Expats in Riga has made an interview with Anastasia Sysoeva about her passion for drawing.
ER: Anastasia, please, tell, when did you start to be interested in art? I suppose that it started approximately at times when you had been studying at Pushkin lyceum, during last years of school. Or did it happen earlier?
АS: I think that I have been drawing always, as all kids are doing this. But yes, a more conscious occupation with drawing has overlapped my admission to the lyceum, maybe at 8th form. At lyceum a couple of my exhibitions was even organised in the school room of a history of world art culture. This all happened because of Elena Ermolaeva, the lecturer of this course, who I am grateful for this.
ER: Please, tell, have you received an art education or did you learn everything on your own?
AS: I have only a diploma form Riga art school. But in general I have learned everything independently.
ER: What has become the starting point for your graphic works, while you were studying at lyceum and attending lectures on history of world art culture? I remember that you did beautiful graphics.
AS: Lectures on history of world art culture have influenced indeed! And in general, most probably, it was the lyceum and its creative atmosphere. I remember I did illustrations for the books that I was reading. And I read a lot. Actually, reading as a necessity is still with me. In the morning instead of coffee (or together with it) I obligatory need a book, in order to start a new day. Now I create illustrations very rarely.
ER: What happened after the graduation from lyceum? Did you draw or just studied?
AS: After graduation from secondary school I was admitted to the Academy of Culture. Actually, I was also accepted to the Art Academy, to the faculty of art history as well as to the University of Latvia, but I have chosen Academy of Culture finally. While I was studying, I drew a lot, but for myself mainly. But my bachelor’s work includes illustration of course.
ER: Did you create artworks in time between the graduation from secondary school and the thematics, which predominates in your works now?
AS: I drew a lot with ink, brush or a drawing pen. Oriental motives appeared earlier as well. There was a time which I have spent some in Japan and got inspired, of course.
ER: When did you start to create artworks in Japanese style more seriously?
AS: A couple of years ago, after a 10-year long break I have visited Japan again. When I have returned from the journey, I understood that I have to engage in something traditionally oriental. Exatly then I have noticed a master-class on painting a sakura tree branch in Japanese style. So I thought that it is the thing I need! This way I got to to Ekaterina Bai (Belyaeva) studio of oriental art “The flying brush”.
ER: How is it called (the style)?
AS: Talking about the technique, it is gunbi, which means “a thorough brush: if translated to English. This technique belongs to the Chinese school of realistic painting, since it was invented earlier than others. It is opposed to a free expressive style 小寫意 [se-i] – “the painting of an idea”. But I often deviate from canons and mix something.
ER: Where have you learned it for the first time?
AS: I have learned it at Ekaterina’s studio “Thw flying brush”. During the lockdowns we had regular lessons in Zoom. I haven’t missed any.
ER: What inspires you? Where do the stories for your artworks come from?
AS: Last time, it is something seasonal. The tulips are in blossom, for example, so I draw them ).
ER: What does the text on the stamp, which you use for signing your works, mean?
AS: The signature stamps contains the text 飛燕展翅 – flying nightingale spreads its wings. The text is in Chinese. Ekaterina Pavlova, a specialist in Chinese language, has helped me with the translation. I wanted the text to contain something about the nightingale, while an idea about the wings was born in a course of a discussion.
ER: You have exhibited your works. Please, tell in more detail about this. How many exhibitions did you have in total?
AS: I had a personal exhibition last year at art studio IDEALIST in Berga Bazars. The name of it was “Red petals”. Series of 12 artworks was exposed at the exhibition, which were the variations on a theme of classic Japanese prints, created in other technique though, namely, gunbi. So, the Chinese and the Japanese mix together in my artworks and flows from one to another. I also participated in three group exhibitions of Chinese painting at Chinese cultural center of Riga national library.
ER: Besides visual arts, you write a poetry. What is more important for your – a painting or a poetry?
AS: To be honest, I don’t know. It seems that the visual art wins over the poetry, but the latter is always nearby. Actually, the works from my exhibition were always complimented by my haiku.
ER: What plans do you have for the nearest future? Is any exhibition to be expected?
AS: So far there are no specific plans in this sense. I need to accumulate more Works, which would be united by a common line. But I would be glad to organise an exhibition, I really liked it ).
ER: Is it possible to buy your works?
AS: Yes, of course, almost all works from the exhibition have already found a new home, while the geography is quite substantial.
ER: Do you teach drawing? Have you ever tried to work as a private drawing teacher?
AS: I never taught, except for drawing lessons during studies at lyceum as a part of pedagogical practice, but this doesn’t count ).
ER: And the last. What would you recommend to Rigans and Riga guests, as well as those who have come here for living quite recently – which places in Riga are worth visiting in order to get in touch with Japanese theme?
AS: In Pardaugava, on Maza Nometnu street there is marvelous Japanese garden created by landscape architect from Kobe, a Japanese sister city of Riga. I strongly recommend this place! And of course, everyone knows about sakura trees, which will be in blossom soon (Pardaugava park – comment by ER). So, let’s meet under the shade of sakura trees ).
ER: Thank you and good luck!
The cover photo by: Eugene Sysoev