I am originally from St. Petersburg, Russia, where I had my formative introduction to arts and culture. Growing up in that environment I was surrounded by two artistic worlds; the great Russo-European traditions of the city’s museums, architecture, and performing arts, but also the underground cultural explosion that came with the end of the Cold War – rockers, hippies, and a youthful fascination with the ‘new.’
Since I left Russia in the early 1990s, I have developed in several directions across different places. I spent a few years near London in the UK, before moving to Birmingham, Alabama for six years. It was in Birmingham that my art-making began to shape up. Maybe because of the studio courses at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, or maybe because of the southern charm?
Since 2002, I have lived and worked in the Washington, DC area. I have painted, photographed, and completed a master’s degree at Georgetown, studying cultural diplomacy and Cambodian cultural regeneration. In terms of artistic inspiration, DC is the great place as it’s full of diverse people, world-renowned museums, and space to breathe. In addition to Washington, DC, I spend a lot of time in Paris and Brittany with my family, soaking up French arts, culture, and the joie-de-vivre along the way!
I have always been creative, but it has taken a long build to get to where I am now. At the age of 15, I bought a box of oil paints and started painting on any surface that I could find: cardboard, broken guitar backs, or vinyl. I haven’t had a moment of a single transformative art school, but I’ve learned from great talents throughout – at the UAB; at the Corcoran College of Art and Design; in the Maroger studio of artist Robert White; and by seeing countless exhibitions and museums I visit no matter where I go.
Over the years, I’ve worked in different mediums: narrative drawing, abstraction, photography and design, but am currently settled on a rooting in the Old Dutch Masters’ still lifes, with modern interpretation. These days I create vivid depictions of simple objects, which often convey much richer meaning than the elaborate. The style requires a large amount of layering, time, and patience, but ultimately it’s incomparable as a way of depicting still life. Making the still life (nature-morte) alive. My work expressly balances seriousness and humor, elegance and simplicity, tradition and modernity – it picks up the breezes from travel, theatre literature, and food.
My inspiration is mainly in slowing down the fast pace of society and zooming in to objects with a certain meaning. I seek out and depict possible objects of desire, beauty and satisfaction – sometimes in the overtly beautiful, and often in the mundane. Candy and toys receive the same attention as fine porcelain figurines, capable of attracting the willing eye and triggering lighthearted memories and pleasure.
When preparing for a show, I tend to look for a common theme which can be explored through different objects. One of my series, Candy and Mementoes, explores the nostalgia and tactile charm that people have for childhood candy. The other, the Arabian Nights, interprets the tales from One Thousand and One Nights, merging the cultural traditions of the East and the West.
You can find my work on my website at annakatalkina.com.
See two of Anna’s paintings in Main Street Arts’ fourth annual “Small Works” exhibition (juried by Cory E. Card, former curator at View Arts Center in Old Forge, NY). The exhibition runs through January 4, 2018. Anna’s piece, “Clay Duck and White Jellybeans” received a juror’s choice award for the exhibition!