When I was a child, my father’s work meant we moved a lot and lived in many different places. At age four we were in Ufa in the USSR, and then Abu Dhabi. When I was eight we moved to Manchuria where we lived for five years. It was the late 70’s and China was vastly different than today.
In Russia and China we lived in tiny apartments that were stark and conditions were harsh. Despite the extreme cold weather, I almost always chose to spend my free time outside, wandering around. I was often feeling bored, and I believe this was the time my imaginative universe developed so deeply.
From my apartment in Liao Yang, all I could see was a road with trucks, busses, military vehicles and bicycles. Behind us was a vacant lot. No trees, no green was in sight. The people I saw wore only dark muted. It seemed my whole world was made up of grays and blacks, dark blues and a little khaki.
My connection to art at this time was rare, except when we were allowed to visit the temples or some factories. Each year we’d visit our family in Paris, and on our way back home, before taking the grueling 12 hour train ride back to Liao Yang, we’d spend a few days in Beijing where we visited the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, the Great Wall and more. I was fascinated. I also remember being mesmerized, looking at some traditional chinese paintings, featuring horses or vaporous landscapes, done in Chinese ink on rice paper..
At about age 13, my parents divorced and we moved to France. How my life changed! My mother enrolled me in the private school where she worked teaching French, Ancient Greek and Latin. The kids there were wearing brand name clothes; I was then exposed to fashion, a world I knew nothing about. For many reasons, going back to live in France was a kind of a shock for me. I felt completely out of place. In response, I shaved my head and hung out with the punk crowd. I wanted to show I was not agreeing with what was happening to me at this time. I had to re-adjust. I had to learn how to adapt to living in Europe. Sometimes, I feel I am still trying.
At 18, I left home and began my studies. I loved this time of freedom and learning, and studied Art History at the Sorbonne. After my studies, life called me East again, and I moved to Singapore where I worked for several art galleries. It was then that I was exposed to and began collecting art from SouthEast Asia.
Life continued to pull me to different parts of the globe; New York, then Pondicherry where I worked as an artists’ agent. Then back to Paris where I worked for the Fondation Cartier’s website and on to Lisbon in Portugal. While there I studied contemporary jewelry making. It was a time of great validation for me. Suddenly I realized that what I used to make as a child for my family out of shells, rocks and nature was actually a kind of art. And, I wasn’t the only one drawn to the unusual beauty.
Now I live in Basel, an amazing city in Switzerland where I can find what is important for me: Culture and Nature. Through all my travels, experiences all over the world, one constant remains. My art. I have in one way or another, always created art.
At first it was not in the idea to sell my work or even exhibit it. I was drawing, it was just my way to express myself, and a way not to think, not to become crazy. I have a language which is more archaic than the spoken words. It is painting. I communicate with emotions, not with words. I wouldn’t be able to verbally express what I say in most of my paintings.
My experience colours my work; I’m especially drawn to women and their roles in society, and am enthralled by how humans interact with each other and with nature. Sometimes it is beautiful, sometimes painful. There is no hierarchy. Humans, animals, plants, they all have the same dignity of existence.
In my work, you will see weird people, that is to say people who don’t follow traditional beauty standards. My figures may have two heads, or spots all over. They aren’t symmetrical. This reflects life and how we are all broken inside.
There have been times in my life when I have tried not to paint. I told myself it was useless, that I have children to care for, things more important to do. I told myself art was a luxury and that it was not a priority. I told myself my art was rubbish. But I couldn’t stop.
So now, finally, I happily surrender to my art. After caring for my children, living all over the world, starting over again and again, it is time. I am devoting myself to what I have always wanted to do. Somewhere deep inside, even in those times of doubt, of trying to push art away, part of me always knew I couldn’t stop. It is my world. Now I create and share with people who want to live in this world with me.