When you're faced with one of Anna Berezovskaya's paintings, you're not quite sure where to look at first. It's part-whimsy, part-morbid, part-girly — and it's the sum of these parts that make up the 28-year-old's fantasy world.
It's what she calls "poetic realism", a form of art where she uses abstraction and surrealism to project emotions and inspirations that she favours from other artists as well. "It's just the way I look at regular life, in a funny way," she explains.
Featuring 40 new works including paintings, drawings and sketches, Edge of the World is a series that brings you up close to Berezovskaya's modern marvels.
What were the fairytales you read as a child that have made their way into your art now?
I enjoy Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland and I'm a huge fan of Serbian author Milorad Pavić. What I love about the fantasy genre is that it's so different yet so similar to our reality. The genre's elements of the supernatural and magical have influenced the way I tell stories.
Tell us more about the symbols you've used to convey your ideas.
I use lock and keys to talk about mysteries and discoveries. I use snails as well — the spiral on the shell of the snail is a symbol of life. There is also a Russian superstition that claims that wearing an old safety pin will ward off evil, and I have included this in my work.
You've said before that you find a lot of contemporary art today very ugly. How so?
There are a lot of artists, architects and actors but not many good artists, architects and the like. There are two important things to consider in art: how you do it and the idea you would like to convey to your viewer with each new work. Buying paints and canvas does not make one an artist nor does buying a camera make one a photographer. It is more than just the tools; it is how the tools are used to convey the idea.
Just how Russian are your works?
I don't set myself the task of making paintings that convey Russian culture. I have an idea, and if the idea needs a Russian way of explanation, then I use it. Often, it's a universal theme with a Russian context. For example, in Kissing the Birch, the universal theme is of love while the use of birch trees is the Russian context.
To learn more about the stories behind Berezovskaya's works, click below.
Anna Berezovskaya's exhibition, 'Edge of the World', takes place at REDSEA Gallery from 15 May to 14 June