Remaining an artist: the art of Alexandra Suvorova

Alexandra’s work is deep and compelling, both technically stunning and also intellectually stimulating. I was drawn to her “Forbidden Garden” series of paintings, which are beautifully rendered still life oil works of gorgeous flowers and insects, with the centerpeices being human organs such as the brain, lungs, etc. It was interesting and a unique way to see the beauty of the human body separate from conciousness. Alexandra is from Russia but now resides in London. She has won many awards for her work and exhibits around the world. She also has a background working in a theatre as a costume and set designer, which can be seen in the evidence of dramatic lighting and composition in her work! Please enjoy the interesting interview from the artist.

“I believe that my entire life is possible to describe by Picasso’s words – ”Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up”. I became interested in art very early. When I was 5, my parents brought me to an art school, and I found it incredibly adventurous to explore life by art. Furthermore, being an adult, I still find it incredibly interesting or even more enthralling than in childhood.

“As an artist, I am fascinated by the aesthetic of imperfect bodies and flesh.I like to explore how a body works and what it consists of by the visual language of painting.  However, I am not so concerned about the flesh itself, but related issues like immortality and cloning of human organs, death and the vulnerability of the flesh, sexual and gender relationships, as well as the relationship between body and mind. 
For example, My last series “Forbidden garden” is an artist discourse on immortality, future of medicine and vulnerability of human flesh.  In this series of artworks, a human body is the allegory of Eden Garden where humans lost their immortality. I associate bodies and inner organs with closed garden with beautiful fruits and flowers inside we aren`t allowed entry into and see.  Also, I compare the Eden Garden with the experimental laboratories where scientists make attempts to grow up human organs. So we have a possibility to gain the immortality we lost in the heavenly garden. Both Eden and laboratory are forbidden territories, both are connected with the topic of immortality. It is a kind of a circle I am curious about and like to reflect on. 

Also, I explore the topic of vulnerability and death but in another context in a series  ”Blindness”. These artworks are devoted to the problem of the extinction of rare species in recent years.

I created paintings depicting the skulls of these animals as white rhino, quagga or Javan tiger. In addition, I also made sketches of the same animals on transparent sheets of Plexiglas.

When viewed at a certain angle with one eye closed, the images of the living animals and their skull align according to the rules of perspective. Closing one eye is a symbol of the effort we must make to conserve biodiversity. We need to escape our comfort zone and sacrifice something of ourselves for nature. In addition, this act of viewing is a symbol of our blindness, when, unfortunately, people often do not want to see the problems of the world. “

“Being interested in the topic of gender and sexuality as well as in the theme of the relationship between body and mind, I created a series ” Bounded”. Upon seeing the ”Shibary” technique for the first time, I was thrilled by such obvious illustration of the connection between our mind and body. When our body is tied, our nervous system sends a special signal to our brain about the inability to move, inability to react to any situation around at this moment. Brain rids off any responsibilities for its decisions at this moment and relaxes, it feels kind of euphoria. Usually, The euphoria lasts about 2-4 minutes, but it is enough for a complete refresh. This practice is used to cure depression and anxiety, especially among women, who were overwhelmed, for example, mothers of 4 or business ladies.”Bounded” was a kind of experiment between painting, performance and biology.

All the models are the women I know personally, they are my friends. I bound them and did sketches. After the session, we discussed their experience and how they felt during and after posing. All of them mentioned a relief from anxiety and feeling of a mental refresh. As the main idea of this project, I could say that the ropes became protection, and the process of creating art became a therapy.
These are three recent projects I would like to mention. All of them are connected with the topics such as the vulnerability, the aesthetics of flesh, and the beauty of imperfection.

“I always admired the old masters, and I like using their strictly phased system to create my large canvases. In my work, I strictly follow their technique. I do a compositional sketch for each work, or I do a small abstract collage just for the right compositional and tonal decision-formula. Next stage is a drawing, then a grisaille in a brown-white tone, like old masters like Bronzino or Titian did. Only after that, if necessary, I apply layers of colour. This very laborious technique creates the effect of naturalness of the flesh. Also, it makes possible to enlarge fragmentation and the creation of the large-size paintings.    

” I love to include elements of installations and play with different materials in my projects. Art installations are a very essential idea for me as I’m also a designer-artist in a theatre, and working with space and a vast selection of materials is at the core of this profession.  For example, I put a  transparent layer of fabric with written interviews of my models over the paintings with their bodies in series ”Vulnerable”. Sometimes I play with space as in project ”Psychogeography” where a person stays in the middle of paper art object which means a cocoon. I believe that mixing media and materials make art more full, complex, and sophisticated on the one hand, and it helps to enhance the impression on the other hand.

“I hope that people can feel something special for themselves in my art, which makes them resonate with it. Although I believe that this connection is very personal and the reaction impossible to predict or guess, so I create my art for myself, and I work on the topics, I like to explore for myself.

” In the recent series, I have been inspired by the works of Jane Saville and Lucian Freud, soviet artist Alexander Deineka, as well as Renaissance artists with their, collaborate technic.

” I think, there is just little influence of other media in my artworks, except books. I love reading books. The book I would like to mention in a context with my art is ”Runners”. “God hides somewhere in our bodies”- the quote from the book of Nobel Prize Laureate 2019 – Olga Tokarczuk. This idea is very close to my last series “ Forbidden garden”.  As well as her ideas about the relationship between people and animals resonate with my ”Blindness” series. After reading this book, I clearly understand that some ideas are in the air, and I am on the right way.

“Also, I’m very glad that someone else in the world has similar ideas with mine, and this someone else put them in a proper literature form.   
Since I have moved to London recently, I need to start everything from scratch. I have already found a studio of my dream where I work. I quit my day job and work on art full time. I study podcasting and digital media. Although, there are a lot of things I plan to do for the development of my art career. First of all, I am planning to get to the gallery, working with contemporary painting. I dream about such galleries as Victoria Miro gallery, Goodman gallery or James Freeman gallery.  Secondly, I`m up to start an art podcast, where I am going to speak from an artists` but not art historians` or curators` points of view. I`d like to make it in simple and easy language to understand and represent what artists really think while creating their art. As well I am going to teach because the technical skills I’ve received is quite rare in our times and I’d like to share them. This is my plan for the next three years. Afterwards, my plan is to work with the museum institutions. This is the real aim I want to get and I am not afraid to work hard on it.

“I enjoy a stage of creating artwork but not a stage when I need to expose it. I love to spend time in my studio, thinking about the idea, stretching the canvas or painting. For example, if I feel bad, or I am upset I need to work, and I would feel much better after. My work gives me a feeling of a meaningful life.

“Art for me is a necessary condition for existence, on the one hand, and the protection from external conditions, on the other hand. It is the facility with which I explore life.”

See Alexandra Suvorova’s artwork on her website at

Article by Jessica Libor, artist and director of Era Contemporary. Enter our first Artist Prize by May 1 to win a solo show in December 2020 and $300 prize. Click here to enter.

Published by Jessica Libor

I am an artist.

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