Conversation with Evgenia Bardina: "Artists are Forgiven a Lot"

Maria Glotova
— What role does art play in your life? When and how did you discover your passion for creativity?

Nowadays, art is everything to me. It supports, heals, inspires, energizes, and gives me all that I can't find elsewhere. It's my outlet, ego, driving force, and desire to grow more and more every day. At the same time, it serves as a shield and armor against societal norms and clichés about how one should behave and look — artists are forgiven a lot, you know (smiling). Throughout my childhood and youth, I was involved in various activities: theater school, piano, vocals, dance, animation courses, and my first serious artistic pursuit was at the Stroganov School. It just happened that way. I enjoyed the ease and recklessness that existed in the academy at that time. It seemed that this profession would always provide both moral and material support.
December series “Champagne”, 2022
— Your artworks often focus on the female figure. What attracts you to depicting women?

I'm generally drawn to any figure, any person. When we were studying, we constantly drew models, each other, and everything living that surrounded us. It's something from Mayakovsky's poems, where he notes the bronzed healthy skin. And women, they're probably more textured, unusual, and gentle than men. A curvy woman still looks sexy to me, especially if she's relaxed, whereas you can't always say the same about a man.
Eve in the wonderland, 2023
— How does art reflect your relationship with yourself and the world around you?

It's hard to put into words how I feel about the world around me. My art is more about my disconnection from it. It's something that goes against all these chaotic events and disasters. I don't find inspiration in anything negative; quite the opposite. That's why I try to work when I'm feeling good, being in high spirits. My artworks are fundamentally about myself, representing different aspects and states.
Four têt, 2023
— What life moments or situations have had a big impact on your art?

Since I studied graphic design (which I absolutely adore), I spent some time working in the design department of a well-known company. We focused on creating infographics, which could get pretty intense. Sometimes, we'd get breaking news or data, and we had to whip up visualizations in like 15 minutes. It was a temporary job, aimed at honing my design skills. Had its upsides, sure, but it left me feeling drained. A few months after moving on, I found myself craving something more hands-on, more practical. That's when I turned to painting. During my studies, drawing always captivated me, but it was when I discovered my passion for painting that everything changed. It was like a revelation, especially exploring the details of color, the interplay of light and shadow, and the tactile nature of oil on canvas.

— Do you have any sources of inspiration? How do you discover new ideas for your works?

Friends, beautiful people, and my own reflection. Folk art is a big inspiration for me. I love socialist realism and its stark style, and I especially adore iconography. Russian art, both pre-revolutionary and Soviet, in all its forms, fascinates me. I'm also inspired by ethnic works, textiles, and the blending of cultures from different countries. Recently, I've come to appreciate abstract art for its rich color harmony — I often learn and draw ideas from it.
Red M., 2022
— What do you hope to convey to viewers through your work? What emotions are you aiming to evoke?

I just want people to enjoy looking at my art. I’m not trying to teach or pressure anyone. I want each person who finds something in my work to experience a sense of delight. On a deeper level, some pieces carry different messages. Some are more sensual, others are musical or associative, and each viewer connects with them in their own way. Some works are soothing, while others are tense, invigorating, or even a bit frightening. A friend recently told me that my art both scares and attracts him. I loved hearing that. And he actually has one of my paintings in his pretty serious collection.
Nudes, 2023
— What role do criticism and feedback play in your creative practice? How do you handle both positive and negative reactions to your work?

Feedback is very important to me, though there are times when I couldn't care less. But people's reactions are incredibly motivating and supportive because staying in your own bubble of impressions isn't always helpful. I also appreciate criticism — I studied at Stroganov Academy, after all! I often seek it out and ask people whose opinions I respect for their thoughts.
Beauty, 2022
— How do you balance your artistic vision with the expectations of the public? Do you feel pressure from society or the art market?

I've had periods of anxiety, confusion, and trying to please others. During that time, I lost myself a bit—my vision and style got muddled. It was only after hitting that breaking point that I realized how important it is to ignore external noise and trends and to create in a way that's true to you. That's where your value lies. When it comes to the art market and society, I don't feel much pressure. I'm confident that my work resonates with my audience, and I cherish them. Plus, trends come and go. Today, being an artist feels a bit like being a DJ five to ten years ago. Some people ride the current wave and thrive in the creative scene, even if they don't have much to offer as creators. But every era has such figures, and there's always something to learn from them.
— Do you encounter difficulties in the process of creating your artworks?

As soon as difficulties arise, the work stalls. All the best things are created effortlessly, smoothly, and quite quickly. Brush in hand, everything flows, and the mood is high. Of course, there are some technical hiccups at times, like when something spills in the wrong place, the canvas misbehaves, or I add too much thinner, causing a section of the work to dry prematurely. But these are all enjoyable obstacles, and solving them brings an incredible sense of satisfaction, joy, and grace.

— How do you perceive your past works now? What emotions arise when you revisit your earlier creations?

I have an appreciation for my previous artworks and find value in reflecting on them. While I wouldn't approach them in the same way today, they serve as markers of my artistic progression. It's important to preserve them for self-assessment and growth. While there are some pieces from my past pursuit of trends that I may not favor as much, they still contribute to my overall artistic journey.

— Can you share a project or artwork that's particularly close to your heart? Why is it meaningful to you?

I'd love to talk about a collaboration I did with Blossom Garden, a local floral boutique. It all started when I connected with Eva, the founder, through social media. It was one of those chance encounters that turned into something really special. Eva had this idea to illustrate wrapping paper, and I was immediately drawn in. We brainstormed ideas, settled on a style, and I dove into painting a huge roll of paper. The whole process was so much fun, and seeing the final result was incredibly rewarding. I even made a cool video documenting the whole thing. The sheer scale of the project was pretty mind-blowing. When we shared it on social media, the response was amazing. People loved its simplicity yet originality, and that meant a lot to me.
— How does art help you express thoughts, emotions, and ideas? What does creativity mean to you?

It's a tough question about the meaning of creativity. It's like a daily necessity and inspiration, almost like finding meaning out of nowhere. Because, honestly, life can feel pretty meaningless otherwise.

— How do you feel about experimenting with new techniques?

I tend to avoid anything too radical. During my studies, we had a wide range of cool classes, from sculpture to painting (which, by the way, was quite conservative). Illustration classes encouraged experimentation, with various printing methods and working with typographic ink, like diatypia and such. But in the end, I always gravitate towards oil. It offers so many possibilities and properties.

I love working with soft materials; they're endlessly fascinating to explore and blend. In terms of graphics, my current favorite is an open-color alcohol graffiti marker combined with French dry pastel. I think it's important to experiment with texture and techniques, especially with color. That's where all the beauty lies.
— How does your creative process evolve? Are there any themes that have become particularly important over time?

I see it as a cyclic process, a reinterpretation of the old, and I feel my own maturation. But there aren't any radical changes, probably. My ideas develop gradually, and overall, I don't tend to experiment too much.

— What are your thoughts on modern trends in art and the influence of technology on the creative process?

I'm quite removed from all that. It's like the more it encroaches on us, the less I want to dive into it and believe that it's right on our doorstep. But recently, at the 1703 Fair in St. Petersburg, there was this digital booth showcasing the works of one artist (can't recall the name), which were crafted using artificial intelligence and displayed on large panels made of epoxy resin. The pieces featured all sorts of numbers, texts, and images generated by feeding queries to artificial intelligence (though it seemed to be of the older generation, from what I gathered). It looked incredibly intriguing and textured, reminiscent of the style you'd find in Ray Gun magazine—kind of a grunge nod to the 90s.
Warrior’s dance, 2023
— Do you have any specific dreams or ambitions related to your art? What would you like to achieve as an artist in the future?

I suppose I'll keep my dreams to myself, so they have a chance to come true (smiling). Generally, I just want to keep my inspiration, support, feedback, love, and strength. I absolutely don't want to stop. Though time seems to fly by so quickly, it's almost scary, but that just makes it all the more fun.