Painting, drawing, architecture, sculpture and iconography are many facets of one coherent whole which is my work. I see teaching as an integral and vital part of my process and a good reason to continuously push my boundaries.
I use formless substances to capture human souls on the flatness of my canvas. It matters little to me whether my tool is touching paper or canvas. It matters equally little if I am holding a pencil or a brush because I think of myself as a draftswoman regardless of my tools. I aspire to draft souls. My process is long and arduous. I work in indirect method, layer after layer for many layers because I find it necessary to agonize over every person until my surface becomes one with my subject, until all my preconceptions about this individual are gone, until I see this person in front of me unobstructed and unadorned. I work until I am unaware that I am not my subject. I like to agonize.
Throughout my life I have used different drawing and painting materials. At some point, however, I understood that a life-time is not enough to truly learn something. Thus I chose to focus on oil and charcoal. Both oil and charcoal are formless and completely pliable substances. I can mold them into souls. These substances do exactly what I ask them as they are willing to subvert their own will for the sake of my vision. I appreciated the synergy so we have become friends.
I find the soul somewhere in the expression of the individual’s face and hands. Everything else is armature. I ponder on the composition, research relevant history, perform preliminary studies, calibrate the proportions, solve anatomical problems, harmonize colors, construct perspective and etc. All of these tasks are a prelude and an excuse to that almost holy instance when the subject, my canvas and I will come to be one. Once I complete my prelude I stand still … and dive into the irrational and enigmatic act of finding that ineffable missing entity that will render this particular person to be true. I like to think of it as the soul. Soul doesn’t come in tubes or pencils, but the success for its search certainly depends on the integrity of my prelude. Soul tends to come some late hour when time has lost its meaning because I am myself lost in the wilderness of my search. I agonize some more and don’t stop until the flatness of my canvas is looking back at me with a stare I know, until I know who is looking at me without turning my head to see. Sometimes I fail. But I do it again, because I am not allowed to stop until I succeed. The word genius comes from Latin – it means guardian angel. I am far from a genius, but I continuously strive to do my part in the hope for his visit one timeless night.
I engage in the obsessive pursuits because my soul is thirsty for a dialogue. Sartre felt that “hell is other people.” I think Sartre was wrong – hell is the absence of The Other. Monologue is hell. I want to make sure I am not in hell, my work has no other motive. Each soul that I capture I keep with me forever. Each space that I create connects me with the souls that will inhabit that space. Each icon I paint connects me with the soul of a saint. My collections of souls is my treasure, a treasure that moths could never destroy, even if it will destroy all of my work. Even when there is no-one here, I know that I am forever entitled to a dialogue.
Anastasiya was born in Ukraine and immigrated with her parents to the US when she was fourteen. She started drawing and painting in her early childhood and received a figure-based atelier training growing up. Anastasiya earned her Bachelors and Masters degrees in architecture from The Cooper Union and University of Texas at Arlington, respectively. Anastasiya has received additional training with established realist painters both privately and in workshops Anastasiya has been awarded recognition by the National Portrait Society, Connecticut Society of Portrait Artists, Wausau Museum of Contemporary Art, Poets Artists and many others. Her work is found in private collections across United States as well as Germany, Russia and Ukraine. Currently, Anastasiya is teaching design and drawing studios at the University of Texas in Arlington, in addition to workshops, and private classes, while working fervently in her studio in Dallas.
Teaching in itself is an artistic process, it allows me to crystallize and formulate things I know and discover things that I don’t. I am grateful for the ability to look for the answers together and not alone — it justifies the hours or research and experimentation and turns something monotonous into something beautiful. I dream of my students surpassing me in what they choose to pursue.
I always failed to perceive a difference between art and architecture. Both necessitate a strong idea relevant to its time. Both require the use of tools. Both operate in the visual realm. Both are a physicalized document of one’s thought. Both loose purpose without the presence of the other (viewer or inhabitant). Both require refinement and mastery of the technique. The techniques might be different, but they don’t have to be, and even if they are — it is only semantics. I believe that a good work of architecture is a piece of art; and good work of art has an architectural construct in its methodology.
The rules of iconography are very different from the traditional cannons of figurative realism and architecture, yet iconography exists in both realms. For example, iconography employs reverse perspective; also it defies the common anatomy of shadows – the forms are not lit by the external light source but rather the un-created light emanating from within the subject himself or herself. Sometimes I paint traditional icons. And sometimes I wonder at what point does one become a saint? At which point does the architectural space inverts in its perspective? The saints that I paint were living people one day and the spaces they occupied were usual spaces… I painted a living saint once… At what instance does a portrait becomes an icon? Or has portrait always been an icon from the start?