Interview with Evgenia Poberezhna

My work focuses on people. The main expressive means are oil painting, drawing, mixed media and collage. I explore the themes of female nature, childhood, family, and growing up.

Born: Crimea, Ukraine
Now: Obukhiv, Ukraine
@evgeniapoberezhna | Saatchi Art


Evgenia, you received an education in the field of graphic design. Then you work for a long time on TV… When did you start doing traditional painting and how did you start to develop your style?

Indeed, after university, my professional life was connected only with design. But I always felt a desire for painting. Personal creative path and experiments had to be constantly combined with the main work of a designer on television. Despite everything, I never gave up the intention to do oil painting, although at that time, I only knew graphic techniques. I dared to try in 2014. I remember my first oil work – a reflection on a small piece of plywood called “Portrait of War”. I come from Crimea. The annexation was a real shock. For my family and friends, it was the beginning of the war. My mother was forced to leave home and leave forever. I almost stopped communicating with my brother; since then, we haven’t seen each other.

As for the style, it began to take shape during his student years and finally took shape in 2018, thanks to sketching. I make a lot of life sketches – this practice is the basis of all my work.

Expression, pressure, ease, something pulsating, not obvious and complete – that’s what I’m after. Only in this way does creativity find its own voice and nerve. After all, art is not form, meaning, or aesthetics. It’s a way of thinking, it’s a way…

Tell us, what inspires you to create works, and how do you choose the medium you will work with?

Just being – that’s what inspires me! Life in all its fullness and authenticity – family, nature, contemplation, my day today and now. I care about scenes of deep relationships and subtle intimacy. In 2009, after the birth of my son, my perception of the world fundamentally changed. Sensation and artistic vision sharpened. Then, I began to explore the topic of childhood and growing up more. Every day, I watch how my son turns from a child into a young man – it is this process that inspires and incredibly fascinates me as an artist.
Today, my work inevitably reacts to the war. What hurts the most is that our children see it with their own eyes day after day, and it traumatizes them. They simply do not understand why someone would do this to them and to the people they love, to their homes, to their cities.

I choose the medium intuitively. The drawing is always a priority. Lately, I’ve been using mixed media more and more often. I like their incalculability and freedom. When I approach the subject of nature, I tend to use collage. It’s like meditation. It allows you to restore creative forces. Everything is not so simple with painting. I am still trying to re-melt the lightness and dynamics of a live painting with oil. I hope, it will be successful.

It is interesting that your active participation in exhibitions coincided with the pandemic’s beginning. Was it challenging to participate in exhibitions, and how often were you selected for these events?

Due to the pandemic, the world was rapidly changing to an online format. And for me, as a 200% introvert without any exhibition experience, it gave me an easy start. I felt more confident in the digital space. I finally realized that the profession of a graphic designer is not an obstacle but an additional tool. The television company where I worked partially switched to remote work. This made it possible to work from home and spend more time in the workshop. She began to dream of a full-time job and to think more carefully about her artistic strategy. Anna Miklashevich, an artist and the founder of the International Union of Ukrainian Artists UARTIST 83, supported me a lot on this path. I owe a lot to her experience and mentorship. If you count the number of applications I have submitted since then, most of them have been successful.

You actively presented your work in different parts of the world. Which of the projects or exhibitions was the most important and fundamental for you, and most of all, influenced your attitude to the activity of art?

It was a group grant project Re:connection implemented with funding from the EU and the Goethe-Institut. It was presented on February 24 during the international exhibition “Art is As” by Anna Miklashevich with the support of the APIS institute in Ljubljana. This grant provided for an online residence. It was not necessary to leave Ukraine. For the first time in my life, my obligation was not anything but drawing. In addition, I had the opportunity to draw attention to the topic of my native Crimea and its culture through the paintings created during the residency. This vital project and the people who made it happen helped me in many ways. First, I met and worked with wonderful artists. Special thanks to the leader of our group, Anna Ponomarenko. We were in different cities, but we were constantly in touch and supported each other. Emotionally, it was a challenging period: winter, regular air alarms, and blackouts. Secondly, the project made it possible to obtain much-needed financial support. Because of the war, I had already lost my permanent job. But most importantly, he provided an opportunity to work creatively, inspired, gave strength to move forward even in war conditions.

Full-scale invasion caught you at home, but you continued your activities. And, at the moment, you have several areas of work behind you – a creative career, and you are trying yourself as a blogger, writing useful articles that receive very warm feedback. What gives you the strength to create and write?

As the hero of one famous film about artists said: “We don’t even know why we do it… But we can’t help it!” I know about myself that I can’t do it. It’s not something I’m trained to do, it’s me. My life experience is my creativity in any form. My son, for example, is also my creativity, the same as my artistic or textual works!)) Yes, war is an iron hammer that hits the country and destinies with all its might. And for me and my family. But the country is alive! It defends and attacks, it creates, builds, and shows the world her beauty, courage, and culture! I am a natural part of it. So why can’t I create? No! Vice versa))

What advice would you give to aspiring artists? And especially for those who include disclaimers about having a family and children or permanent work.

I would advise you not to start if you already have many refusals and doubts at the beginning. It’s not bad or good – it’s just a different way. Most likely, more successful and understandable. But, if you really see this road – difficult, desperate, not in a straight line. If you truly believe that it is possible, then all you have to do is go! There will be no turning back from this journey. For me, a woman artist is a hummingbird that is forced to hover but is always in motion. Hovering in the air above a flower-family, work, a million responsibilities. For her, the family is an indestructible value, but this woman is an artist.

It is important to understand as early as possible that having a family, children or a permanent job is not an obstacle but a part of the path. By accepting this, you will discover inexhaustible sources of inspiration, life wisdom, and depth. For a true artist, this is an invaluable experience.

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