Greetings from London - Interview with Maria Cohen

June 1, 2021
Greetings from London - Interview with Maria Cohen

Tell us how did you become an artist?

-       When I was a kid I dreamt to become a clothes designer – I was dressing up all the time and had been making up stories. But back then I was already drawing a lot. In high school, I went on to study the theatrical costume. It was more about scenography or stage design – but I have studied an art history, history of theater. Back then I started to draw and paint and became really involved with this. I had realized then I would like to go deeper and become an artist.  This is how it all started – my “path through the thorns” – I started to get lessons and found my teacher. Not only she taught me certain technics but also shared with me certain attitude toward life: how to be creative, how to look at things in front of you. After that a Surikov’s happened in my life (Surikov’s Art Institute in Moscow – is one of the main colleges for fine art in Russia- D.L.). – and it was a challenging experience for me. Totally not my world and it was tough for me on many levels, but I am grateful for the experience, I have learned classic, academic painting and lots of other techniques. And after the college I decided to go into modern art, go down to philosophy of it – but all this path in its entirety has contributed to me becoming an artist.


How would you define your style now?

-       This is a difficult question for me. I would say - this is often a mixture of the expressive painting with graffiti with assemblage. It is mixture of technique, which appear as a result of the experiment, as a result of the process.


What are the themes that you are willing to explore in your work?

-       At the moment I am interested to explore sexuality, fear and frustration. But not all too literally. It is more about sexual energy in different aspects of our life and how it is affects us. How does it affects human interactions, the relationship between man and nature, men in politics, people’ behavior in general? All of this, how does it defines our identity?  And for me – how does it define my identity as a Russian? ... or as a Jew?  And how do all these patterns impact our life in its diversity?  And in contrast – the natural manifestation of instinct that you cannot control...


Where are you taking inspirations from? What helps you to focus on creation?

-       Oh this is rather straight forward question – I get inspired by my surroundings, our capitalistic society, our context.  I enjoy observing the fluctuation of things in our society. . This is some how a meditative feeling, when you almost get to grasp its feels like breathing of the world.


Any particular artist that made a big impact on you?

-       I would say Renaissance era, Leonardo da Vinci. Not even from an art point of view, but from the view of progress and symbolism.

-       I am also huge fan of gothics, I have to say – because of the symbolism – and attention to details. Bosch and Bruegel are my two favorites.

-       And I would mention Baroque Epoque – for passion and attitude toward life – as a bubbling spring of life, this is a world full of sin and repentance.


What are your interest beyond art?

-       I love sport- I am huge fan of sport. I had done sport professionally actually – swimming and I still swim. Also really adore logic tabletop games when you need to think strategically. I love to dance and travel and interact with people...


What are your plans for this year?

-       My plans are to graduate from my masters program, hopefully win some grants and get a residency (in UK) (laughing) (DL: Maria is currently working on her Masters at Camberwell College of Arts, London, graduating in September 2021).


Are you involved not projects with other artists?

-       Right now I am working on the project with classmate the idea is that we share this project to express political views of ours. This is a very politically intense project – and the question is – what is the path to freedom, what is the protest – in the logical, semantic sense of these words. Hopefully it will be ready by summer.


What in your opinion is a success for an artist?

-       Success for an artist – is when you do what brings you real joy and you are not limited by anything. It is ability to create, ability to demonstrate your works, to be seen...


How do you feel when your works find new owners? When creating a new piece do you think sometimes about its future?

-       I am very easy when it comes to partying with works and when I understand who will be the owner of it. It is important for me to know who will own it, and how the future life of my work will depend on it. If the future owner is in love with my work, I am happy to give her a new life.


What would you like audience to think when looking at your works?

-       I like to provoke people, I am not idealistic. I am up for all real, for showing the flaws, for stripping it down to the core.  I like to think that my works, can help you to experience feelings and maybe understand yourself better. Someone will become more anxious, but some will see something valuable...


About the author

Daria Lobyntseva

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