An Exclusive Interview With Katerina Belkina
Lens Magazine|October 2021
My face and body are the main instruments I use to incarnate the images I want. Standing in front of the camera as a model, I follow the age-old theatrical playing roles.
It gives impetus to the development of my own manner of narration. A part of my work, shooting, is akin to a theatrical performance. An urge to tell the viewer about emotions and feelings manifests itself through the characters in dialogues with the audience.

Early on, Katerina Belkina (b. 1974) knew about her exceptional talent to see the world through different eyes. Born in Samara in the southeast of European Russia, she was raised in a creative atmosphere by her mother, a visual artist. Her education at the Art Academy and the School for Photography of Michael Musorin in Samara gave her the tools to visualize her ideas. Exhibitions of her sublime, mystic self-portraits ensued in Moscow and Paris. Katerina Belkina was nominated for the prestigious Kandinsky Prize (comparable to the British Turner Prize) in Moscow in 2007. In addition, she won the International Lucas Cranach Award 2015 and the prestigious Hasselblad Masters Prize in 2016.

Towards the upcoming Discovery Art Fair in Frankfurt this November, where Katerina will exhibit limited editions from two of her latest projects, we enjoyed interviewing this fascinating artist and presenting three of her series, which made waves in the art world.

Personal Identity, 2016 Archival Pigment Print 100 x 70 cm 39 3/8 x 27 1/2 in Edition of 8 plus 2 artist's proofs Series: Revival Katerina Belkina © All rights reserved.

It has always been fascinating to explore the psychology of people's relationships with each other and with the outside world, to give shape to human emotions. For example, to take joy, despondency, indifference, rapture, and jealousy to pieces. Feelings are abstract; therefore, it is so interesting to look for and find the form of their visualization.

Lens Magazine: Many thanks, Katerina, for taking the time for this interview. It's a pleasure to feature your unique photography style.

Let's start with your background in Art and Photography. Can you share with Lens Magazine's readers your journey? What was the main thing that drew you into being a professional artist? Did you come from a creative family?

Katerina Belkina: Thank you, It's a pleasure having this interview. Yes, I grew up in an artistic environment; most of my family members are artists or mathematicians; among them, most of the men in my family were so passionate about photography, and I inherited a boundless interest in photography from them. As a child, I signed up for a photography course, kind of a photography children club, where I learned to shoot on film, develop it myself, and print. A bit later, I got my first camera. I was fortunate to receive so much passion and love for the arts from my mother, a fabulous painter herself. I used to practice in both fields, drawing and photography, and during the years, I started to develop my own artistic style and technique, which I see as a unique method of communication with a viewer.

Receiving Orders. Salome and St. John, 2017 Archival Pigment Print 100 x 72 cm 39 3/8 x 28 3/8 in Edition of 8 plus 2 artist's proofs Series: Revival Katerina Belkina © All rights reserved.

Right Page: Entreaty, 2015 Archival Pigment Print 100 x 78 cm 39 3/8 x 30 3/4 in Edition of 8 plus 2 artist's proofs Series: Revival Katerina Belkina © All rights reserved.

Lens Magazine: Can you describe the workflow of your creation from the point of the concept to the final outcome?

Katerina Belkina: In the beginning, I find myself in some strong emotions connected with the circumstance and place. This is the starting point. Then I want to translate these emotions into the plane of utterance. At that very moment, when I realize what kind of character I have to be for creating the artwork or a project, and what kind of task is in front of me in this particular story, then all that remains is to create a new world for the character or figures. Then some research begins and the wave of insights. What, where, how. The brain raises questions and solves these tasks instantly. I flow with the energy and let my brain chooses the answers the world intended to. Sometimes it feels as if I do not even have to invest the time to half-think; ideas just float to the surface. I just need to select the most suitable details and ideas. This is such a quest. I'm getting more and more excited by it all. During this period, I had a lot of daydreaming and sometimes did some sketches. After all, discoveries usually come in their imaginary visual way, then I do the shooting, and then I continue to the digital drawing.

Lens Magazine: What can you tell us about the postproduction/editing of the images? What kind of programs are you using? Do you do the post-production yourself?

Katerina Belkina: My art is a digital painting based on photography. First, I shoot, combine several frames into one in Photoshop, and then start the painting on the top in additional layers, as if I was painting with real brushes and oil paint. But I paint it in the program. I work a lot to create and add many details that are not existing in the original photos, so here, my skills in drawing get the full meaning. This long drawing process usually takes over one month for each artwork.

The Sinner, 2014 Archival Pigment Print 100 x 70 cm 39 3/8 x 27 1/2 in Edition of 8 plus 2 artist's proofs Series: Revival

Right Page: Duo, 2015 Archival Pigment Print 100 x 70 cm 39 3/8 x 27 1/2 in Edition of 8 plus 2 artist's proofs Series: Revival Katerina Belkina © All rights reserved.

REVIVAL 2014 - 2017

Revival is a series of allegories about the Neo-Renaissance, which speak of the revival of interest in the spiritual, a kind of awakening. Rough materialism is weakening, and humanity is more and more willing to turn to humanism and spiritual progress. Naturally, this affects individuals’ interests. Self-education and self-discovery in the context of concern for society, for the world, is almost becoming the most important “hobby”. Belief in higher forces, in a higher destiny, is a vital need of the psyche, therefore man seeks new incarnations or tries to transform the existent ones. As mankind keeps returning to this search in the process of history, this cyclicity leads us to new stages of development.

Therefore, this series is based on symbols and metaphors. I take the visual images of the Renaissance and put them together into new constructions that modern man can understand. The baby is in the maternal womb or in the hands of the parents, which for me means that “we are in the hands of our fate”. My connection to Renaissance art is a balance between spirituality and matter.

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