Chased Magazine: Interview with Maria Naidyonova

Chased: You seem to have a very unique style of painting. How would you describe your style and your techniques?

M.N.: As Picasso once said “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” I have gone through an intensive way of self-improvement. Starting in Kiev, where I received fundamental technical knowledge and finishing with Berlin where I grew as an artist, gained artistic freedom. Each step of my development has influenced my style that will probably keep changing. As long as I live I will be looking for something new, experimenting, trying to find more strong and sharp ways of expression. I think that when you stop making discoveries you become creatively dead. Also, what I am doing is always the reflection of what I see and experience, of the world surrounding me. My style is the language I use to hold the dialogue with the world.

Chased: You also do animated videos of your works, which is an unusual thing to do. Why did you decide to mix these different genres, and what do you want to show with the videos? In which way do the videos expand or maybe even change your works?

M.N.: I had a chance to show work at Mitte Media Festival, so I thought it might be fun to try to do a video work. I love to draw, so I started to experiment with animating my sketches. It was fun to be doing something familiar using a new media. I like this idea of traditional technique in a contemporary setting. In this case, digital. I think that reflects a lot of my way of thinking and how I look back to the greats in art history and try to connect classics with the contemporary.

Chased: You mainly paint people. What makes it so fascinating for you?

M.N.: People inspire me. I like to watch them. They give me the energy I use to create. I wouldn’t be able to paint if I didn’t have people surrounding me all the time.

Chased: When did you move to Berlin and why? How would you describe the Berlin art scene from your perspective?

M.N.: I was willing to change my environment, was looking for new food for reflection, further ways of creative development. Like Paris was the world’s art center at the turn of 20th century, Berlin is one of the world’s cultural centers today. It attracts artists from every corner of the world. That makes it very particular, international, diverse and free.

Chased: In your last exhibition in Berlin, a painting of you caused a lot of attention and even protests. Can you tell us a bit more about this incident?

M.N.: The painting is called “The Game,” and has two semi-nude girls and their cat playing together in a kind of surrealist utopia landscape.  I showed this piece at the final show of Weissensee Academy of Arts. There was an organized group of protesting people blocking the painting from the viewers and trying to burn it with their cigarettes. Their behaviour was shamelessly aggressive and I had to constantly turn to security for help. It went on for hours and was really exhausting.

One of the semi-nude figures in the painting is Asian, the other is White European. Some people got very angry about this. Viewers are welcome to experience works in their own way. But deciding that your personal perception is more important than everyone else’s and acting like that starts turning into censorship. I totally believe in equal rights for everyone and freedom of expression and could never imagine this incident could happen in such a multicultural metropolis as Berlin.

Chased: Your next exhibition is coming up soon at Fata Morgana Gallery in Berlin-Mitte. What will we see?

M.N.: The show at Fata Morgana is called “2018,” and will include my latest pieces and the most important ones. It will be the conclusion of this fruitful season and a nice reason to meet up before everyone goes on vacations. We are still working on the general display, but most likely it will include “The Game” mentioned above, the “Lovers” painting, successfully debuted at the NGORO NGORO II during the Gallery Weekend, as well as the “Untitled” silver work that has appeared in Munich, Berlin and New York.