From Russia with Love: Maria Magenta's Figuratives
Rise Art Prize 2018 finalist Maria Magenta lives for painting the human body. When Rachael Thomas, the Senior Curator and Head of Exhibitions at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, saw Maria's work up at our Rise Art Prize finalist exhibition, she was moved. "Maria Magenta’s poetic and evocative works not only exquisitely portray a human presence, but they also convey a sense of questioning of the human condition," Rachael has said. "Through delicate use of pattern and composition, these works capture a mood out of time."
Maria was born in Germany and moved to Russia with her family as a child. She showed artistic flair from a young age, and by the time she hit high school Maria had her sights firmly set on the prestigious State Academic Art Institute in Moscow. Although she was discouraged from pursuing a career in art, nothing could deter the young Russian artist from following her dream. Now she’s a member of the Moscow Union of Artists and holds a gold medal from the Russian Academy of Arts.
Painting from life has become Maria’s raison d'être and her poetic, large-scale figuratives have made their mark in solo shows in Cannes, Moscow, Prague and Monaco. Here in London, her piece Rest (below) wowed spectators at our inaugural Rise Art Prize Finalist Exhibition earlier this year.
What did it mean to you to be a Rise Art Prize 2018 finalist?
I was really proud (and surprised!) to get the announcement that I was a Rise Art Prize finalist. It was unexpected, but I was thrilled.
When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
I won some watercolours as a child when I entered a painting competition, and when the judge complimented my work it gave me faith in myself. I decided then and there that I wanted to be an artist. Sometimes a word of praise from someone special can inspire you for the rest of your life.
During high school I prepared for the difficult entrance exams for the Moscow State Academic Art Institute. I studied anatomy and drew skeletons, nudes and casts of greek sculptures. My parents and school teachers didn’t approve of my choice, but I decided I wasn’t going to live by other people’s expectations.
My dream came true when I got into art school. For 6 years I spent my days painting nudes and studying philosophy, aesthetics and art history. It was the happiest time of my life.
What appeals to you about the human figure and about painting from life?
There is something deep and mysterious about the process of painting a live model. There’s this powerful invisible contact between model and artist, a silent bond. As the artist, you enter a kind of state that’s beyond words. It’s this state of pure absorption in the human body that I crave.
Tell us about your studio - what do you love about it?
My studio doesn’t look like your average artist’s studio. I don’t like creative mess (although I have nothing against it!). My studio is clean and everything is in its proper place, almost like a woman’s dressing table.
I like beautiful things… Beautiful watercolour boxes, scented candles and even the odd bottle of perfume. I can’t say my home is in the same state, but my studio is a special place and when I create my art I need to work in an ordered space.
Do you have a favourite inspirational quote?
I love Picasso’s sayings. One of my favourites is, “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working”.