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”.
“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.
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.
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?
2. Hotel Des Arts, San Francisco
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.
3. Elma Hotel, Zichron Ya’akov, Israel
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.
4. Mona Pavilions, Hobart
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.
5. The Thief, Oslo
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
Choosing art with bold patterns is a great way to bring energy, movement and style to an interior. Lori Zimmer picks out her top 5 Rise Art pieces that play with pattern.
The founders of interior design and decoration practice Salvesen Graham are an art loving duo. For Nicole Salvesen and Mary Graham, art is a key player in their interiors projects. Plus they're active enthusiasts and collectors themselves. We find out more about the Salvesen Graham founders and their passion for art.
Lori Zimmer gets us excited about the upcoming Magritte exhibition at the San Fransisco MOMA. Plus we take a look at 3 Rise Art artists whose surrealist style echoes that of the Belgian master.
Photographers have been capturing the magic of the city since commercial cameras became available in the mid-1800s, and they continue to find the mystery of the urban jungle to be intriguing. We’ve rounded up a group of photographers who view the urban landscape through a unique lens.
Helen Wells uses watercolour and ink to create layered abstract works inspired by the patterns and motifs that occur in nature.
At Rise Art we believe that great art is for everybody. Discovering, enjoying and collecting art doesn’t have to be intimidating and expensive. Our Head Curator has done some digging and chosen her top art displays/events/activities currently on in London, New York and Hong Kong - and they won’t cost you a cent.
Ellie Armstrong reviews Cape Town's Zeitz MOCAA, the largest contemporary art museum in Africa.