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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.