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All You Need : Alexandra Dvonikova

Forge Collective Blog Birds N Bones Jewelry
- Elizabeth  Mikutowicz -
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This week we had the opportunity to interview artist Alexandra Dvornikova. Originally from Russia, she currently lives in London and creates prints and digital art with a wonderfully dark fairy tale/folk art feel. We love the dark colors and simple shapes used in her art, and the mostly female lineup of characters featured alongside forest creatures. The color palette, juxtaposed with the lone/few characters and forest scenes, create a feeling of solitude; a calm and secluded wilderness. You may be familiar with her work from her blog, or on Society 6. Read on to learn more about her!  

Elizabeth Mikutowicz: Tell us about your business name and what it means for you?

Alexandra Dvornikova: I do find important to clarify that I don't have a business, so I have don't have a business name. My blog is named "all you need is a wall". It's not a pseudonym which I use to hide behind, and it's not the name of some project, it's the name of my blog. No more, no less. The blog itself is a personal and safe space for me, where I can share my vision. I chose this name a long time ago when I was just student and it refers to a song by my favorite band "The Books". It has a lot of personal meaning for me which I perceive intuitively and which is hard to explain.
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At the same time, it relates to several different and important things in my life. In a few words: partly desirable and partly frightening isolation, protection, and the power of imagination. It also reminds me of my childhood experience, which deeply impacted my development as a person and artist. Being a child I often spent my time watching “cartoons” from my head on a wall or on a ceiling. So I needed the wall to be able to project and to see my hidden inner world. You can see some of these in my illustrations, which originate from that "ancient" time.
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Very frustratingly, in 2016, this quote acquired some political interpretation which of course I never ever meant to reiterate. So I was faced with a choice to change it or to save it. I decided to leave the name because I didn't want to be forced by someone, my only aim is to stay true to myself. I hope it's obvious that I don't mean walls that separate people in political or historical terms. 
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One artist told me something which absolutely resonates with my own perception and which I probably unconsciously meant choosing the name of the blog. He told me that walls are the metaphor of the painting, of the art...an object between the reality and someone's eyes. And I totally agree because art is something between reality and the person.
EM: Your picture on the bio on your website somewhat resembles the female characters portrayed in your work. Can you tell us a little bit about the females portrayed-who are they or what do they represent? 
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All You Need Is A Wall Tumblr
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Honestly, I don't really know. I first met them in illustrations, not in reality, but who they are and why they came I can't say for sure. 
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I never put a certain meaning in drawings. More likely the drawing itself show me something unexpected and very familiar at the same time. Something naturally appears. And I believe that it's impossible to explain such things because for me it will mean one thing, for another person it will mean another thing. My perception, in this case, is not the best one, but one of the many possibilities.
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So, I can only try to guess. Maybe they are my imaginary friends or members of my imaginary family? Without any doubts, they are good companions for me and in some way, I spend a lot of time with them. They definitely live in a forest with animals and forest spirits and they absolutely have a different life compared to ours. This life attracts and scares me at the same time.
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All You Need Is A Wall Tumblr
All You Need Is A Wall Tumblr
All You Need Is A Wall Tumblr
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EM: You referenced the forest and nature as being important to you, and we see much of this in your work; what do the forest and nature represent for you? 

AD: It's a hard question because on one hand such an archetypical and symbolic thing like the forest, without a doubt, has a huge cultural meaning and leads us to some metaphorical parallels with life cycles, fate or borderline sacred space between life and death, for example. And on another hand, the forest is just a forest, an intangible, mysterious and unknowable thing with its own hidden life. I feel both things in pretty complicated balance and, to be honest, the second aspect fascinates me the most. 
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I may say that forest plays a significant role in my life. I admire the magnificence and the power of nature and forests, I'm enchanted by its endless beauty and wise glory. My heart is filled with love for the forest. I'm a pretty pantheistic (closer to panpsychism ideas) person, which will provide a good explanation. 
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All You Need Is A Wall Tumblr
All You Need Is A Wall Tumblr
EM: What else inspires your work? 

AD: Childhood memories in general and childhood memories of fairy tales. Science, especially natural. Whimsical and lucid night-dreams. Loneliness and solitude. Light and shine. Danger and beauty especially when they collide together. Fear. Medieval art which shows monsters, Eden, the Last Judgement or the World's end. Music and books. Folk art and folk costumes. Some girlish things like coziness, adorable vintage dresses, cooking.

EM: You studied printmaking technology and graphics at Saint Petersburg Stieglitz State Academy of Art and Design and mentioned that you enjoy creating digital illustrations and small animations. Did you know your art would take this path and that you'd eventually work in these mediums; can you tell us about the evolution you've experienced as an artist? 

AD: I didn't know where that path would take me. I must admit that I have very low planning skills and I dislike to have long term goals, ambitions, and expectations. Everything can be changed in a moment.
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I chose my area of study pretty randomly, because of the beauty of printing machines and connection to the bookmaking industry. My study experience was pretty miserable and I wasn't happy during that period.
I share this to support another art-students who feel derelict, alien, and lost in the organized study institute.
It may be heartbreaking to do endless tasks which have no personal meaning or interest, and it may be painful to always be judged by people who have absolutely different positions in life. As a result, this taught me to be resistant and strong and gave me an awareness of how important is to listen to your own heart. 
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I was pretty passionate about linocut when I was a student. I still love linocut so much and continue doing it to rest and relax. It was a great escape for me. It was during that time I first noticed that I love to have simple and well-defined silhouettes, I love the color graphic ie limited color palette, and enjoy to work in layers. Thinking in layers was something very native and enjoyable for me.
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All these factors led me to start learning digital drawing independently in my free time. On one hand, I needed an area without permanent judgement, advice, and force where I could just be myself. On the other hand, digital media art seemed like something that best fit my personal approach and work patterns because it gave me the ability to change ideas in process, which didn't require me to have a certain plan before starting a drawing, the ability to easily fix mistakes and work in layers. 
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And there is one more important thing I need to mention. Since childhood, I was always frustrated because I wasn't able to make moving pictures but I had such a wish! I guess artists have always wished to make their creations come alive. In junior school, I often treated myself by making “flip book animations” in all my exercise books, school books, and notebooks. It was enchanting and magical. As a teenager, I had a period of stop motion animation with hand drawn collages or plasticine figures in dioramas. Digital drawing opened the door of small animation to me. 
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In my opinion, small animation and gif animation are not equal to cartoons; it's a completely different way of visual storytelling. It's not about what happened, but about how. I mostly focus on the atmosphere of elusive beauty: the play of the light, flicker, glimmer, soft movements, blinks, breath, wind, fog, disappearing and vanishing, and so on. I love endlessly repeating things, cycle animation where nothing happens, only a silent and peaceful world showing its hidden parts. Cycle animation is, for me, a very special state of being caught in a moment, being completely beyond time, only a few seconds that will last forever. Actually, it’s a very powerful thing! Gif animation for me is not just a crippled version of “normal” animation, it is a completely different way of perceiving time and reality, another point of view, more detached and philosophical in a sense.
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All You Need Is A Wall
EM: I understand you also studied art therapy. What is your outlook on the role of art in therapy?

AD: Art naturally leads us to ourselves, helps us to be in contact with our mind and feelings; it's an absolutely unique and natural way for deep, nonverbal understanding of the world around and the world inside us. Art is more than just therapy even in art-therapy. It's the necessary phenomenon which existed for all human's history, so people often feel a big relief when they are able to return to a symbolical part of life and self-expression because they were separated from it for a long time.
It's an important part of any human being to be able to express oneself and to be able to symbolically live out the deepest part of their inner world.
Some things in our experience just can't be said (and analyzed!), because we have a very poor dictionary for transcendental appearances or for emotions when compared to the living power of colors and shapes. Without a doubt, our subconscious doesn't speak the familiar language we use in ordinary life. Symbolism is one of the most direct ways to keep in touch with the subconscious.
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Art has a huge potential to revive, return life, and cure deep wounds of the soul. For some people, it's the only one way to be in contact with the world around. 
But of course, art-therapy is not equal to art itself. Otherwise, all artists, musicians, and writers would be the happiest people on earth but it's often the other way around. I may say that in my opinion art-therapy is a more safe, pragmatic, directed and “cropped” version of art, probably without the dramatics and "hardcore" aspects. But people who've cried aloud, experienced a trance, ecstatic state or preverbal horror during art-therapy may not agree with me. Art therapy is one of the deepest and softest in psychotherapy.
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EM: What effect do you hope your art has on people? 

AD: It may sound extremely egoistic but I mostly make art for myself. This approach helps me to stay sincere, not try to be liked or to make enjoyable or “important” things because if I do, I will be focused on other people and I will probably lose my path, or drown in others' voices and opinions. I have no certain expectation about effects on people; not because I don't really care, of course I seek an understanding and resonance, but I respect any perception even if it's opposite my own. In this case, I am able to accept any possible reaction, even disaffection or laughter. 
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There are some types of feedback that I enjoy the most. First is an evocative reaction, regardless what was evoked - feelings, emotions, long forgotten memories, thirst for adventure, interest in nature, peace in heart. I often receive this type of feedback and it definitely makes my heart burst with happiness. Second - I love to hear that people can create their own stories about my drawings. I love to believe that each drawing has an untold and personal story which is different and unique for each observer. Third - the specific identification of the type of effect. It's a very complicated thing. Some people tell me, "it is me" and there's really something magical and deep in this for me, even if they don't take it so seriously. Anyway, any interaction of my drawing with reality is still an unbelievable miracle for me! 
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All You Need Is A Wall Tumblr

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