Kseniya Baranova was born in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine and currently lives and works in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. She works primarily in oil and acrylic on canvas as well as watercolor on cotton rag paper. We checked in with her to get a little background on her inspiration and artistic process.
GR: You have an interesting point of departure for when you fully committed to your work and pursuing it. Tell us more about that moment.
KB: I was living in Venice, Italy for a summer study abroad program for a couple months and it coincided with the Venice Biennale. I saw these amazing, sculptural boats parked off of one of the smaller islands – turns out it was a group of Brooklyn-based artists that Swoon had gotten together. Together they were the called Swimming Cities, and they were a spectacular (and uninvited) hit of the summer. I was enamored with their lifestyle, diversity, and ambition and threw myself into finding a sustainable practice. That was ten years ago. I’ve had to find a way to fit my own practice in a purposeful way with the rest of my life, but the ideas of collaboration, intention and mobility are still an essential drive.
GR: Collaborative sculptural boats in Venice do sound very inspiring. What is it that draws you specifically to painting?
KB: There’s a never-ending experimentation with painting, yet it is grounded in theory and technique. Also – Helen Frankenthaler.
GR: Enough said, Frankenthaler is a painting force to be reckoned with. I can see a broad and painterly mark-making in your work that connects with hers. What are you working on currently?
KB: A series of abstract works featuring flora and ancient myth. I’ve been working a lot with fluidity and weight in these pieces.
GR: What’s on the horizon for you artistically?
KB: I am hosting watercolor classes this summer for both children as well as adults. It’s fun, and gives me space to explore with others. I am also planning to travel north and continue my current series – deriving new variations through observations of nature.
GR: Sounds like collaboration and interaction are very meaningful in your practice. Do social issues and current events also play a role in your work at all?
KB: The project that has been most meaningful to me so far was actually a book of collaborations of art and poetry that was mailed between who is a writer and myself. It was surprising, intense, and wondrous. It’s hard keeping these thoughts about current issues from entering my head space when I am creating. I think art does not need to be reactionary, and I try to be intentional – some things always slip through though!
GR: Right, art is never happening in a vacuum. What, if anything, would you change about how you work or what you’re creating?
KB: I would give myself more time with the work before moving on to the next – there’s never enough time in this city.
GR: I know it all too well. Thank you, Kseniya.
Check out Kseniya’s work here