From Russia with Love: Maria Magenta's Figuratives

Posted in In the Studio by Aimee Morris on 19th June 2018

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 in front of a new work inspired by Frida Kahlo.


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.


On the patchwork quilt by Maria Magenta

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.


Rest by Maria Magenta


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.


Maria in front of On the patchwork quilt.


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.


Greek era by Maria Magenta.


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.


Siesta by Maria Magenta


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.


Silver Interior by Maria Magenta


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”.


Browse Maria's Works >>


5 Hotshot Hotels Putting Art First

Posted by Antoinette Genevieve on 14th June 2018

“If you think the museum should be a white box, then I suppose you might see it that way, but art through the centuries has been displayed in baroque palaces and in churches, and people don’t say that takes away from it.”

This quote by renowned Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid touches on the increasing enthusiasm for bringing art into unorthodox spaces - like hotels. Great art isn't limited to the gallery or museum. Ambitious artists around the world are creating exceptional art and putting it in unexpected places.


MONA at sunrise. Photo by Jesse Hunniford. Image courtesy of the artist and MONA Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia.


Over the last 10 years, high end hotels have started to build exciting collections of original art by established and emerging talent alike. Classical art, furniture and decor have been standard features in top hotels over the years, but there’s a new focus in the hospitality industry on giving art more prominence and showcasing more groundbreaking work.


The Horse Thief by Richard Prince hanging in the lobby of The Thief, Oslo. 

Photo by Mattias Hamrén & Jason Strong.


Around the world, hotels are opting for original, eye-catching and mood-enhancing art that will inspire their guests. Here’s a curated selection of 5 hotels around the globe that have some breathtaking art.


1. Hotel Saint George, Marfa



A little town in the middle of nowhere Texas has made quite the name for itself in the art world. Marfa is bursting with cultural activities and the Hotel Saint George is an exceptionally cool, art-focused way to begin your foray into this artsy village. Did we mention they also have a super hip in-house bookstore?


Inside Hotel Saint George. Photo by Casey Dunns.


2. Hotel Des Arts, San Francisco


One of the spectacular rooms in Hotel Des Arts, San Fransisco.


No list of arty hotels would be complete without this iconic San Francisco establishment. Hotel Des Arts gives guests an intimate and immersive art experience. We’re talking funky wall murals that wrap around the bedroom. 


Gallery wall in one of the Hotel Des Arts suites.


3. Elma Hotel, Zichron Ya’akov, Israel


The Elma exterior. Photo by Gili Merin.


The Elma is both an arts centre and luxury hotel. Their mission is built on the belief that “when you stay with art, the art stays with you long after you leave.” 4 artist studios onsite give artists the opportunity to work in residency, while a set of exhibition halls called the Elstein Galleries showcase exciting work by artists from Israel and around the globe.


Sculpture at the Elma Hotel.


4. Mona Pavilions, Hobart


Esmond Pavilion, one of the luxury dens at Mona. Photo by Rémi Chauvin.

Image courtesy of Mona, Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia


What can be said about Mona that hasn’t already been said? It’s an exceptional art and architecture journey Every room - sorry “luxury den” - is named after an influential Australian architect and features artwork from the Mona collection. For breathtaking views of Aussie art and architecture, on the one hand, and the River Derwent, on the other, book a stay at Mona.


Unseen Seen by James Turrell 2017. Photo by Jesse Hunniford.

Image courtesy of the artist and MONA Museum of Old and New.


5. The Thief, Oslo


The Thief exterior.


As if this hotel wasn’t cool enough already, with pieces by the likes of Sir Peter Blake and Andy Warhol, it has its own curator. Enjoy a drink at the rooftop bar and then head downstairs to The Thief Art Space, which showcases art by emerging contemporary artists making a name for themselves in Norway. 


Exhibition at The Thief Art Space.


From the Rice Fields of Thailand to the Museums of London: How This Artist Made It

Posted by Aimee Morris on 07th June 2018

Artist Ta Thimkaeo grew up in rural Thailand, and once thought that there was more chance of her walking on the moon than becoming an artist. She had the lucky chance to be educated until she was 12, and although she never saw it in her sights when she was a child, art was in her blood and it was written in her stars. A difficult start in life has not held Ta back, and today she sells her characterful figurative paintings to collectors worldwide. Discover her story and find out the symbol of an egg.


Ta with Egg boy in red.


What was it like growing up in Thailand?

I came from an impoverished farming family but I was lucky enough to go to school until age 12, whereas many other children had to leave earlier to start working. After school I worked in the rice fields and then in a sweatshop in Bangkok. I spent the second half of my adolescence driving a pickup truck 7 days a week selling vegetables.


The Jazz Players


When did you know you wanted to become an artist?

While I was working in the shirt factory in Bangkok I went for a walk and came across an art studio where an old man was painting. After watching him for ages he invited me in and showed me around.


Detail of Goddess & Swan dancing in the moonlight in Ta's studio.


I loved that studio - I loved the chaos and the smell of paint. I was well and truly hooked. I didn't know how I was going to do it, but I knew one day I was going to be an artist. At the time there was probably more chance of me walking on the moon.


The lovers in a fruit garden


What are some of the influences behind your work?

Until 2012 I had never heard of Picasso, Van Gogh or any other artist. But then in 2014 I travelled to the UK and spent nearly all my time in art galleries and museums. I was like a kid in a candy store. I couldn’t believe Botticelli’s colours, Rembrandt’s use of light, the imagination of Picasso and the simplicity of L.S. Lowry.




Eggs feature in many of your paintings. Where did that idea come from?

While I was at school, I’d bring a fried egg on rice for lunch almost every day. The other kids said I’d soon start looking like a fried egg. one day I was frying an egg and thought, that would make a great face…


Large Egg Girl Flying


What do you like about your studio?

Freedom. My studio is attached to my house and a big tree outside gives me shade while I work. Beautiful butterflies and birds nearby keep me company, as do my two dogs who lie by my side.


Jazz on the beach


When I sit at my easel with my paints, brushes and palette knives, I’m in my world, with my thoughts, my feelings and a blank canvas. My feelings, like water in a river, are forever changing. I start with an idea in mind, but then it very often changes - and I love that freedom.


What are your ambitions for the future?

Many Thai people believe that when you’re born your life is mapped out for you and you can’t control your path. I never thought that - I always believed that hard work would change my life. But sometimes things do happen in a way that you haven’t planned. I discovered art by chance when I was 13, and then again when I drew a cartoon portrait of my partner when I was 38.


Goddess dreaming of her lover


I believe in my future and in art. I believe I was born for it. If someone had told me, aged 13 walking around that old man’s studio, that by this time in my career I would have sent my work to over 27 countries, I would have thought them ‘tic tong’ (crazy). But who knows maybe one day I will walk on the moon.


Browse Ta's Works >>



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