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Marina Shavlovskaya and her path to freedom through art

Updated: Mar 24, 2023

Marina Shavlovskaya was born in Belarus, where she received an art education according to the strict canons of academism. In 2011, because of her political views, fleeing from the Lukashenka regime, Marina was forced to leave her homeland. In the free European city of Gdańsk in Poland, she graduated from the Academy of Arts, where Marina rediscovered the benefits of independent creativity. Marina Shavlovskaya is an experienced artist who skillfully combines the strict laws of academism with bold modern methods.

YV: In your creative activity, you return to your roots, using patterns and symbols of Slavic mythology, combining them with modern image techniques, this gives a certain visual effect and makes an impression on the viewer. Tell me, please, where did such an interest in Slavic culture come from?

Marina Shavlovskaya: I was born and raised in Belarus. Since childhood, I have listened to fairy tales and legends about Slovenian Gods. Symbols and ornaments protect and adorn Belarusian houses till today. I was imbued with pagan culture. I believe that myths and legends, symbols and ornaments are undoubtedly the great treasures of the past. Paganism explains natural and cosmic phenomena, answers many vital questions, and is an inseparable part of culture and history.

YV: Works from the Fusion collection reflect the sophistication and beauty of familiar academic images such as Venus, David and Graces, executed with modern stencil techniques, often used in street art. What inspired you to create such multifaceted works?

Marina Shavlovskaya: Good question. I think that we need to start from the very beginning and answer the question of why I decided to be an artist?

In early childhood, I had health problems. I underwent several operations and as a result I could not walk and was literally bedridden for a couple of years. Drawing was one of the few things I enjoyed at the time. This was noticed by my parents. Later they enrolled me in painting courses and I entered an art school where I studied classical academic painting. I fell madly in love with socialist realism. I gained knowledge of the basics of classical drawing and painting. Today I think it was a wonderful experience.

In 2011, I was forced to immigrate to Poland because of my political views. I entered the Academy of Arts in Gdańsk, where I rediscovered painting. At first, it was insanely difficult for me to break my academic vision. Looking at art from a different angle. I'm used to realism. The way of teaching in Belarus was tough, there were a lot of rules and everything was shackled into frames. In Poland, when I got this freedom in painting, I was not ready, I was confused, but over time, I pulled myself together and began to learn to draw again, in my own way. The basis is academicism, then, of course, freedom of expression. This is how the images of Venus, David and Graces appeared on my canvases, but already in a completely different modern form.

YV: Was there any idea behind the creation of this collection?

Marina Shavlovskaya: Certainly. The collection is dedicated to the theme of Slavic culture. Characteristic elements are: figures, symbols and ornaments. In these works, I express my fascination with the world of Slavic myths and want to invite viewers on a journey into the rich world of legends and symbols still living in Belarusian culture.

YV: Back to the Fusion collection, the works are made in fairly large formats (200x125 cm) and in an expressive manner. On the other hand, your further collection, made with the linoleum engraving technique, provides for precision, scrupulousness and painstaking performance. Is mastering such radically different techniques responsible for you as a versatile artis? Can you tell us what influences the choice of technique for creating these artworks?

Marina Shavlovskaya: I always try to be not only a versatile artist, but also a multifaceted person. My inner state is a key factor when I am choosing a depiction technique. As I said, painting for me is absolute freedom of expression, euphoria and dysphoria, unlimited spectrum of emotions. I allow myself the most daring, vivid gestures. But there comes a moment of devastation and I need peace of mind. Linocut is a great way to relax. Meticulous, monotonous work relaxes me and brings me into a state of meditation.

YV: If you were offered to instantly master one of the image techniques in art, which you do not possess now, what would it be and why?

Marina Shavlovskaya: Lithography - type of print; a method in which ink is transferred under pressure from a flat printing plate to paper. This technique was perfectly mastered by Alphonse Mucha, Salvador Dalí and even Pablo Picasso. Excellent performance, allows you to reproduce many magnificent works in different colours from one matrix.

YV: Another collection characterized by a certain expressive style "Flowers like space", the works of this cycle are reminiscent of the "Flower cycle" by the famous American artist of the period of modernism Georgia O'keeffe. Has the work of this artist influenced the creation of this collection?

Do such works as “The Bloody Rose of Feminity”, “Pink Purity”, “Flower of Space” have erotic overtones?

Marina Shavlovskaya: Definitely yes. Her rich, bright canvases cannot leave the audience indifferent. At the beginning of the work on the collection “Flowers like space” I was inspired by the paintings of O'keeffe, her sensual and sexy images, but then I was absolutely fascinated by the colour, which conveyed my emotional state. A positive mood was expressed on the canvas in warm, rich colours, when negative emotions overwhelmed me, cold daring colours came. All this kaleidoscope of feelings and emotions is surprisingly harmoniously reflected in the paintings of this collection.

YV: I want to touch on the topic of abstraction, in different periods of your work the line of abstraction can be clearly traced in its various forms from Suprematism to Abstract expressionism. What is your personal relationship to abstract art?

Marina Shavlovskaya: For me, abstraction is the music of painting. At the moment of creating my abstract works, I do not control the process itself, I like to succumb to the wave of inspiration. When something leads you, the canvas and paints tell you what to do. I merge with the process, it is an incredible spiritual experiences.

YV: How do you think contemporary art will develop in the near future? And, if you can, please share your creative plans.

Marina Shavlovskaya: Art went through different stages of transformation. I can assume that technology will be the familiar tools of contemporary artists, and digital art may become defining. On the other side of the coin, art is as unpredictable as life itself ...

As for my future, in my work I do not adhere to any specific plan. I trust the Universe will show me the right way.


Do you like Marina's works? Her latest painting is available for purchase through our gallery.

Get to know her work and contact us if you are interested in buying her paintings.

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