Anna Sudbina | Where Abstract & Figurative Meet
Anna was born in Moscow in 1984. She came of age in the post-Soviet Russia where apart from doing academic drawing and painting she studied linguistics, philosophy, and psychology. She continued her art training at Central Saint Martins. We catch up with Anna to discuss her life as an artist and how recent motherhood has affected her practice.
Your work shifts between the figurative and the abstract. How did your practice evolve to be like this?
I am drawn to abstract art as it communicates by bypassing the words and formalised understanding of the world. It is a meditation, a pure creative output that comes entirely from within. But at the same time, I find figurative elements in my work to be a powerful tool to trigger a response. It is like working with both cerebral hemispheres.
You often describe your work as drawing on philosophical ideas, contemporary science, the infinite and the unconscious. Could you explain how these themes have come to hold such prominence in your art?
The unconscious is a huge part of the non-representational part of my work. Something you are tapping into as an artist while working and something you are addressing through the canvas presented to the viewers. The rest is down to curiosity. I was always interested in understanding both the workings of our minds and the world around us. Not so much current affairs but timeless questions and the transcendent.
As a new mother, how have you managed to spend time creating art?
Becoming a mother turns your world upside down and you lose yourself a bit. The first time I had 2 hours on my own to start a new work I faffed about so much I barely finished a pencil sketch. So motherhood forces you to become much more organised.
You also start appreciating the simple little things you took for granted - like sitting still and staring at the sky, a morning coffee ritual, a lazy afternoon. My latest series The Lightness Of Being is a collection of charming moments of dolce far niente that reflects this craving for idleness and hedonism.
Artists often find the prospect of starting a new canvas daunting, is this true with you?
You can’t be too precious with the white canvas, however perfect it is in its minimalist all-encompassing purity. I usually plan what I want to work on and gather some visual references before I approach the canvas and then start. Of course, there are moments of hesitation and self-doubt but I just remind myself I can always edit or start over. Like with the writers' block - the way out is to carry on working.
How do you push yourself to work outside your comfort zone?
Going from abstract to figurative was the biggest push in recent years. I’ve taught myself to paint a human body, technically it was definitely challenging and out of my comfort zone. I love experimenting with mark making in my abstract canvases. I’ve used vintage tools found in flea markets, feathers, clothes labels. Some really interesting textures came out of these experiments and certain developed techniques are now firmly part of my practice.
If you could own any artwork from any artist, past or present, what would it be and why?
The latest work I was obsessing about was by Pieter Vermeersch, I would love to have one of his gradients on a marble slab in my living room. I remember seeing it at Freeze for the first time and it was such an oasis of calm amongst the cacophony of visuals.