Magic of Oriental Art
Each country’s culture is unique. That’s why pieces of art can often tell a lot not only about the authors themselves but also about the history and mentality of the whole nation. Anzhela Gaidenko is an artist who studies and teaches oriental painting based on the state of ‘relaxed concentration’ and the ideas of ‘slow life’ and consciousness. The expert told the Global Women Media news agency about the features of Chinese and Japanese fine arts. She also shared her personal stories about the choice of oriental stage names and the creation of paintings.
architect, designer, and artist
Anzhela Gaidenko graduated from the Department of Urban Development of the Moscow Architectural Institute. Since then, she has been employed in her favourite profession. Ms. Gaidenko is engaged in the construction of private houses and interior design. Like any creative expert, she is constantly developing and looking for new ways of the fulfilment of her potential.
Anzhela Gaidenko attended a workshop on Chinese painting about 10 years ago. Oriental culture and art fascinated the designer so much that very soon her interest in them grew into real love. Ms. Gaidenko started to learn Chinese painting from Moscow teachers. At the same time, she started to do calligraphy, attended courses and workshops on Oriental culture. Then she regularly went for an internship at the University of Science and Technology Liaoning in the city of Anshan, China. She studied different styles of painting and calligraphy.
In 2015, Anzhela Gaidenko was especially interested in studying Suibokuga and Nihonga painting. She received a seal and creative pseudonym Karei from Midori Yamada (Yamada-sensei). Ms. Gaidenko is a member of the All Japan Suibokuga-Art Association (Tokyo, Japan).
Since 2016, Anzhela Gaidenko has been teaching Chinese paining (Xieyi and Mogufa styles) at educational clubs focused on Oriental culture. She collaborates with the Confucius Institute, teaches at the Agniya Barto Library, and participates in exhibitions and contests in Russia and other countries.
– What styles do you work with?
– Chinese painting is called ‘Guohua’. It is translated as ‘national painting’. The term was invented to show the difference of Chinese art from Western European art, to emphasize its authenticity and originality.
I especially enjoy such styles as Xieyi (‘writing an idea’) and Mogufa (‘boneless painting’), ‘flower-bird’ genres, and landscape painting.
Xieyi presupposes a free pictorial manner of writing aimed at reflecting the core idea of the image, work with a wide dynamic brush, ink, and mineral paints on thin rice paper. The Mogufa style is also characterised by lightness and some spontaneity.
– What is the most interesting thing in Eastern culture, in your opinion?
– Of course, it is full of interesting things. As an artist, I would like to emphasize the fine arts. Chinese painting is incredibly fascinating. It is a unique language different from any other language of art.
In ink painting, the line is very important. The expressiveness of the line itself is a valuable element and an important criterion of an artwork. This is caused by the fact that painting and calligraphy are closely interrelated.
Materials also play a key role: a modern artist works with a brush only using rice paper, ink, and mineral paints like ancient masters did.
Xieyi painting makes it possible for you to create a picture in a single session. It can take only about 20 minutes. However, that doesn’t decrease the value of the artwork. For such an activity, you need to master certain artistic techniques and skills and improve them day by day.
– What does creativity mean for you today? Is it a hobby, profession, or another kind of activity? What does art mean to you in general?
– Creativity for me is not just a hobby or a profession. It is something without which I cannot exist. It is an addiction. It is a source of pleasure which often gives no practical benefits. It is my dependence on visual perception, the beauty of forms, the beauty of the idea, and simplicity of its expression.
I believe that art is one of the conditions of human life and also a means of communication for people from different countries and generations. It is an opportunity for an artist and a viewer to enter into a dialogue today, years later, or centuries later.
Each piece of art has a hidden meaning that we have to find. Interestingly, Oriental painting in this respect is more like books that should be read instead of watching films. Such paintings are always supplemented with some signs: seals, poetry, and calligraphy.
– What did your interest in art start with?
– I believe, I have had it childhood. It’s not about going to galleries and museums with my parents. The love for art comes from observation and admiration of nature and beauty of the most ordinary things (singing of birds, flowers, clouds in the sky), through fantasies about drawing grass or shadows on the wall. By the way, it is very close to the philosophical postulate ‘the great is in the small’. According to it, the soul of the universe is every part of nature.
China, earlier than other countries, made a peculiar aesthetic discovery of nature. It was the first place where such genres as ‘flower-bird’ and landscape appeared.
–Why did you choose China as your topic?
– It seems to me that I didn’t choose it. I was just following my path and it led me to the culture of China.
When looking for and discovering means of artistic expression, got to know unfamiliar materials having extraordinary meanings. They are also called ‘the treasures of a researcher’s office’. They are a brush, ink, thin paper, and ink slab.
Transparent watercolours and black ink with its fine gradation of shades attracted me by the lightness and freedom of the image. Mastery of linear painting (as an architect and a graphic artist I have always considered it as a valuable tool) combined with ink spots, which could replace light and create the illusion of three-dimensional space, and the expressiveness of the line itself is the criterion of artistic value.
China is an amazing country, one of the oldest ones. The richness of its material and spiritual values, which have not changed over the millennia, are its distinguishing features. Despite its rapid development, that country retains its uniqueness and originality.
– What meanings do you put into your artworks? What is your mission?
– My artworks are an attempt to get away from the vanity of the world, to observe the surrounding world and comprehend the unity and harmony of people with nature, to address nature as a source of inspiration, new forms, and spatial thinking. Those are the goals that I have as not only an artist but also an architect.
As an artist and teacher, I have a mission to acquaint a wide audience with culture, art, beauty, and other views of fine arts through Guohua painting practices.
I see the essence of Oriental painting in the ‘here and now’ process. The dialogue with the surrounding world through creativity is important for me. Thanks to that, I can reach harmony with the external world and my internal world. I would like to teach my students the same.
Creativity changes thinking and consciousness of a person develops creativity, intuition, imagination, promotes flexibility of thinking, contributes positively to people’s lives, makes people freer, and unites them.
– As you said, art is a way to communicate through generations. What is the role of art in intercultural communication?
– It has the most important role. Creative activities help you join a certain group of people. Although each artist has his or her style and tasks in work, he or she is still involved in the global cultural community. Now there are many international exhibitions, contests, and projects. That once again proves that the unifying power of art.
Art makes it possible to establish a cultural dialogue among countries, which is Sometimes stronger than any business cooperation.
Immersion in art helps us better understand other people and cultures. We begin to see something close to ourselves in things that seemed too unfamiliar to us. That is why I believe that cultural interaction creates a feeling of trust and solidarity among different countries.
Besides, art affects the development level and reputation of a country. Culture is the indicator of the quality of life. Art is a base, a system of values. The richer is the cultural heritage is, the greater is the knowledge and wisdom base of people.
It is important for me, as a teacher, to share my love for art with others, involving as many people as possible in creative activities. That’s how we bring something positive and harmonious to the world. Art is always constructive and creative.
– What is women’s role in developing and preserving culture?
– Women’s and men’s roles in society are slightly different because both sexes have natural unique qualities. Women have a more developed ‘three-dimensional’ view of the world. This is caused by the fact that they have to perform more diverse tasks in the process of life.
The role of women is great in all spheres of society, especially in culture. When raising children and interacting with society, women always strive to preserve culture and traditions for future generations. Sometimes they do that intuitively, without knowing about that. This is their natural ability.
– What would you like to wish women from all over the world?
– Not to be afraid of getting away from the routine for some time. Do not be shy to show your creative nature. Creativity is a great way to slow down in the rapid pace of modern life, splash out your emotions, and immerse in your own soul and consciousness.
That approach will improve not only your quality of life but also that of people around you. After all, we transmit the same that happens inside us to the outside world.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Find time for yourself, take the first step, and then you can change the lives of others.
Viktoria Yezhova, Global Women Media news agency
Translated by Nikolay Gavrilov