness, pushing elbows and scheming. In competition, I’d like a fair play and a clean victory.
ABN: What’s up next for you?
DB: We are preparing a very interesting and provocative project with a museum in London. We hope to make a “bombshell.” I cannot say more, at the request of the project curators.
Several exhibitions are planned for this Spring: In February, my “New Hopes” personal exhibition [will be at the] Moscow Arts Centre in Russia. In March, I’ll be at International Artexpo New York. I want to show [more than 45] new and old works there, in various styles and themes.
In April and May, I’ll have more shows in Paris, Moscow and hopefully in Venice, and the above-mentioned London one, too. In June, we will most likely participate in a Basel Art Week project. At the same time, I will keep on experimenting with my ideas, as well as with media, forms and style. ABN
Visit www.dariart.com for more information on Daria Bagrintseva.