On Inspiration

Written by different authors

Alexander Volkov

Sometimes, inspiration comes while working on a painting much alike the appetite that, as we know, grows with eating or else it can be compared with going on a mushroom picking field trip. Sometimes it just hits you all out of the blue — while taking the kid to school — when the brain is not yet fully engaged with the global reality. A number of things might come helpful, like roaming aimlessly through the city, contemplating bubbling water in a canal, visiting a shared residence in an old-Petersburg-style apartment or other inspiring places like jazz and fusion sessions.

Vadim Bo

The concept of a painting sometimes takes shape on the go, when I have already started working on the painting, along with the process of its development, in the course of overlaying colour patches and accumulating material. I believe that creation of a painting should be a long process, that a painting should grow — much alike a tree or like a mineral crystal in a cave gradually evolving into a precious stone. Usually I work on several canvases at a time and slowly, one by one they transform into independent works of art. The Paintings. Symbols, signs, recognizable objects, sometimes figures gradually appear. Sometimes a plot emerges. The longer the process of creation of a painting, the more extended is the impact on the viewer. Once in a while, I understand the meaning of some of my works only after they get finished. One might say that it is my subconscious mind that makes a painting. All of the images are recognizable and can be easily read but viewers are free to interpret them differently, the way they see them.

What are those images? It's hard to say for sure. They are letters, texts, half-erased pictures, images of a pomegranate, the moon, boats (as a symbol of movement, road, and travel), an image of home, etc. Sometimes they migrate from painting to painting or may add up into series (Aliens’ Letters, Long Journey, A Place on the Earth and others). There are also symbols referring to icons or frescoes in my works, first of all, the image of the Hodegetria (the Virgin and Child as the eternal theme of motherhood). These works may also evolve into cycles (Burnt Icon, Restoration, The Other Side of the Icon, Dark Panels, etc.).

A painting will never succeed if it does not convey energy and magic and if there is no mystery in it. After all, a work of art is just a blast of steam coming out of the spout of a boiling kettle, a litmus test of the work that takes place in the artist’s mind. Therefore, it is always obvious if an artist is honest with himself or only pretending.

Vadim Kolobovnikov

I get inspired by strength. That unrestrained, vibrant energy that is present everywhere and gets expressed in color, in the emotional grip of a song, in a confrontation, in a battle.

I get inspired by nature, by its pensiveness, by its temper, by all those things you can hardly put into words, things you can only grasp while observing, smelling, sensing, soaking every single bit of the world. The boundaries between objects dim out, the sky becomes a part of the water; birds, a part of the foliage; yourself, a part of the earth. I love trees — big, wise, sophisticated, seeking out the sun and the wind, and animals, and people sometimes. I am inspired by loneliness. An in-depth conversation with yourself. Not an explanation of the reality, rather an analysis of how it is perceived.

The beginning is inspiring. A blank canvas if you will. A breath you take before you start singing or dive into the water. Complexity is inspiring. Our world is too complex for us to fail to admire it. An apple fallen from a table might bring about a meeting of two people that are meant for each other or an unseen disaster or, on the opposite, might prevent something happening. Both the chain of these events, the way they flow from each other and the end result are fascinating. This is complexity. Ambiguity.

The extremes are inspiring. Silence and outcry. Laughter and tears. Brightness and dullness. Peace of mind and madness. Simply put, no matter where you look, there’s always something that enables metamorphosis of your thoughts and development of your creativity.

Viktor Vasiliev

Francis Bacon once said in an interview that sometimes the less expected things like, for instance, the Manual of Oral Cavity Diseases, could inspire creative ideas. Back in the day, I was stunned and inspired by one of the paintings by Mikalojus Čiurlionis and after that I went through a similar experience several times. So it happened when I saw a calligraphic scroll with a poem by Du Fu, the 8th century Chinese poet. It was a large scroll of 2.0 by 0.8 meters and it was fully covered with hieroglyphs in the căoshū-style cursive script. This is a very particular style with script characters resembling flowing seaweed in the water. The scroll emanated an extraordinary power. I was very surprised to learn though that my Chinese teacher, a language scholar, an intellectual who had practiced calligraphy for six years, failed to translate this manuscript. He said he could make out only a few characters. From an inscription on one side of the scroll he was aware that it was a verse by Du Fu whose poems he loved and knew well but still he was unable to read the entire text.

In fact, in some ways the căoshū style is nothing else but a visual expression of the unconscious. Can you tell me where else we have a chance to really see the unconscious? That is exactly why the căoshū-style script is both elusive and attractive and in many cases proves unreadable ... High art is not much interested in an artist’s conscious objective unless it is supported by the artist’s essence and soul, by his true feelings, his openness and sincerity.

Anna Zholud

The rain from the sky falls, falls. That snow flakes, big drops. And soul washing toils, toils. Sometimes escapes drops. Sometimes that escapes the line steep, dotted. sometimes. Sometimes strip continuous black, my life as rope twisted and probably I fateful... And the rain from the sky falls, falls that snow flakes that big drops and soul washing is broken off sometimes spreads pools. A round dance leaves will begin to spin, and it is time to have supper probably, and heating boots in reflections, to scoop accidentally inspiration.

Mikhail Grachiov

An impulse to get started is akin to singing. Images arise when you feel good at heart. An idea to paint something may come unexpectedly or might have been nurtured for years — it varies from picture to picture. I usually make sketches with a pencil or a pen or whatever can draw or with all that together at the same time and I go on sketching until I get what I like and what corresponds to the concept of the painting. I always make stretchers and prime canvas myself. I buy canvas and then apply sizing and ground all by myself. I love the preparation routine not less than painting, it is a great pleasure for me.

I do not paint from nature — I always let it pass through the prism of my imagination first. I work on a painting for a long time, sometimes for years, to give myself time enough to reflect, to see, and to understand. Sometimes, an idea gets transformed and takes an entirely new form; sometimes nuances, unexpected aspects, or even a new vision of the material might appear. I am constantly on the lookout for a new form of image presentation since, in my opinion, it is the great form that makes and characterizes an artist.

Liudmila López Dominguez

My inspirations are femininity, sensuality, and female life. My goal is to show my vision of political, social and psychological issues facing women today.

I have a real passion for women's shoes, they inspire me. It's a sort of a genetic thing, as my mom is also a shoe fanatic. Shoes are reflection of my interest in gender problems and my way to symbolically depict them. My work is self-referential. To bring it to sculpture, I summarize the female body and adapt it to shoes — those everyday objects which can tell you about your life, your path, your dreams, desires and sorrows, the stories of an era, and a person's life…

There is nothing more important than shoes when it comes to depicting human emotion and a person's thoughts. It allows me to make connections between my own personal history and the collective one.

I never intended or thought to be anything other than an artist with gorgeous shoes on.

Semyon Motolyanets

Thinking of what art means to me, I come to the conclusion that I am not quite the right artist. I felt this irregularity as soon as I started my studies, back at the art school. They explained to me that first you had to draw the sky and then pass to drawing the leaves on the trees, so as not to colour each leaf separately. So many years have passed, but I still do not understand why this is the way things are, and how the background would stick to the pictorial object.

This silly story constantly brings me back to the question of the right method for an artist. Resistance to retinal art once pushed me into performance experiments and the complete rejection of image as an unacceptable method of contemporary art. Further on, I came to rethinking of the tasks and ideas of compactness of the picture since it is a universal and most common art object: an image in the rectangle.

The semantic aspects have always interested me more than plastic questions, and therefore I have always experienced problems while back in art school. I have always wanted to understand the art, and this understanding put an insurmountable barrier between the rational and the sensual-intuitive in the art.

I keep doing my job in the hope of a new discovery. At the same time I do understand that there is a significant and fundamental difference between creative and scientific practices, and that the discovery method in the arts, unlike the one in science, is exclusively empirical. At times, it is a discovery of the trivial and obvious, to some extent, of something already discovered. It is fine art precisely that poses the questions of cognoscibility to us: why do we go to see a familiar work a thousand times, what do we want to find in it? We repeat subjects; we walk around the same themes and always find a different vision. And it is an endless round dance.

I believe that art creates a mechanism for reflection. A successful art work is an operating mechanism; a poor work is a mechanism that failed to function, although all the signs, namely the formal signs, might be present. While realizing this I do not deny any other opposing creative practices.

An obstacle to understanding (how can you understand a colored spot, or an emotional stroke, or smudges, or splashes, and in general, any image?), is the main inspiration and incentive to work for me. I love art because it is an eternal struggle with boredom. Art is the establishment of rules, new rules of its own, quite possibly not very correct and logical, but working. Sometimes I stand in front of an art work and don’t even understand what I feel it with — my head, heart, guts or skin. One can love art exactly for this, it gives everyone a chance to make his own statement, and this statement can be heard.

Somebody will read this short text and might want to see the photos of my works in the hope of finding confirmation or denial of my conclusions. I wonder if one finds there what I write above, and sees the connection between my thoughts and their artistic implementation. I understand that this gap can accommodate the whole world. That is why art is an inexhaustible field for action, provocation, new rules, silence, denial and other creative acts.

Adonis Muino Romero

I do not consider myself an artist of inspiration. Usually, the first thing I do is to build up a story from images, events, symbolic or allegorical elements I deal with. For me it is more important "to say" than "to paint", because I believe art to be an act of communication where the artist, on top of talent and skills, has to offer a story, a scene where the viewer is attracted and gets involved in a dialogue with the art piece instead of just contemplating the object. Whenever I work with familiar images, I prefer to have them decontextualized and put within a different story: then everything from the technique to the art piece title becomes part of the story and provides clues to the viewer.

I believe that every creator has a hidden goal, a dream or an objective to fulfil. In my case, the only thing I ask for is to continue creating. I think that the achievements and goals are met as the work progresses, everything else just comes along with it. It is obvious that I also want my art to be appreciated nationally and internationally and exhibited in museums, galleries and important collections. That is why, as I said before, I go on and will keep working.

Success in the world of arts can be misleading, because not everything commercially successful or the most exhibited in galleries is necessarily the best. Still, the recognition of the work, acceptance and enjoyment, first by the artist and then by the public is a very important factor. As far as I am concerned, I consider myself an artist both artistically and commercially viable.

I suppose that I owe my success to my own language within the emerging Cuban art scene, to the themes I deal with, and to the use of visual elements that distinguish me and give me a personal stamp. I believe that my young career is making a good progress between acceptance and the road to recognition.

Aldis Dobenbergs

Ideas of images and inspiration to create them come from nature through research and imagination. Some astronomical observations I did with a telescope put me up to including the theme of the universe in my paintings. While watching the life of yard birds, I came up with the theme of crows. Before that, I took to the theme of slums which inspired me by their mysticism. These are the most important themes for me.

In any aspect of my work I rely solely on my intuition and try to avoid falling under the influence of other people's advice, recommendations or wishes.

I am very inspired by a dream that one of my works might be shown in the Louvre museum.

Daiga Krūze

For me, there is no better way to get inspired than taking a good long walk in the countryside, listening to birds singing and watching wildlife. I am open to new impressions, now and then I might develop a new interest or find a new hobby, but emotions coming from nature are always the driving force of my work.

What is most important to me is to be able to show emotions, feelings, energy, strength, purity, and beauty, I prefer dynamic over quieter setups, and I often look for new ways to demonstrate all these. I do not search for a subject to be painted, but rather allow myself to wait until the right moment happens. I never plan the creative process in advance. My works always turn out different, a thing that I both like and dislike.

I have been fond of Jean-Michel Basquiat since my student years at the Academy. Looking at his works, I tell myself that I think the same, that I like these colour spots too. I admire the way he can speak out or draw the theme so freely. All of these look very cconvincing to me. There were of course other artists I liked or got inspired by, Vincent Van Gogh and Joan Miró to name a few: artists that encouraged me and made me think.

Alexander Dashevsky 

I have to say, I do not like to use this word. There is something passive about it, as though you need to keep waiting until you are blessed with a desire to get down to work. I am an up-and-doing kind and I am almost always eager to work. Add to that some quality art materials within reach, a new tool, an idea buzzing in your head as a bumblebee in an empty room, and the desire to work becomes overwhelming.

Semichov and Kuzmin (S&K)

It is hardly possible to put into words the "mechanics" of how the inspiration to paint something comes. Most often, it remains a mystery where the starting point was and when the first urge came, or it is just impossible to remember. I would say that we are inspired by the very process of what is happening around us.  At any rate, we cannot help feeling that we are living in a fantastic reality, a kind of reality that was generated by the turning-points of the modern history of Russia. And the apparent strangeness, the seeming absurdity of our themes come directly from life itself.

Katerina Borodavchenko

I'm inspired by someone else's success! By works of other artists. I like visiting exhibitions and museums. When I am thrilled with something, I feel like immediately getting back to work. If I see a really good piece of work, I have an urge to do something incredible and absolutely new at that, something that can not be compared or equaled to existing works. No doubt, the history of fine art is so rich that you can hardly be singular and unique all the time and, still, I try to do uniquely different things. And it's not about my ego or a trivial desire just to be different from everyone. The point is to make some kind of discovery in art in general and to stay away from repeating, assimilating known techniques, styles, and concepts, even if it is very tempting.

My global theme is the relation between nature and humans. Most of my works are images of trees with a mirror effect. This effect is present in all my paintings, symmetry being a symbol of harmony, tranquility and perfection (which I lack in my everyday life). I try to create symbolic works and in this respect an analogy can be drawn with the artworks of the past where each character, pose or object has a meaning or symbolizes something.

Alexander Kabin

I am inspired by strength and beauty. By art too, whatever it is. I am inspired by the mere fact that art exists in this world. And music... Music, even if it is not exactly a source of inspiration, has a very special place in my work. I am not used to work in silence and I always have some music on when I paint. More often than not, I prefer some relaxing ambient music. If someone wants to get a better feeling of my works, it probably makes sense to turn on music.

Misha Levin

Pictorial language has always been for me the main tool to communicate things that I deem important, things of interest and concern, things that I want to dig out of the depths of my inner world and reveal to the viewer. This instrument is of great importance to me and, for many years of working with it, has become an integral part of everyday life to the point that I cannot imagine my existence without it.

Besides, one of the main sources of thoughts and ideas behind my work is the feeling of confrontation. This feeling certainly goes back to the history of my family in relation to the Soviet authorities, and I, so to speak, followed up on it in the post-Soviet period. I felt this very clearly during my studies in the UK due to the exposure to an opposite value system and an appreciation of the mental and moral differencies. As a result, I gained understanding of how important and relevant for my opposition stance were such topics as the history of the political past and the present and the theme of challenging the system and current realities of the consumer society. I reflect on the time that we live in and talk about those things that matter and are significant for the present reality. The visuality of modern society has always extremely attracted me and been inspiring for my work. This is where images, compositional solutions and color relations are born. Color itself is of major importance, and often the emotional perception of color or a color contrast becomes the starting point for an idea or concept as a kind of association with specific events, insights, and impressions.

Alan Khatagti

I would call it the moment when you come up with a new visual image. All of a sudden, you see how a pictorial three-dimensional object can express and embody an idea, a thought or a meaning that has come across your mind. As if a new object comes into existence and helps the idea to take shape and substance and to become a part of the material world. No matter accepted or rejected, understood or misinterpreted, the idea goes on with its own life in objective reality.

What inspires me is life. The interaction of a person with the world around him, his perception of himself and the environment. A reflective person with his self assessment, on the one hand, and the transcendent reality beyond his control, on the other. My interest lies in visually expressing this collision. The collision of the Man, his actions, desires, fantasies — and the living breath of the Unknowable.

Ieva Caruka

Ideally, I want my work to follow the same line as it used to when I was a child: to draw and to talk at the same time. To regain that perception of myself and the world around.

My work will never be dominated by a concept. I believe that the history of man, his image bearing world is so rich, diverse and contradictory that it can not fit into the boundaries of one word or a concept. Our thoughts, the palette of our emotions can dramatically change in a minute — that’s why I like the live line, a sort of a shepherd’s song in the desert, what you see is what you sing. I guess I'm centuries behind....

Nadezhda Anfalova

Speaking of creativity, I have to say that I have many different sides in me. I think that a modern painter must always be on the watch out for new impressions, should travel and look around as much as possible. He needs an understanding that he is not anything but a small part of a huge world: there he is but then there are other very talented creative people around. As a matter of fact, the profession of an artist is sort of presumptuous and self-conceited to a point of easily depraving the mind and the soul. The idea that you are the one and the best, that nobody is just smart enough to understand you is so readily available and so compelling that you quickly learn to live with it. In practice, you can hardly find anything that has not been done a thousand times before you... With that, when I put my experience and emotions into my work, it becomes my personal message to the viewer. Virtually any subject gives an artist a chance to reveal yet another facet of himself and to experiment with a new technique, light, and sound.

Natalia Maltseva

Viewers often wonder what prompted the artist to make this or that painting. To anticipate the question about my paintings from this collection, I would like to tell you of an episode that happened to me in the late 80s. Some buyers from Poland hesitated over choosing a painting and asked me why my works were so different. Without thinking twice, I said that one of the paintings was made after I went to buy groceries and failed to find sausage and the other one, which appeared more cheerful, panned out because that time shopping went well. They did appreciate the joke and had no more questions on inspiration any longer.

Eugenia Golant

I took art studies for quite a while until at some point I began to feel that too much schooling kills the artist, if only because the traditional school requires a lot of technical drawing from nature. Then, one day in 2005, we decided to make an exhibition of paintings of a local produce market. When I came to the marketplace with a sketchbook and canvas, I was surrounded by some cheerful and boisterous people. One vendor even composed a poem for me, another gave me some fruit and would call me Pirosmani, the third came up with a name for my style that he said was "brute", and the fourth got so upset with his portrait I had to flee. Since then, an atmosphere, an aura of the place and a spontaneous response you get from people have become a major part of my work. Besides, I realized that the interaction between an artist and a model was the most valuable thing for me and that the arousing tension was an inherent part of the creative process. Surrounding reality becomes a breeding ground and I turn into a sponge absorbing and transforming it. And sometimes I have a feeling that I draw practically with my eyes rather than by hand. Often this kind of creative process means strange, at times, dicey company.

Lauris Ozols 

I do not like “art”. I do not like “artists”. I believe that everyone is an “artist”. I understand that this is 4th sentence I started with I.. and it is for a reason. I am afraid I do not paint to make world a better place., or share “my inner world” with others.. I just do it to remain sane. We are all selfish. and thats OK.

Life is amazing.

Everything around me that creates “feels” (feelings) is inspiration now: perfectly developed neverpooping Facebook girl profiles; retired, most likely well respected, western sugar daddies with their fifteen year old boyfriends in local cafes; the way the hypocritical hippy-world-explorer guy eats his McDonalds burger right in front of me… or maybe just a nice sunrise at 5am over beautiful smoggy “City of Angels” skyline .. I find inspiration in everything that makes me feel. From my early personal works I only like the paintings that were done primarily with “feels”.. mind was a destructive force. I could never fix or improve my works after the initial craze of emotion escaped however lately I have been trying to tame the mind and let it work with “feels”. Also there is still a lot of Marriage Counselling that needs to be done to reach the iron union. 

I have been lucky with having right people around me at right time to speed the process up.

Gafur Mendagaliev

Whenever a strive for work and creation combines with a passion for art, a person turns into a single whole. He becomes like a pyramid above the world and lightning bolts of inspiration jolt him at any time hitting on the top of the pyramid and energizing each thing made by the artist.

Irina Birulya

Characters of my paintings may be anything but… people. I am not as interested in live models. My true interest is to search for dramatic conflicts, to reveal personality, to guess histories of old things, or to unveil shades of mood of Petersburg’s shaft-like courtyards, roofs, old-time gates, and splendid buildings barely discernible through fog or snowfall... But then, I think that in fact my paintings are full of people. It is only that they... have just left the table under an old greenish shade, have just milled coffee in that old hand-mill, for many years have been sitting behind that sewing machine or putting carefully that muzzle on a dog before going for a walk...

Natalia Spechinskaya

I'm not sure that an artist should or can explain the nature of his inspiration. Basically, almost anything can inspire, the least expected setting may spark off an aesthetic response.

Absolutely different circumstances, or better yet, their successful confluence, as well as an emotional drama, can be strong motivators. One can get inspired when visiting an exhibition or browsing online pictures, by the plastic of a human body or by an industrial landscape. I am extremely inspired by the energy contained in sudden incidental things — a stain of rust, a leak of paint, a color. Beyond doubt, the most important thing for me is the color. It is my instrument of choice to express emotions and to convey meanings.

Nadezhda Kosinskaya

Inspiration comes in different ways... Impulses from the outside world. Impressions, both external and internal. Feelings. Dreams. Strong emotions. Anxiety. All these are sublimated into clear visual images. There is a need for expression. The theme of a human being... the image of a human being. Simple subjects. A picture suddenly appears in my mind and I draw it.

Ilgvars Zalans

I focus on the creation of images and motifs that are archetypical by nature, universal in human experience, crystal clear for everybody, and are not determined by any social group. Perhaps that is the reason I take great pleasure in working in whatever part of the world that at the moment seems to be the most dynamic, rich in ideas, and promising in the eyes of the contemporary art community. Since 2008, the Southeast Asia — Malaysia and China, Indonesia and Japan, Korea and the Philippines — is the essence of my palette and the direction of my artistic search.

Tatyana Podmarkova

At my studies, when we drew from life, I used to have a feeling that the sitter would suddenly stand up and leave, or that the sun would suddenly be down when we worked in the open air. That sort of a fitful feeling of elusiveness and unsteadiness. André Breton had the expression: "La beauté sera convulsive ou ne sera pas. Beauty will be convulsive or will not be at all." This is said about an image that can not be retained, as everything changes, transforms and disappears. I'm inspired in this sense by the human body, I'm interested in a form that can change. And I am excited with the very process of working with a model when I can separate the "physical" from the person. At this moment I think about the fact that people have bodies that they control.

Humberto Diaz

An artist’s mind works mysteriously. In my case, inspiration comes in the most unexpected and funny ways. No matter how hard I try to force myself to sit down at the studio and do some work, most of the time it just does not work like that. I get many of my ideas when I am somehow relaxed, either at the beach, or when making love, or in my dreams. I remember one dream I had: I was visiting an exhibition and was amazed by an installation on show. Everybody around started talking, congratulating me for the magnificent piece I have made. I woke up to immediately draw it in my sketchbook before I forgot it. I try to give new substance to apparently meaningless things. It might be an object or a situation from daily life that catches my attention. I just put it aside for a while and it stays at the back of my mind until it makes perfect sense in combination with something else.

 

contemporary art
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