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Nat Apanay


Nat Apanay is a painter, draftsman, and sculptor based in Russia whose works have been exhibited both nationally and in the United Kingdom. From 2004 to 2010, she studied at the University of Architecture and Construction in Kazan, majoring in urban planning. Now she is a student at Moscow State University by Lomonosow, where the artist found a source of inspiration for his creative work, in conjunction with the study of scientific works on neurophysiology, lectures on quantum physics and cosmology, as well as manuals on human anatomy. 

- You come from a family of doctors. Why did you decide to devote yourself to creativity instead of taking over the family business? 

- When I was five years old I spent all my spare time painting like a maniac. I used to play with plasticine for hours. I picked stones, flowers, the bark of trees and branches to create compositions. It brought me so much pleasure, peace and harmony. That’s why my parents who always supported me whatever I wanted to do and gave me freedom in my personal development and leisure activities didn’t insist on my medical career. Although they still say that I`m very empathic and I would`ve been a great doctor. For a decade I was getting an academic art education. After that it took me six more years to receive an architectural education. At the same time, among the most vivid memories of my adolescence are the ones of visiting cabinets of curiosities and autopsy departments, of looking at photos depicting surgeries done by my father who was a plastic surgeon, of playing with all kinds of medical prosthetics and clamps instead of dolls. The fact that I was raised in a family of hereditary doctors certainly had a great impact on me and my art. My hand is so well developed that I cut the plane of the canvas or paper with my brush or pen like with a scalpel, without a shadow of a doubt, in order to get to the point of the form itself. 


- You studied at Kazan State University of Architecture and Engineering. When did you decide to abandon the architectural course and to start to embody your ideas on a canvas? 

-  The profession of an architect is strongly associated with creativity. It means the same picture, image or composition, only in volumetric and spatial dimension. I worked as an architect in Moscow for, like, eight years. I was the head of large-scale construction sites in all major cities in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The experience of administrating and big projects management helped me to develop a structured and responsible approach to any matters. At the same time my inner desire to devote all my time to work only on art projects constantly appealed to me. I always felt that it was my true path. My destiny. The gift I must develop. Two years ago I completely threw myself into work at my studio. And it turned out to be the right step towards the lifestyle I dreamed of since childhood. Now I walk a lot, meditate, experiment at the studio, reflect on the issues I care about in poetry and prose, communicate and collaborate with artists from all over the world and just live every single moment. 


- At a certain point American art dealers became really interested in your work. Why didn’t you pursue a career in the United States? 


- I was 20 years old when my curator and art dealer offered me a ten-year term with excellent living conditions in New York but my parents were worried about my independent life in Manhattan art community because I was too young and too trusting. That’s why I came back and later moved to London to continue my studies. London absolutely blew my mind. However, I received an offer to practice in management of Mercedes and Daimler automobile factories construction that took place in Naberezhbye Chelny. I understood that experience was crucially significant for competences development. It was extremely hard. I was a young girl appointed to control the construction teams, to be responsible for the budget and the roadmaps. Nevertheless, knowledge gained became the key basis for me.


- Why is it so important for you to be a part of Russian art community? 


- Foreign galleries are rather interested in my art. My pictures are presented in Berlin, Paris, Dubai. Despite this, I believe that people who speak the same language with me (it directs our reasoning), who live in the same cultural and political background, who feel the same pain and the same joy can understand my thoughts, creative ideas, emotional conditions much better. I adore my land, nature, people, the depth of everything that keeps us together. It’s a great honor for me – to become an important artist in my native country. I`m currently working with Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Kazan museums on organizing my personal exhibitions and it is a decisive milestone for my career. 

- In addition to paint you often use animal tissues in your works. Why? 

- First of all, nature is like mother`s womb. That’s where we came from. That’s where we`ll go to when our dream called life is over. I am the same piece of living matter as a tree or a frog or, like, moss, that`s why I translate my ideas through the same materials that I consist of. And the whole world consists of as well. That’s pure energy of the matter. Without any distortions. A kaleidoscope of living details of an integrated whole. Secondly, in my studies I`m trying to answer the question of coexistence of natural and artificial (human-made) environments with the use of silicone, oil and plastic in my sculptures. It`s important for me to understand if we are able to become ecological in our minds, behavior and our relation to the planet. 


- If we talk about the storylines of your works, is the unconscious the leitmotif? What are your works about? 


- The main thing with the unconscious is that it`s incredibly difficult to gain access to this area. First and foremost, my pictures are about the potential of either conscious or unconscious process. While practicing meditation and automatic writing, while sketching my dreams I`m trying to look inside that mysterious inner space. My pictures also reflect my thoughts about philosophical and metaphysical, about the essence of our existence. That`s why I chose abstraction as the language of storytelling. Biomorphic sculptures on the canvases reflect the essence of the nature of things as I see it – like never ending fluidity of everything, like pulsing rhizome. My pictures are the portals between dimensions. They are like windows where you can see different universes, creatures and lots of other things that don’t even have names yet. 


- Who are your customers? 


- Based on my observation, brave and open to new ideas people are passionate about abstract art. Among my customers are business people from the IT sphere who appreciate nontrivial creative view of things. Young and successful families from Europe who collect art together. Chief executive officers of large companies who leave their offices with standardized interiors and come back to their houses designed in modern style with special individualities. Collectors from China and the Middle East buy my works because they are obsessed with Russian soul and progressive art in general. Unlike figurative art, abstraction doesn`t provide any clear answers but it makes you think about solving the riddle, develop the associative way of thinking, create your own interpretations. That’s the reason why people with an enquiring and supple mind buy abstract pictures, I guess so. 


Nat Apanay, "Icon", 2020

- Tell us more about your work called «Icon» (2019) for we could better understand the concept of your pictures analysis.  

- I made it after my trip to Nepal where I spent time in the mountains on my own, meditating and studying Eastern philosophy. There I felt internal silence, I learned how to forgive myself, I watched millions of people focusing on other values, different from the Western ones. On my return I had to take care of my relative in the hospital round the clock and I witnessed people leaving this world. Then me and my family went to the church and lighted candles. When I stayed in the hospital room I curled up on a gurney and I spent night after night thinking about the human condition to become aware of your mortality, about religion as the way to stand together in the face of difficulties and fears. Therefore, surrealistic painting in «Icon» depicts us as lots of bags of bones blessed with the gift of consciousness and hope as an assistant. And also about the price we pay for ideologies and idols. By the way, this work is made with the use of oil as a symbol of a dying petropolitics era.

Петли жизни, 2020, графика, тушь, бумага

Nat Apanay, "Loops of Living", 2020

- What series are you working at now? 


- Now I`m finishing several projects. One of them is international. I work together with artists from Canada, Austria and Germany. Our collaboration called «Art without borders» started during the quarantine period. We`ll soon present it to the public on our social networks and websites. The virtual exposition can be consulted  on my Instagram or Facebook. Besides, next month my series of graphics and paintings called «Neurobuddhism» will be presented in galleries and in my studio in Moscow. So all art lovers are welcome to my exhibition on Bolshaya Nikitskaya Street in early October. 


- Recently you had an exhibition at The Brick Lane Gallery in London. How can you describe your experience to hold it after the global pandemic? 

- Sadly, Great Britain is not completely reopened after the pandemic. All business activities have been reduced. And I had to postpone the exhibition to early next year. My art dealer and other London galleries also recommend to wait until the situation becomes stable. 

- Your exhibition in Louvre opens on October 23rd. What themes will it focus on? Will you show the same series as in London? 


- At the moment, the gallery assures me that the exhibition in Paris is still in effect. The exposition of my abstract paintings will be presented within the annual contemporary art fair. In addition, in October I start with the help of another Paris gallery a global campaign of my promotion in France. Such activities also start in Berlin now.

- What subject do you teach at the faculty of philosophy in Moscow State University?


- I`m studying at the department of philosophy in Moscow State University. I took several courses concerning contemporary art and traditional philosophy concepts. It was this fundamental scientific view that helped me to piece together all fragments of my knowledge.

- What are your creative plans for the nearest future? 

- Currently I`m passionately starting a new project dedicated to futurological reflections about a metamorphosis humanity has to undergo in the second half of 21st century in order to move towards the postresource form and redefine all the values and concepts. It will be the series of anthropomorphic sculptures made of technological materials. And I certainly hope to realize all my ideas concerning international exhibitions, to visit the residences in Bali and the United States.

- What advice would you like to give to the young artists?

- I would rather refrain from giving any recommendations because every artist chooses the path of his own. I wish all my colleagues to love and protect the child inside you day by day and to feel art in everything you do. 

You can buy Nat Apanay's works at our online-gallery.

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