Zhuk on Spiritual Support and ‘Capture of Bathsheba’
Zhuk is an artist whose creative production revolves around classic figurative painting, presented in a contemporary manner. Her main mission is to bring Light and try to inspire others through her art. In this interview, we discuss Zhuk coming full circle to present at the Venice Biennale, the meaning of spiritual support, and how art brings Faith even in the darkest of times. Please note that this interview has been edited for the purposes of brevity and clarity.
GEORGIA: What are your first memories of creating art?
ZHUK: It’s hard to recall my first memories, since I was born in a family of artists and I’ve been surrounded by the creative atmosphere since my childhood. I’ve always had paper and paints on hand. Most of my childhood drawings are kept in my parents’ house, but I l also have a couple of them as a memory of that wonderful, carefree time. I used to have a special liking for the color yellow; I would use it a lot, so my mom always ran out of it whenever she needed it!
GEORGIA: How did you eventually go on to creating art full time? Did that feel like a risky decision?
ZHUK: As I mentioned, I’ve been surrounded by art since my childhood. Growing up, I would look at my grandfather’s paintings for hours. I’m grateful that his art legacy gave me the opportunity to learn a lot about him since I never got to meet him. After finishing my studies, I became an honorary member of the Union of Artists in my country. Later, when I got interested in music, I started playing the saxophone. Back then I devoted all of my time to my musical studies and I completely immersed myself in the art. After a while, I was already performing on stage, I had 10 or more performances a week. The music scene gave me incredible emotions and energy.
Later, I was lucky enough to visit the Venice Biennale. As I walked through all the pavilions, I had this feeling that the visual arts had captured my inner world again. I remembered how rich my family’s art heritage was and I thought about the fact that I didn’t want to leave it. I promised myself that I would come back to the Venice Biennale as an artist representing my country. Inspired, I returned to my homeland and began working hard. Sometime later, I kept my promise and I presented my art installation at the 59th Biennale.
GEORGIA: Tell us more about your style and process? How would you define your style?
ZHUK: I combine the classical school of painting with modern interpretation of my vision. With each work, I try to improve my style and the level of art, working harder on the details each time. This is a long process that requires complete dedication, but I enjoy seeing the difference between my early works and my today’s works. In any case, these are all stages of my creative path and each of them is very dear and personal to me. It’s so important for me to surprise myself first of all, then I can feel that I am growing and moving forward.
GEORGIA: Was there a piece that really changed your art career? What was that piece and what is the story behind it?
ZHUK: I believe that the work that will change my art career is still in the future.
Some people say that they don't understand art, but I think art is about feelings and if you put them into your work, people will definitely feel that.
GEORGIA: What is your advice for emerging artists? How do you stay authentic in a space that is changing so rapidly?
ZHUK: Wow, that’s a difficult question. I am always surprised by artists who manage to work and be constantly online. Perhaps they have a secret sauce that they don’t share. The main thing is to remain authentic to your own feelings and vision, creating honestly from the bottom of your heart. Some people say that they don’t understand art, but I think art is about feelings and if you put them into your work, people will definitely feel that.
GEORGIA: Gaelle is one of my favorite pieces, of course. You write about the gift of spiritual support and the opportunity to make lives brighter. Can you talk a little bit more about what spiritual support means to you?
ZHUK: For me, spiritual support is the bond between me and the people who are dear to me, even if I don’t know them personally. For example, my audience – people who are interested in what I do, a musician I listen to, or the director of the film that I watch. I am convinced that every single person needs a sense of support, as it is an irreplaceable source of energy that makes it possible to accomplish the most important things in our lives. Gaelle is dedicated to the unique gift sent to us from up above.
I am convinced that every single person needs a sense of support, as it is an irreplaceable source of energy that makes it possible to accomplish the most important things in our lives.
GEORGIA: You’ve also talked about a lot of really profound and universal topics, like freedom of thoughts, human expression, being the savior of your own soul and body. Tell us more about your own life philosophies and where these topics come from. What message are you trying to send?
ZHUK: Artists, musicians, poets and other artistic professions are a kind of a conduit for certain feelings that their works leave in us. I want to give the viewer a feeling of lightness, love and hope, immersing the viewer in the reality of what is happening—which may not always be positive—but at the same time giving them a light and a possible way out of it. I believe that the world is oftentimes full of difficulties and cruelty, so art should be a therapy and bring us Faith in the best.
GEORGIA: Give us a preview of your upcoming piece with AOTM? What is it about?
My latest work, Capture of Bathsheba, is a story about how beauty can be fragile, but at the same time, it can have an incredible power to make the greatest things in life happen.