Moscow-born painter Valentina Kisseleva has a little difficulty putting a name on her style of work. "My style is different now than it was 10 years ago. I've been moving away from Social Realism and creating a new style," she tells us in a thick Russian accent. "It's my own style. I like a lot of artists from the past; I was always inspired by artists like Renoir, Cezanne, and Van Gogh, but I don't follow the style of these artists exactly. I like to create something new, so it's my style."
Just a few days before the opening of her latest local exhibit, "Valentina Kisseleva: Midsummer Dream," Kisseleva tells us she hopes her paintings "talk" to viewers.
"I like to consider my work as visual poetry; I want to provoke emotive reactions. It's more bright colors and more emotional. I use a lot of lines, a lot of shapes. I like to show that a painting isn't only silent, it can talk about something, make a noise, make music."
The "Midsummer Dream" exhibit, slated for a four-month run at the Russian Cultural Center, is a collection of work she's completed over the last five years. Kisseleva had another exhibit last January based on the same body of work. "A few of those paintings have already been sold, so I added a few new pieces. It won't be the same exact show."
What She Does: "I'm an fine art artist. I have two degrees in art. One is in fine art, one is in graphic design. What I'm working on and showing in the exhibit at the [Russian Cultural Center] is fine art."
What Inspires Her: "When artists start to do a painting, they have different reasons, different ways. For me, what inspires me is a strong [experience], most often in real life. For example, I did a painting of a comet. I saw a comet and the fire coming from the tail. That inspired me to do a painting.
"Other times a good movie or a good song inspires a feeling in me and that feeling eventually becomes a painting. Colors inspire me, too."
Why She Likes It: "I like to express myself, to share my feelings and ideas with other people.
"Artists don't need to talk a lot. The paintings should talk with the viewer. That way the viewer can have their own response, whatever it is. Maybe it's what I think about when I'm working on the painting, but maybe not. Both ways, it's fine."
If Not This, Then What: "I would probably be a writer. I like to write." Kisseleva has already published one memoir and has another one planned.
If Not Here, Then Where: Asked where else she might like to live at this point in her life, Kisseleva laughs, "On planet Earth? Or somewhere in the galaxy? On Earth, I would like to live where there's more art, like Paris or Italy. I visit Italy and was so impressed with it; it's a beautiful country."
What's Next: The exhibit "Valentina Kisseleva: Midsummer Dream" opens at the Russian Cultural Center December 20 and runs through March. After that, Kisseleva says she has another exhibit at the Houston Public Library planned. Unlike "Midsummer Dream," which is made up of work she completed in the last five years, the planned exhibit will feature older works.
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"In the past I painted scenes of people who survived the Communist era in the Soviet Union; some of them my family members, some people I knew."
There's an opening reception for "Valentina Kisseleva: Midsummer Dream" at 7:30 p.m. December 20. The artist will be in attendance. Regular gallery hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. Through March 7. Russian Cultural Center Our Texas, 2337 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-395-3301 or visit the center's website. Free.
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