Interview with Ekaterina Vanovskaya

Could you give us a brief introduction to who you are and what kind of work you make?
I am a painter. I was born in St Petersburg, Russia and a lot of the inspiration for my work stems from my childhood experiences. Memories play an important role in the paintings as well as present-day experiences that remind me of past events.

Where do you gather most of the inspiration for your works?
I gather a lot of inspiration from family interactions, places I travel to (since a lot of my work ties to a search of a sense of place), friends and childhood memories.

What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?
I probably can’t live without my subdued “pasty” color palette and my squeegee to wipe that paint off.

What types of obstacles have you run into in your artistic practice and how do you go about navigating around them?
My greatest obstacle in the studio continues to be to translate an idea, a narrative or emotional longing, into a successful painting. Painting has its own language and an idea has to be translated into that language. I might come up with something I really want to make a painting about, but it could be so fleeting and impalpable that it becomes difficult to turn it into a picture. Then I have to come with a better version of the idea and change it so it works well on a formal and psychological level in the painting. And if I keep painting, things eventually sort themselves out.   

What do you feel are the recurring themes in your visual work?  
There are several repeating themes in my paintings: loneliness, nostalgia, longing, and melancholia.  There are often figures depicted doing mundane tasks, or caught in a state of hesitation or fear, in forlorn atmospheres. There is clarity of an emotional impact but not necessarily a literal depiction of events. It is as if I am painting about a secret that nobody else knows.

Is there a particular artist you feel you relate to? Who are your role models (artists or non-artists)?
I feel akin to Mamma Andersson, Margaux Williamson. I like Kim Dorland, Alex Katz, David Hockney. My role models are my teachers and my friends.

What is the best piece of artistic advice you’ve been given?
Every time I feel misunderstood or discouraged I think back to something I was once told towards the end of graduate school. That even those who are at the very top of their fields have only one or two people who truly understand their work and what they are trying to go for. That idea really helps me to continue to believe in my paintings regardless of outside opinions. It’s impossible to please everyone and it’s easy to get off track. Pick your methods and stick to them, there will always be somebody who really believes in you. 


Ekaterina Vanovskaya | In Good Company