Yaroslava Tichshenko:

Our Environment

Does Not Define Us


The Russian Ark  Do you remember your first encounter with art? 

Yaroslava Tichshenko  Yes, I remember it very well. It happened in St. Petersburg, Russia, to which I travelled for entrance exams for the Saint Petersburg Art Academy.

It was my first time abroad and my first time alone in a big city with such gorgeous architecture. I obviously wanted to visit all the world-famous art meccas – Hermitage and the Russian Museum – but due to lack of courage at first, I was avoiding their unprecedented accumulation of art treasures. 

So, one day I dared to visit a temporary exhibition at the Russian Museum dedicated to Konstantin Korovin and Valentin Serov. Then and there, in front of Serov's drawing of the Botkin sisters, I experienced my "Stendhal syndrome". I stood in the exhibition hall with tears running down my cheeks – it was too beautiful to take in at once. Naïve and tender teenager that I was, the emotion was very sincere.  Now it is almost funny and embarrassing to recall this.

Серов Сестры Боткина.jpg

Valentin Serov, Portrait of the children of S.S.Botkin, 1900

Artwork © State Russian Museum 

RA  Where did you spend your childhood? Did it influence your artistic practice? 

YT  Rather no, than yes. In my case, I had a negative correlation, because the environment did not nurture my needs and pushed me to search for beauty elsewhere. I was born in a small mining satellite town, and no one in my family had ever done anything creative. This might have given me a raw, unfiltered, open perception of the world. I absorbed everything that was somehow connected with art. I considered it imperative to leave, and to go to a big city with cultural infrastructure.

This was indeed necessary at the formation stage, but once I found my creative voice, the geographic location did not matter as much: I carry all I need within me. 

Artwork © 2020 Yaroslava Tichshenko

"The goal is to avoid the painting looking tortured and over-worked. It needs to look effortless, like you managed to paint it in one go, deftly."


RA  What excites you the most in the painting process?

YT   What is very important is the freshness of the work. It does not always come easy. The goal is to avoid the painting looking tortured and over-worked. It needs to look effortless, like you managed to paint it in one go, deftly. For this reason, I often pause my work for a while (sometimes months, sometimes years). I look at it later and then either correct it, change it or add to it. Or, if I still am unable to grasp that effortless aura, I discard it.

The chromatic impact of the painting is also of great importance to me, as I do not like modern brown paintings (old masters are a different story) and I avoid that in every possible way. In fact, I can't even see in that brown manner; my vision is very chromatic, and so are my paintings.

Photo: Courtesy of the artist

Copyright © 2020 @etamorette

RA  Which great masters paved the way for you and influenced the way you think about your art?

YT  I get inspired by many artists. For example, for my recent laconic still lives, I deeply studied the figurative paintings of Morandi, Weisberg, and Rauchverger. I am also amazed by the picturesque power and truthfulness of Konchalovsky and Mashkov.

I like very much the coloured silver hues of El Greco, the bravura of Velazquez.

However, the work of Bonnard and Vuillard is closest to me now. Recently, I read another biography of Cézanne and was amazed at his inner stubbornness in the desire to create “his own” art. I relate to each artist’s biography I read, it teaches a lot on both life and painting.  

two blue, two yellow.JPG

Yaroslava Tichshenko, Two Blue, Two Yellow © 2020 Yaroslava Tichshenko

RA  What is “good taste”?

YT  It’s a lifelong path. The concept is so subjective. In my opinion, taste consists primarily of selectiveness, colour harmony and nontrivial composition.

RA  Which painting you could look at the whole life without getting tired?