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.


contemporary art
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