Yana Drygina was born in cold Syberia – the homeland of people with really warm hearts. After she graduated from The Russian Academy of State Service, she was engaged in social and political activities and represented Russia at the International political forum for the young leaders of the United Nations. At the same time, she considers herself as a highly creative person, with her heart given to art forever.
Your passion of painting is not your main occupation, is it? And, to judge by your biography, you started devoting yourself to painting when you reached adulthood. So what led you to your creative work?
Yeah, that`s true, it was really the long and winding road to creativity. I graduated from The Russian Academy of State Service under the President of the Russian Federation and worked in the State Duma of the Russian Federation where I had to plunge into political reality. Actually I decided to choose this sphere of work because of my desire for «making this world a better place», but afterwards – such a strange thing! – this desire just got another incarnation. And it was painting. «Beauty will save the world», as Fyodor Dostoevsky used to say. By the way, such interlacement of politics and art was inherent to Winston Churchill and also Adolf Hitler, who considered himself as an artist, not a political figure.
Are you a self-taught person or maybe you have an art education?
I don`t have an art-education. I guess it is the essence of creating something – this process comes from your heart.
In your opinion, are your works being criticized by professional artists because of your professional art education lack?
That`s possible! And fair. Art is the most subjective substance of all, and the price-formation of the modern art market proves this fact among other things. The most significant factor is your personal reaction to a picture, if it`s in tune with your heart – and any academic rules don`t matter. As William Somerset Maugham has beautifully written in his book «The Moon and Sixpence», «To my mind the most interesting thing in art is the personality of the artist; and if that is singular, I am willing to excuse a thousand faults».
You did practical work in the United States. Had the USA any influence on you?
Every journey brings changes, and we never come back the same as before. In my case my trip to America has not only expanded my horizons but also gave me the feeling of «deliberate patriotism». I love Russia very much, but our people, our «Russian soul» are the most outstanding phenomena. Beyond compare.
Are there any motives or techniques that you borrow from the foreign artists?
If I have such opportunities, I always try to visit different exhibitions and galleries abroad, but, frankly speaking, my greatest sources of inspiration are Russian artists, such as The Russian Art Nouveau at the turn of the XIXth and XXth centuries, the so-called artistic movement «World Of Art» and the Diaghilev epoch on the whole.
The ballerinas on your canvases undeniably make the viewer compare your paintings with the work of Degas. Where does this style come from? Are you an impressionism admirer or what?
I`d rather call it the mixed technique. It`s not always impressionism just as it is. What about my favorite painting movements – they are the Renaissance, the Art Nouveau that I mentioned earlier and impressionism. But my inquiring mind constantly makes me search for the new forms and incarnations in art, that`s why currently I`m highly interested in getting to know more about modern art. The main thing in this case is, as they say, «to keep an open mind» and to understand that it`s, first of all, the art of ideas, not just an applied image.
What determined the mixed technique style in your work?
You address this question to a person who successfully united the worlds of politics and art! I guess any kind of symbiosis is much more interesting anyway, it always looks so fresh.
Do you have any series of paintings in addition to your ballet cycle?
Yeah, I have landscapes, a series of portraits (a portrait of Alexander III) and subjects from Russian folklore. The landscapes I create are also the ones that inspire me: Russian nature and Italy particularly. Of all European countries I consider Italy to be not only the most beautiful one, but the country with a divine touch! My last Italian landscape is Venice.
Could you tell us any interesting stories of creating your paintings or maybe anything about their peculiar destinies?
The most remarkable story of all is the following: the first portrait I`ve ever created was the portrait of Vladimir Putin. Being an ambitious person, I wanted my first portrait to be the one of the most inspiring Russian citizen. I respect our President very much, though finally this portrait has been given not to Vladimir Putin in person but to a man in his close attendance.
Did you have your personal exhibitions?
For the present - only planned. I would like to keep everything concerning my upcoming exhibition a secret so far. You can write that my first exhibition (of the ballet cycle) is scheduled for the next spring. It will take place in Moscow, with amazingly creative atmosphere!
Would you like to have an art practice abroad?
For sure! It gives you a more varied field of vision, you see the real world of art without any borders, and that`s its power. My preferences are the painting school in Florence and Christies in London where you can get education in the sphere of fine arts and art market.
Are you critical to yourself?
Yeah, sure I am! I`m a hell of a perfectionist. And I always think that I could have done something better. Nevertheless, the principal part of painting is to transmit your energy through the canvas, and if you succeeded, even just a little bit, - it was worthy of it.
What is your motto?
If you care for slogans, it`s «life is short, art is eternal». Actually I consider love to be the most important thing of all, it`s exactly that kind of energy that fills us, helps us to feel life. Nothing makes sense without love, and only in love we are the way we are, we are real.
In your opinion, what is the central thing in life for a creative person?
To be greedy for knowledge, to improve yourself all the time, to read good books, to listen carefully to other people and to notice beauty even in small things.
Where do you find inspiration for creating new works?
My works mainly represent the ballet cycle because I adore the theatre and I know it from the inside for my sister is a ballet dancer. And she is my major inspirer! From my point of view, ballet is the apogee of all arts, it`s really magic, absolute beauty taking your soul away into the euphoria.