Poolside: Anastasia Korsakova
Los Angeles-based Russian artist Anastasia Korsakova's impressive works stem from her love of water and sports. We find out where she's heading next
Artwork by Anastasia Korsakova
Although Anastasia Korsakova, born in St Petersburg, Russia, played a number of sports professionally as a child, she knew that she wanted to explore other areas as she grew up. She attended art college at 18, and since then she hasn’t looked back. Anastasia’s paintings focus on women and sport, a reflection of her own childhood connection with athletics, and also her time as a swimming pool manager after graduating. Many of her works are centred around swimming and pools. A natural curiosity drives her to constantly learn and discover, and this feeds into her work, keeping it fresh and dynamic. Anastasia’s work is now exhibited and sold worldwide and she is about to take part in a show in Los Angeles, US.
Glorious: How did you discover painting? Was it a hobby or something you’ve focused on your whole life?
Anastasia Korsakova: I started painting when I went to college. I was 18 at the time. I had never painted before and the idea of studying to be an artist came up quite suddenly. But, as I am convinced, there are no accidents. My sister, who could draw, gave me two lessons so that I could pass my entrance exams, after which I went to art college and studied for four years.
After college I didn’t paint a lot, but gradually my passion for art started to grow. Two years after I’d left college I sat down again at my canvasses and started painting whatever popped into my head. At that point I had a strong desire to tie my life to art. This desire of my soul has matured gradually and just keeps getting stronger and stronger. Now my life and my art are one and the same. I see the beauty of this world in small things, and it’s magical. In my paintings I like to represent the feelings of people, as I see them.
Glorious: What’s the significance of featuring female sportswomen so frequently in your work?
Anastasia Korsakova: I paint female athletes as often as I do because I like the philosophy of the human body. Since I am very disciplined, I know that if a person owns their body and keeps it in good physical shape, it’s due to their discipline and inner strength. And that can’t help but be admired.
As a child I played sports professionally, in sprint, pole vault and long jump, but I didn’t want to pursue a career in that field. From sports I was drawn to art, and in college I was introduced to the work of Alexander Deineka. This Soviet artist portrayed athletes and his work was a big inspiration for me. My inner world responded to the way he conveyed human strength through art, especially the power of the spirit. This is the idea I carry through my art: only a person who owns his body can completely control his life and absolutely overcome any difficulties.
Glorious: One of your paintings is called The Shining, has this anything to do with the film?
Anastasia Korsakova: Yes – you’re right. The fact that it has the same title as Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is also no coincidence. There’s a reference to this film in my painting because I am very inspired by his work: the way he sees the frame, his composition, the way he conveys mood through colour – it’s incredible. And I gave it that name because the colours I used also contrast with each other. The contrast makes it seem as if the painting is glowing and radiating.
Glorious: Is there any kind of symbolism in the use of red in your works? Red is often featured – from the swimming costumes to the rubber rings and even the pole vaulters. One painting is even called ‘Red Bow’.
Anastasia Korsakova: To me, colour is always a symbol. Each one has its own colour wave and red, for example, is always about strength, energy and passion. Red is a colour that excites and attracts attention. I transfer energy and power through it in my work. If I need to express tenderness, lightness and understatement I use a different colour palette. I have even done some works entirely in white.
Glorious: Are you involved with sport outside of your art and, if so, does this directly influence your paintings?
Anastasia Korsakova: I did athletics for six years; pole vault and sprinting. At the moment I’m windsurfing, going to the gym, running and generally trying to keep my body in good shape. I love sport, it gives me a lot of pleasure in life. For me, sports and art are very connected. So, if I’m learning something new, it’s usually reflected in my paintings.
Glorious: Do you find repetition in your paintings symbolises calm and order, or the opposite, chaos and disorder?
Anastasia Korsakova: For me repetition is always about order. I once read an article about Mandelbrot fractals and the repetitive elements in nature that take different forms and manifest themselves in symmetry, trees spirals, river bends, waves, foam, geometric patterns, cracks, stripes, etc. Did you know that even a forest, which may at first seem to grow chaotically, actually grows in a certain geometric order? Everything in this world has a pattern, and the knowledge of this undoubtedly brings peace and tranquillity.
Glorious: Why is there a common theme of swimmers/water sports in your work? Is this a sport you take part in yourself?
Anastasia Korsakova: Oh, I have loved swimming since I was a little girl! For me the water is a place of total relaxation. I also like the process of human unity with the elements and the fight against them: how a person can be integrated into the natural elements or, conversely, overcome them. At the moment I am not a professional swimmer, but I want to start taking lessons from a coach.
Glorious: If you could invite five inspiring women to dinner, who would you invite and why?
Anastasia Korsakova: Here are a few women I admire: Marie Skłodowska-Curie, Frida Kahlo, Oprah Winfrey, Margaret Thatcher, Hedy Lamarr. They have all made significant contributions to science, art and politics, and I’m fascinated by all of them. I would be interested in hearing from women who have worked in these fields.
Glorious: Are there any other sports that you haven’t been involved in yet but would like to try? And perhaps portray in your work, in your inimitable style?
Anastasia Korsakova: Absolutely! I’ve never snowboarded in my life as yet, but I really want to try it out. And, of course, I would probably portray it in my paintings, as each new experience expands my consciousness and, accordingly, it all gets reborn in the work.
Glorious: You’ve recently shown interest in AI generated art. What’s your opinion on this and do you have any positive or negative predictions for its use in the future?
Anastasia Korsakova: I’ve really enjoyed using artificial intelligence – I think it’s a great tool in order to generate sketches or at least refresh your mind on new topics you’re writing about. Will it replace artists who paint the traditional way? No. Will it provide new opportunities for them? Yes! I take all innovations positively. This is always a possible key to opening new doors to the art world. Yes, perhaps some professions might in principle simply disappear from our lives to be replaced by artificial intelligence, but there is no escaping that. But more encouraging to me is the idea that this discovery will bring a lot of opportunities for everyone.
Glorious: How long does a painting take? Do you go through several versions before the final artwork is ready?
Anastasia Korsakova: It depends on the size of the work: bigger works take more time, smaller ones less. It depends on the amount of important details: the more there are, the more time I spend on it, of course. On average it takes me three to five weeks to complete a large work. A smaller work can take a week or even less – two to seven days on average. Before I paint a picture, I usually do sketches, and I can do up to six before I find the one that inspires me. Sometimes during the process I may not like what I’ve created, so at that point I just stop working on it to restore my inner balance. That way, I find inspiration to pour it out on the canvas later.
Glorious: Is there any storytelling in your paintings?
Anastasia Korsakova: Yes, of course there is. Each of my paintings has a story. There are paintings about love and tenderness. But if we talk about the overarching story in all my work, it will be this – the idea of the inner strength of women that is in each of us.
Glorious: What’s next for Anastasia?
Anastasia Korsakova: I am currently living in Los Angeles and preparing for an exhibition in this amazing city. The show will be at the Mash Gallery opening on March 4th. It will be a women’s show and will feature three of my paintings. I am also planning a solo show in the near future.
Glorious: Where can we stay up to date with you?
Anastasia Korsakova: Please follow me and discover my news and my journey on Instagram. I always keep it up to date with information about upcoming events