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Heroine's Journey of Nina Tokhtaman Valetova

Imterview with Nina Tokhtaman Valetova by Peter de Kuster

What is the best thing that I love about my work?
      The best thing about my work is that I can do something independent of the others, and create something special, different from what already exists. The work process is creative and allows imagination, and fantasy to spread their wings and fly, leaving behind routine, and problems of daily life. Also, art is an opportunity for self-expression, which is very important.
What is my idea of perfect happiness? 
     My idea of great happiness is bringing dreams to life. Success and achievements in the profession, family well-being, love, and the opportunity to have the kind of life that you would like to have, are components of great happiness.

What is my greatest fear?  
     I have many fears. It is difficult for me to list all of them. On the one hand, I can take risks and do very bold deeds, but there exists, in my inner world, a little child with great fears. My fears are different and depend on various aspects of life and activity. In my childhood, after the death of my mother, when I was 8 years old, I felt a strong fear of losing my father. Now, I'm worried about my children.
  I am afraid of cruel and rude people and their interference in my life.  I am afraid that I will not have time to fully be realized as an artist, and bring my creative ideas to life.

What is the trait that I most deplore in myself?  
     It happened several times in my life, when my hesitation, and fear, of going beyond the boundaries of my points of view and stereotypes, impacted me,  in that I could not to change my life cardinally. I'm too conservative to change the way of my life.

Which living persons in my profession do I most admire?
     Time separates the wheat from the chaff, and, as a result, some famous, successful people are forgotten. On the contrary, some artists who were not very famous to contemporaries, in their time, are becoming famous. Therefore, It is very difficult to choose living artists, whom I admire. Until recently, I was impressed by the architecture of Zaha Hadid. Unfortunately, she left our world a few years ago. I like some art works by Yayoi Kusama.

What is my greatest extravagance?  
     I am a very inconspicuous person and in no way different from many people. My lifestyle, my clothes, my habits are the same as with many people around. Probably it's hard to say that I'm an artistic person in my way of life, but my inner world has its own characteristics. Despite the circumstances, that have prevented me from realizing my dreams as an artist, I remained faithful to art. People who did not understand art considered this extravagant and far from reality.

On what occasion would I lie?  
     I am quite an honest person and do not like to lie, but there are circumstances when bold, complete honesty is unnecessary, and may be damaging, or counter-productive.  I am convinced that you should not humiliate and tell a child that he did not do a good job, or did something wrong. Teaching art, especially to children, is in this category on the side of positive reinforcement, rather than discouragement.  Also, I cannot write, on Facebook,  a bad comment on the work of other artists, when they ask me to write my opinion, even if I do not like their artworks. Bad reviews do not encourage, and make people doubt their abilities.

What is the thing that I dislike the most in my work?  
     I do not like to start working with a new painting. On the canvas, at first, the spots and lines are chaotic, random. Also, some details are not yet clear. Some chaos is, not only on the canvas, but also in the artist's mind . Sometimes you have to change a lot in the creative process

When and where was I the happiest, in my work? 
      I have been happiest, during  3 to 4 years in the Moscow region,  and, also,  Norfolk Virginia, when I could completely paint and not think about my survival. In New York,  I have had to take other work, to survive... I have been happy when I successfully accomplished my ideas in paintings, especially when I was painting in a new style for me.

If I could, what  would I change about myself ?
     I would like to change my age and condition of health, to choose the way of living, experiencing life.  I know many people want the same thing. Some of this is wishing for the impossible.   Some of this is aspiring towards possible change.

What is my greatest achievement in work? 
     My paintings were acquired by collectors and art lovers. My art has attracted the attention of art magazines. My paintings, and interviews with me, have been published in many art magazines. Also, an international art critic, Alberto Moioli, wrote an article where he gave a review, and made an analysis of my paintings.

Where would I most like to live? 
     I would like to live very close to a big city with many art galleries, collectors, and at the same time in a big house with a studio surrounded by a garden close to nature.

What is my most treasured possession?
     The most treasured possession for me is life. If there is no longer my life, nothing will matter. Life for me is attractive for diversity and the opportunity to feel and create something new, which does not exist in reality. Imagination and fantasy are the treasures that nature has given to people.

What is my most marked characteristic?
     I am a perfectionist. I always wanted everything to be fine. I want to make a better painting, have a better family, and achieve my goals. My life was hard, and many of my dreams were broken. I was often full of disappointments. Still, I am a perfectionist, and, this, my most marked characteristic, makes me do my paintings, calls me, inspires me, drives me, despite the obstacles.

What is my most inspirational location, in my city?  
     I live not so long in New York and I do not yet have any favorite places that inspire me. For me, those places are pleasant where I feel good. In New York, my life was subjected to nightmarish tests. I had a lot of stress.  Many people around were so cruel that I often found myself on the brink of survival. Therefore, I really appreciate those places where I have security and peace.

What is my favorite place to eat and drink, in my city?
     When I lived in Dallas, and Norfolk, sometimes I visited with friends, or my son, at  restaurants, and tested different national food. In New York, I almost never go anywhere to eat and drink. I prefer to cook my own food at home. Of course, I would love to go with a good friend of mine to a restaurant.

What books influenced my life and how?
     Reading books plays a big role in the education of the artist. The level of intelligence and education are manifested and influence one way or another on creativity. I read books on philosophy, psychology, religion and books of famous writers. All of them influenced the formation of my worldview and my views on many aspects of life.

Who are my favorite writers?
     Umberto Eco, Jorge Luis Borges, Lev Gumilyov, Laozi, Ray Bradbury, Anton Checkov

You Only Die Once. What music would I listen on my last day?
      E lucevan le stelle - Tosca.  Cavaradossi aria is full of despair and desire to live. It is a farewell to life.

Who is my hero or heroine in fiction? 
     War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. Pierre Bezukhov. 

Who are my heroes and heroines in real life?
     My hero in real life is my father. He was a good father, and a decent man. I remember from my childhood that in Russia sometimes a snow covered the roads so much that drivers could not drive during such a blizzard. Winters in Russia are very cold. Many of them froze and died, waiting until the snow would be removed. Our house was close to the highway.  Always, my father was inviting everyone to the house during a blizzard. Thus, he saved many people whom he had never met before.  After the war with Germany, many women were lonely or lived with children without husbands. My father helped many women to keep houses and to save children.

Which movie would i recommend to see once in a lifetime? 
     The Matrix

What role plays art in my life and work?
     My life and art intersected in my childhood from the age of 12.  I cannot imagine my life without art. Art is my life. My life is an art. One proceeds into another. This year I got an injury of my right shoulder and, at present,  I cannot  paint. It cut the ground 
from under me. An important and meaningful occupation in my life is temporarily unavailable. Disgusting mood...

Who is my greatest fan, sponsor, partner in crime?  
     My eldest son did a lot for me in the past. He created a website for me, paid for the costs of exhibitions, organized exhibitions, and made a promotion. Now, he is busy with his projects, and plans, and no longer pays attention to my art. I miss this positive, relationship interaction. I do not have people around me who could be my sponsors.

Whom would I like to work with in 2017?  
     I would like to work with art dealers, art agents.

Which people in my profession would I love to meet in 2017?
     Sponsors, art collectors.

What project, in 2017, am I looking forward to work on?  
     I can only do small art works on paper because of the injured rotator cuff.  Also, I am teaching art to children and adults. Later after recovering I wil do my paintings

Where can you see me or my work in 2017?
     On the internet

What do the words "Passion Never Retires" mean to me? 
     I have not yet passed my creative path to the end. I see a star ahead, which shines for me. I will go to this star, while I can. 

Which creative heroines should Peter invite to tell their story?
     No doubt, Peter knows without my advice.


Interview conducted by Jack Savage with artist Nina Tokhtaman Valetova  –  Represented by The Influx Gallery, Notting Hill, London

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Interview conducted by Jack Savage with artist Nina Tokhtaman Valetova  –  Represented by The Influx Gallery, Notting Hill, London

1. Welcome Nina to The Influx Gallery family. Tell us a little bit about yourself and where you are from?
I am New York based artist. After studying art at  art school at the age of 12, I attended the Faculty of Art and Graphics at the university.
2. Were your family supportive of you deciding to become an artist?
My father paid for my art education and gave me the opportunity to study at  art school. Despite this, he did not want me to attend university and become an artist. His concern was that, as the  artist, I would be unable to maintain a comfortable lifestyle.
3. Was there anything specific that you can remember that made you want to become an artist?
Whenever I was a child, I dreamed of being famous as an artist when I grew up. Since my father, like many of my relatives, was gifted in art, I believe talent is genetically transmitted from parents to children.
4. Did your schooling or work affect your creative development in any way?
Definitely. I wouldn't have been able to get professional skills without art education 
5. Where do you get your inspiration and influences from?
Through my artwork, I create a different reality by wandering through the labyrinths of my imagination. Perhaps it's an escape from reality. 
  Sometimes  I aim to express my thoughts, views, and feelings in my art. A lot of my артwork deals with mythology and philosophy based on my knowledge in these fields.
  The creative work of any talented and unusual artist inspires me to create my own. 
6. Do you have a favourite painting technique? 
It is most likely that I use a traditional painting technique. 
7. We are very honoured to represent an artist displaying such creative originality? Does your creative process involve conscious or unconscious imaginings, or a mixture of both?
My creative process is the mixture conscious and unconscious imaginings. The process of creating sketches for paintings or drawings is often subconscious, but the final phase is analysis. When I am planning an art piece, I usually know in advance what color, style, and technique it will be.
8. What was your most enjoyable artwork to create/construct? 
There have been several times when the process of creating artwork was easy without doubts and any efforts.
9. You have almost single handedly established the “Synthesis” art style, a combination of Suprematism, surrealism, cubism with abstract and figurative drawing and painting styles. I love how you  intersect these artistic styles into something original and cotemporary. Have you a background or been educated in the subject of art history? 
Every time I uploaded my artwork to аny an art website, I was asked to fill out a form indicating the style. Often it was difficult for me because cubist and surrealist styles were both dominant in some  paintings and in others, the abstract style has been mixed with the figurative. In the opinion of an Italian art critic, my art work goes beyond surrealism  definition.  Since Synthesis involves combining elements to create something new, I named it Synthesis Art Style.
My studies in art history lasted ten years.
10. We love the classical yet modern dark brush strokes and intricate pencil drawing within your work. Can you elaborate upon this original style of painting?
The question wasn't quite clear to me. In addition to doing  oil painting, I also draw with Prisma colored pencils and ink on paper.
11. I relate to your work in that I too as an artist simply refuse to commit to one style. I find that it stifles my creativity being bogged down within a single genre. Do you agree, or do you have other reasons for your own particular brand of “synthesis”?
I noticed that some artists mix several styles together.  I concluded, there is a new trend in contemporary visual arts. I just thought about the style's name for a long time. 
I would appreciate  if other artists combining different styles in one work, would name their style Synthesis
12. Thanks a lot for your valuable time and interest. You can include any other details you want to talk about here?
Thank you for interest in my art

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