Oksana graduated from the Moscow Textile Academy (designer department).
For 5 years she worked as the feature arts and fashion journalist and stylist in ELLE Russia and in some other Russian magazines as well.
In 2011 Oksana graduated from the Academic School of Design (Moscow), painting Studio of Andrew Voskanyan (participant of the Venice Contemporary Art Biennale).
She took part in many joint exhibitions of the St Petersburg Artists.
Paintings of Oxana Raduga (nickname Raduga, in Russian means Rainbow) are in private collections in the USA, UK, Ireland, Finland, Czech, Italy, Greece, Germany.
I always admire women – the creatures of God. I let myself to write my own poem in arts reflecting female looks.
I am happy when magician images occur.
I am trying to mix the traditional way of depicting women’s beauty with the modern contemporary look. I use different materials and experimenting a lot.
I love collages , love mixing acrilyc with liners and markers – that is echo of modern murals.
My favourite material now is acrylic – it is very modern and allows to “catch the moment”.
I would like sending messages The Powerful Woman to my viewer in an ironic way
This is a strong feministic slogan of the woman artist.
You were saying that you pay attention to the beauty of the female lines and female spirituality. And that this refers to #MeToo movement and objectification of women. Could you expand on that, and tell me more about your process of sending a message through your art in regards to this subject?
Raduga: The theme of objectification of women in arts has been living in arts since 20th and through the 21st century. I actually love the way the Impressionist artists Edgar Degas and Lautrec show us the plastics of the female body. Degas invited models to his studio and asked them to exist in everyday things but mostly nude. All that we now call live sketching.
Since the digital era has allowed objectification to be radically transformed, it can’t stop even now. Artists still show us the beautiful curves of feminine beings. Though in a patriarchal society the images of the female body take us to men’s wishes. It is not good and it is not bad. One can find attractive very big breasts and another very big backside. We are all human beings whose sexual life exists but of course sometimes it is underestimated.
A month ago my artwork from the series “Laces of Love” (showing a woman in lace underwear but with some kind of men’s instruments like a hammer) was purchased by an Arabian man in London. It means he had been impressed with this idea – beautiful body and an image of a hammer altogether. We know what Muslim traditions think about the Image of a strong woman. A woman who knows what she wants. She can bend like a willow but never break. In my head, I am sending admiration mixed with humor. Women shouldn’t be assigned a secondary and subordinate role attributed to negative and aggressive ways. Yes, I take attention to the female figure but with an emphasis. You have to present your arts with humor. I would say it lessens the pathos degree. My paintings actually exist with an ironic subtext. This way of artist’s philosophy is closer to me. Irony does not imply aggression, but only a smile. And most of all you can distinguish if it is your art or not. I would like to continue in this arts discourse.
I would like to belong to female artists who have the courage to say something important to the world. For example, the idea of supporting women who have experienced violence is a very important theme in Russia. There are crisis centers “Against violence” created for women being in heavy family situations and they work really hard!
I am so sorry but #MeToo movement doesn’t fit as a global idea for my country. We even have no official laws in corporate culture concerning harassment. The world is probably experiencing the third or fourth wave of feminism and now it is called this way. And we see that social networks are the main force in the world.
You’ve said “We are just weak copyists of reality” But I find your art really unique. Of course, I know what you mean, but I’m interested to know more about your technique as well as a connection between your inspiration and transferring it to artwork.
Raduga: We are just ‘copyists’…These are Picasso’s words. He is a treasure about messages to artists. And I love another one. “Arts is the best way to take off dust from everyday life”. While studying at the Repin Academy (I continue to attend evening drawing classes and private painting classes) I am getting a unique experience that gives me the opportunity to move forward. Academic education is the first thing an artist needs before intruding into contemporary experiments. Respectful attitude to Line and Spot, to Color and Light. My expert opinion in the field of fashion and cinema also supports my art view. When you get such kind of cocktail you reveal something new in the field of contemporary arts.
Do you have a real-life situation that inspired your artwork?
Raduga: I hope I do not belong to artists who simply fix the life of a society of endless consumption just to survive. Sometimes an artist actually needs material help. As my drawing teacher used to say: ” an artist would rather be hungry…” and remembering Van Gogh. But it is more a joke nowadays. But the truth is lying close. You can not be honest with the world when you are lazy and do not go out from comfort zone. I try to look around. I try to notice curious things and fix them in my head to present in my live sketches. Thank god I have a rich writer’s imagination. By the way, I write stories and poems, they are as if the call of my soul. But these are also responses from my ex-journalist job. Imagination helps me to model visual situations in art. For example, one of the last series is dedicated to Frida as an artist and as a strong-willed person. I put myself in her place. Would be I able to work like this endlessly in bed and suffering? The answer is more yes than no. So I have shown my Frida as a Pirate – one of her eyes with a blindfold. She was very bold and daring. Two artworks about Frida are also in private collections in UK.
What are some of the stories behind your work?
Raduga: Fortunately I belong to those who get pleasure from making art. Storytelling is the main part of it. I can’t live without it. It’s a responsibility before God in some way to show people their best sides. After all, this is one of the great quotes. If you can’t write don’t write, don’t clog up the paper.
One of my favorite stories is the Story about the Modern Mermaid. And this is exactly a story about feminism and the duality of woman’s nature.
I love sports, swimming, I love the sea, I love fairy tales by Andersen. Here comes the story out of all. A mermaid in my story is a woman who has become addicted to a man (hello, the #metoo movement). He is her husband or lover, let’s say, he is a very busy man. He is afraid of losing such a unique woman and he requires her to stay at home. She lives in his bathroom. She wants freedom but she craves for luxury as well. And legs are a real luxury for her. This is her strongest desire besides expensive dresses, shoes, and bags. This is quite in the spirit of a modern woman. She wants to earn money day and night, but she wants a family, she wants to have an irrational love but she is calculating…. Is it not a contemporary tale??
How do you keep your ideas fresh?
Raduga: I am trying to follow exhibitions in St. Petersburg endlessly. Hermitage and Russian Museum, contemporary galleries are my friends. Sometimes I hurry to the Hermitage to look at only one artist, for example, I love looking at the favorite work “Florus” by Francesco Melzi, who was an associate of Da Vinci. Some art critics consider “Flora” to be his hand. Or I go to the Rembrandt hall and look at his unique technique of light. From time to time I visit museums in Moscow. I loved so much the last exhibition of British posters at the Museum of Fine Arts. It was a fresh look at the retro illustration. Famous Soviet and Russian artist Robert Falk hit me at the Tretyakov Gallery and I have opened several new positive color combinations.
One of my guilty pleasures is drawing sketches of people even in public transport or in cafes and restaurants. My sketchbook is always with me in my “shopping” bag. I would call it psychological sketches. In summer I do a lot of sketches on the beach… I enjoy the life of couples and children. It gives me incredible energy and brings freshness to my future artworks!
To be honest I really suffer from the fact that the borders have been closed due to the pandemic. I will succumb and continue traveling inside Russia seeking for new impressions. Soon there will be Caucasian mountains. We loved visiting Finland during previous times before the pandemic and I even participated once in the Art Fair Helsinki. Right now Finnish people are preparing the Bienniale Contemporary art exhibition of contemporary art on the island of Vallisaare. I would like very much to visit at least by August but the situation is still in “lockdown”. It is a very big part of my inspiration to watch the work of young artists full of enthusiasm and good audacity.
What’s the most challenging part of your artistic process? And how do you overcome it?
Raduga: It is very difficult for me to answer this question because I do everything very very quickly. And the whole process is one big challenge. Perhaps I should slow the art process. If you mean technique the most challenging is to create the right composition. My teacher used to say: “ The composition is love confession”. This is a difficult question!
You say you sell most of your art online, and most of the buyers are from the US. And you say your mission is “International”, and I think you are doing great. But there’s something you’ve said I found really interesting; you’ve said: “Russian arts is a very complex organism”. Could you expand on that thought?
Raduga: Or maybe we don’t have the courage, but this is the problem of my generation (generation X) or the result of education. Or I just don’t feel the need for such self-expression. Therefore, I will not be naked in the master class, sanctify the pictures with sperm or menstrual blood, write fuck on different parts of the body. But young artists do who draw attention to social issues of the feminist agenda, including for PR. This is the way from the evil from one side. But it is actually necessary for those artists who are engaged in contemporary arts, which has already established some way in Russia. You can meet interesting young artists and curators. These are the “millennial” and “zoom” generations and let’s be honest, these are the women who can invest in their promotion.
What do you see? If you take the top 50 artists in Europe and America, only 5-7 percent are women who actually earn several million or more on Sotheby’s auctions.
So far, a contemporary does not make a profit in Russian reality, but it requires huge investments.
Our women would rather open a beauty salon or earn money with Aliexpress where they find “fast money”. We can not blame them. Instagram helps them a lot.
What can I say about Instagram? Women themselves choose a sexualized image as a reference here. They are ready to objectify themselves, they like to appear desirable and uninhibited, attractive to men. So much for objectification. Where is it more- online or offline?
What is next for you?
Raduga: I am working now on a new series of works with women – pop icons and style icons. The first one is Marilyn Monroe. By the way, we celebrate her 95 birthday on the 1st, June. The starting point is the phrase “New babes New Rules”.