Meet the artist: an interview with Anna Kriger


Meet the artist: an interview with Anna Kriger

Anna Kriger is Skylark Galleries’ newest artist. Anna lived her first thirteen years in Russia, the following thirteen in America and moved to London in 2012. Her paintings explore the unique view of the world this experience has given her.

She tells Skylark Galleries about her paintings, which reflect an exhaustive search for sources of beauty and provide a brief glimpse into human nature, and how her influences are drawn from places she has lived.

How has your practice changed over time?

My practice, as well as ideas behind it, is something I love discussing with other artists and practitioners. Do they also prefer natural light? Is it possible for them to work from home? How many cups of coffee to have in the morning to achieve the perfect state of sustained focus without tipping over into over caffeinated jitters.

Every artist must find the time and space that is conducive to creativity and it takes a lifetime of refinement.

What painting means to me

Painting, for me, is a daily process and practice. A way to digest and work through information. It is not all positive, it is also a way to confront oneself with one’s personality flaws: my lack of patience sometimes leads to me having to sand a painting down or start over by stretching a new canvas.  

I am also a devoted fan on the pomidoro method. It is a great way of cutting down on procrastination. It really works! And as long as the process is there, daily, it becomes like a scaffold to accessing the real creative self and allows the change to happen imperceptibly, incrementally (painfully so!)   but inevitably. 

What jobs have you done other than being an artist?

For a while in my twenties I had different roles in the corporate world. It was a great lesson in appearance and politics. Art is also about appearance but in the corporate world form is always valued over content.

I was not a good fit, because I kept asking questions, trying to get to the deeper meaning behind the facade. Why are we here? Does it make one happy? Are we making anyone happy with these spreadsheets or just creating more unnecessary work for other people to do? This was viewed as subversive and unhelpful.

What I learned from the corporate world

Although two good things came out of my experience: after sitting at my desk all day, I simply had to do something to stretch my body and get out of my head, and so I developed a yoga practice.

And the second good thing was the realisation that I was solely responsible for the sources of meaning and happiness in my life. 

What memorable responses have you had to your work?

The artist performs only one part of the creative process. The onlooker completes it, and it is the onlooker that has the last word.” Marcel Duchamp

As Duchamp implies in the above quote, it takes at least two brains to create a work of art. The artist does 50% and then the other 50% happens in the brain of the viewer.

Active listening valuable to artists

Just like in conversation, it is the quality of the other person’s active listening that will determine how well one is able to communicate. In this way, we need to interpret each other in positive ways, in order to live fuller, more meaningful lives.

I love hearing what people have to say about my work. After all, if any artist is to claim they make more than ephemeral junk, another human has to actualise its value. Unlike a commodity which can be compared with other commodities, and therefore claim value, art is valuable because it cannot be compared with other art. Any responses I  get from people about my art are also individual and meaningful and I value them deeply.

What has been a seminal experience?

Moving from Russia to America at a young age and then from America to England as a young adult has been a very creative and life altering experience.

The process of learning another new culture and operating under a new set of assumptions and expectations was, to me, also a process of learning about myself, my expectations and cultural assumptions.

Stepping into the shoes of others aids perspective

Whether we admit it or not, we are all created by what’s around us and it sometimes takes real effort to see things from another point of view.  

I had to create myself as a person with each move. It is an experience unlike anything else in life. You are just a small system operating in a large system but when that system breaks down and forces you to reintegrate and recreate yourself,  it can lead to actual objectivity about oneself.

By being an outsider, one can allow the past to fall away and accept that predicting the future is impossible. In comparing the cultures one can hopefully see with some clarity which roles are assigned by the outside structure and which is integral to oneself. Ultimately it prepares one for a life as an artist,  as a lifetime of accepting both failure and success with some equanimity. 

Anna’s work is available from Skylark Galleries in Gabriel’s Wharf.

You can also see a selection of Anna’s work on our website

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