FANTAST IN FOCUS: OLGA SUVOROVA
If the Renaissance masters suddenly rose from the dead and started their own art collective, their artworks would probably look something like Olga Suvorova’s paintings. Olga’s figures resemble Elizabethan monarchs. With proud, powdered faces they look forward, glaring in silent conceit. Their costumes are loud and iridescent, evoking the extravagance of a Venetian masquerade or opera. Olga is based in Saint Petersburg, but her works have been exhibited all over the world, in places like Germany, Italy, China, and the United States. She was difficult to reach, but we finally caught up with her to learn about her specific inspirations.
The Custodian: Your paintings seem to draw a lot from the Pre-Raphaelites, Mannerists, and even a bit from the Impressionists. What are some of your other artistic influences?
Olga Suvorova: The biggest influences on my creativity are the Pre-Raphaelites. I am impressed by their high level of performance of works. [John William] Waterhouse and [Edward] Burne-Jones influenced me in terms of creating paintings on religious themes. There was a series of works: The Annunciation, The Universe, and others.
I also really like Leon Bakst, especially his sketches of theatrical costumes. Also, I must not forget [Gustav] Klimt. I appreciate his ability to depict the interaction of gold and picturesque images of specific individuals, like in the Portrait of Adele Bloch Bauer. At the same time it is very decorative. For the summer, I am living in the countryside. When I do street paintings, I often turn to Klimt, remembering his ability to illustrate nature and flowers.
I think it’s hard for people to not be touched by my paintings. They may or may not like them, but they definitely won’t confuse my works with the works of others. What’s more is that they’re sold around the world. There’s even a Kuwaiti princess who has a collection. This suggests that the art in the style of the Pre-Raphaelites is absolutely relevant worldwide in the 21st century.
C: Are you particularly fond of the Renaissance period? When I look at your work, I can’t help thinking about Dante, Boccacio, the Tuscan countryside, and Venetian Carnival.
O: I deeply admire the Italian Renaissance. It is the source for all subsequent generations of artists. Botticelli is my favourite. His drawings for Dante’s Divine Comedy inspired me to paint Piero’s Dream.
C: I also notice that many of your artworks are full of beautiful, viridescent birds like peacocks, finches, and kingfishers. All can be thought of as attributes of the element of air, but do they have a particular symbolic significance for you?
O: In my paintings I depict birds, cats and even dogs. Birds and animals also have meaning to the idea of solving the pictures.
C: What projects are you currently working on? Any upcoming exhibitions?
O: In, 2014 all my paintings were exhibited all over Italy in the travelling exhibition Russiart-Tra sogni e metafore (Between Dreams and Metaphor). For 2015, I have several planned exhibitions in China, Holland, and the USA.
You can see more of Olga’s art at the Saint Petersburg Academy of Arts Foundation.