The Gridnevs: The Dynasty of Russian Painters
Apart from being a family, Valeriy Gridnev, his wife Ekaterina and their son Fyodor have another thing in common – they are all painters. They came to the UK from Russian way back in 1999 and since then each of the Gridnev tribe have found their own way into the business. Katya, the wife and mother, focuses on the young women dancers of a leading Russian ballet school. Valeriy, husband and father, is the classic portraitist. The son, Fyodor, raised mostly in England, comes from left-field. He might have been a radical architect, but after the Architectural Association in London, he turned to the maritime Crimea. RussianMind spoke to Ekaterina Gridneva to find out how artistic natures get along with each other in the one family:
RM: Ekaterina, you are the painter as well as your husband Valeriy and your son Fyodor. Is it difficult for people of the same occupation to get along well?
EG: Not at all, in fact I think because of this we have more in common it helps us to communicate and understand each other better.
RM: Do you often have creative disputes while working and do they continue at home?
EG: Even though we all work together we are still each doing our own thing so there is no real cause for a creative dispute, however there is a lot of critique which can be harsh sometimes but always absolutely honest and helps me to stay sharp.
RM: Very often spouses who have the same occupation start competing with each other, trying to prove who is better. Does it happen to you and your husband?
EG: With this sort of work, you can’t help it, you are always trying to do better. I am always trying to improve my work so I compete with myself and other artists including my husband. But this spirit of competition is what keeps me from stagnation so it is a very important element of our work.
RM: Did you both influence your son Fyodor in choosing painting as his profession? Or was it totally his initiative?
EG: Fedor always made up his own mind about things he wanted to do. He always was passionate about painting but he also wanted to explore other creative fields. He studied architecture at the Architectural Association school of architecture and graduated last spring.
RM: You are painting different things –portraits, ethereal dancers, nude studies and dockland scenes. How would you name your style?
EG: Each of us has a distinct way of painting, it would be too restrictive to subscribe to a specific style. It feels that if you put a label on your work you’re limiting you own artistic development. In my opinion artwork should be appreciated on its own merit, branding helps to miss subtleties of work by evoking cruder associations with a group of other unrelated works.
RM: These days art is turning in an aggressive direction, displaying provocation and very often causing negative feelings. Looking at your paintings there is a feeling of absolute calm and pacification. Do you think art should evoke in people a positive mood rather than a negative one?
EG: Art is entertainment and is a matter of personal taste. I think art should evoke a whole range of emotions.
RM: Why did you leave Russia in 1999? Did you ever think of going back?
EG: We never really left Russia, we have a studio in St. Petersburg and we constantly travel there and back.
RM: Do you think in Russia there are appropriate conditions for painters to work?
EG: There is a very large artistic community in Russia with a lot of history and a strong connection to Russian culture.
RM: What is the best suggestion for young gifted Russian artists who want to develop their creative intentions?
EG: It’s almost impossible to give this sort of advice; everyone has to find their own way of development that’s what makes artists unique and different from each other. The only thing I can remark is that an artist always has to be critical of his own work and not to get too comfortable with it, that is what drives us to improve all the time.
RM: What is your main source of inspiration?
EG: I get inspired by beauty of the human body. I work with dancers because in my opinion they achieve the ultimate in refinement and grace.ShareThis