I love these beautiful drawings and animation work of Rimma Arslanov, who combines autobiographical elements of her childhood, her experience as an immigrant and moving frequently, and now her new experience of motherhood. I'm captivated by her dreamlike, delicate, architectural works on paper, as well as her recent work in stop-motion animation (one of the videos is below!) which are wonderfully mysterious. Here she shares some thoughts on her work and life as an artist!
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Hello Rimma! First, can you tell me a bit about yourself?
I am an artist, woman, and a new mother for my cute baby girl Carmel.
I see that you split your time between Dusseldorf and Tel Aviv. Where are you from originally, and where did you study?
I was born in Tajikistan and grew up in Uzbekistan (my family moved there when I was two years old). In 2000 I immigrated to Israel, and for three years I have lived in Dusseldorf. I studied ceramics in Uzbekistan, and in Israel I studied contemporary art at Avni Institute and Hamidrasha School of Art. These days I have a studio in Dusseldorf and Tel Aviv.
What first interested you in pursuing art?
I always wanted to be an artist, since I was six years old. For me, to be an artist is sometimes like being a sorcerer: I can create a world of my own as I wish and imagine. I also have always seen the world visually, and I guess that's my way to process and understand myself and my encounters with the outside. And in a simple way, I just love it!
I'm very drawn to your interest in combining personal experience with a blend of cultural influences. Can you tell me more about how you approach this in your practice?
When I am traveling, going to residencies or exhibitions around the world, I always find myself attracted to new visual elements which I don't know, and I grasp them into my own world. In a new place I observe and am aware, in a very open state of mind, which is crucial to my artistic process. When I see something that I like, I usually take pictures. Very often I find myself fascinated by the architecture, since for me it usually contains layers of history and memories of the singular as well as the collective. Later on in my studio, I combine those new inspirations into my works, together with my memories from my own biography. Sometime I feel that in my works I try to process my experience as an immigrant and to collect memory pieces from my childhood.
What is your process like? How do you plan for, or begin, a new piece or series?
It depends on the medium I work with. With drawing it's more intuitive. Sometimes I am looking at pictures I have and taking some elements from them, and then I just draw and continue to build the composition. With a sculpture or objects, it works differently. First I have an idea, then I develop it, make sketches and plan every aspect of it, and only then I do it.
What is your studio or workspace like?
It is simple: table for paper works, table for sculpting. Shelves with materials and art works. A wall with some inspiration pictures and some ideas. I like it clean, and with a lot of light. And in the last few months there are also some baby toys.
Do you have any particularly significant influences, or mentors or teachers who have impacted your work?
Yes of course. I very much like Claes Oldenburg, Annette Messager, Louise Bourgeois. Mike Kelley, Grayson Perry, Thomas Schutte,… it can be a long list. And also I have some teachers from Israel (Galia Yahav, Tamar Raban) that really impacted my work.
Your practice also spans works on paper, video, and sculpture. Do you find that you emphasize any medium over others, or have a favorite? Why or why not?
I think sculpting is my favorite; I like very much to work with clay. I like the feeling of touching and building a physical object. I'm very excited about the fact that I'm able to make video animation works, since it combines everything that I love. For me, it's like a large moving installation in a small scale.
What is the most difficult or challenging aspect of pursuing an art practice? How have you overcome, or do you work to overcome that?
The harder thing for me it is to promote myself. I'm dealing with it by just doing it technically.
If you could give some advice to a student just started to pursue art, what would you tell them?
Just love it, hate it, and continue doing it.
What is the most rewarding aspect of doing what you do, or what compels you to continue making?
Sometimes when I finish a new work that I'm satisfied with, it feels like being in love. But I think what compels me more is that making art gives me a sense of meaning, especially when it touches others.
Do you have any upcoming exhibitions or projects you're developing?
These days I'm working on some plans for large sculptures and a new video animation, and I need time for that. I participated recently in some group shows, and I guess soon enough I'll be ready to show again.
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