Indira Mersiyanova is a young painter from Moscow. With a professional education in art and design, Indira’s work straddles the boundary between classical and contemporary, often leaning one way or the other based on her mood and personal circumstances. In fact, Indira’s paintings are abstract snapshots of her emotions, her victories, and her struggles captured on canvas. A central theme in her art is the nude female body, representing purity, beauty, and fragility – the perfect medium on which to transpose one’s own sensibility. Currently Indira lives with her husband and daughter in Monaco, where she displays her work at galleries and art shows. More information about Indira, as well as her catalog of paintings and illustrations can be found on her website – www.indira-monaco-art.com.
You have an education in fashion and textile design and now you paint professionally. Did you always know that you wanted to pursue art or did this interest develop over time?
I have always had an appreciation for beauty in any of its forms. Back in school I always placed great importance on how I presented myself. Sometimes I would take my mother’s clothing and jewelry, which I always got into big trouble for. I also liked to sew imaginative and unconventional dresses. After I finished school, I confidently chose to study Applied Arts at the A. N. Kosygin Moscow State Textile University and graduated with the specialty of Artist-Designer. At university, the most important courses were Illustration, Painting, and Composition and the main goal was not just to teach people to be designers and stylists but also to develop in them a love for and knowledge of art. Thus, my interest in painting grew further and further, particularly, in painting the female anatomy and form. This was when, somewhere in my subconscious, I chose my path.
How would you describe your style/direction? What inspires your work?
My style is most likely part of Romanticism/Expressionism. In general, I would describe my work as an emotional outburst expressed as modern art. The technique I use is always different and there is no repetition in my works. As I’m painting, I cannot predict how the finished piece will look either in form or in color, as this is very dependent on my emotional state and source of inspiration at the moment.
Indira is pictured wearing her R. Culturi scarves.
What other artists, current or past, have been your biggest influences?
I’m particularly influenced by late-19th century art but, in general, any manifestation of art and beauty from the past or present provides inspiration for me. If talking about specific artists, then the works most memorable and extraordinary to me are the paintings of the great Amedeo Modigliani. His paintings are subdue and somber yet scream with emotion. His fate was very unfortunate but, despite this, his work has become part of history. Another one of my favorites artists is the legendary Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. Her profound works hint at her difficult life and personal struggles.
Can you describe the creative process behind a painting?
The process always varies and I don’t have a specific algorithm for creating my paintings. I never know when I’ll complete a specific work. I approach the canvas only when I have the desire to. When I don’t like something, I don’t fool myself, and I start again. I usually paint at night or when I am home alone.
Russia has a rich history of talented painters, poets, composers, philosophers, and writers. What is your opinion of the current state of art and creative thought in Russia?
This is a very touchy subject. It seems to me that in today’s world anything having to do with art has been relegated to the second-tier of importance. Our society is more concerned with politics, economics, terrorism, and war. As a result, people don’t find time to focus on and enjoy art and, therefore, in my opinion, art is less valued now than in the past. In Russia, there are many talented painters, poets, composers, and scientists – this is our pride. Even today, in modern Russia, there are many new names.
Monaco, on the other hand, is not generally well known for culture and arts. Do you feel that this is changing?
On the contrary, if Monaco isn’t the cultural capital of Europe then it is certainly one of its largest cultural centers. People here associate with art very closely, although maybe this isn’t always immediately evident. There are many connoisseurs, galleries, clubs, and groups of people that organize different events based around art. I very much like the local social scene and the ability to meet new and interesting artists. This year, I joined the Monaco Project for the Arts and want to mention that the atmosphere here is very friendly and pleasant. Everyone is very kind and always ready to impart help and advice.
Your daughter is five years old. Is she starting to show a curiosity about your work or an appreciation for art in general? Is this something you would like to cultivate in her?
An appreciation for and understanding of art needs to be cultivated in any child. This is very important for their personal development. Our daughter loves to draw daily and not only does she show interest in my work but has also started to offer criticism. She says why she likes or doesn’t like something, what else needs to be added, and always justifies her opinions. Sometimes, I get goose bumps from how insightful she is. She really has a genuine interest in art.
You are originally from Moscow but now live in Western Europe. Where would you say people are more conscious of how they dress and present themselves?
Yes, I was born in Moscow and began to travel when I was 13 years old. Western Europe and Russia are incomparable – different history, different culture, different mentality. Unfortunately, the remnants of Soviet times are still apparent today. Our people did not have a chance to develop and realize their sense of taste. If you look at elderly women in Europe versus even Moscow, you will see a very sad picture. Young people in Russia, though, try hard to present themselves well and dress more European. In particular, young women in large cities look a lot more neat, elegant, and interesting than their peers even in France, for example. This generation formed during the Perestroika times and they have different opportunities and, most importantly, desires. Because of this dichotomy it’s difficult to understand where people are more conscious of their style, in Russia or in Western Europe.
Russia is huge but has only two main cities – Moscow and St. Petersburg. There everyone is very conscious of how they dress, what they eat, and of their lifestyle. But there is also a huge territory where very little has changed. For the people living there, the main goal is survival rather than worrying about how they look. The fact that there is still so much poverty and inequality is very disappointing. This is the main difference with Western Europe. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a capital city or a small country town, houses and gardens are neat and well kept, people are happy, and everything looks and feels very quaint. Even if someone is wearing an old jacket or dress, they wear it tastefully and confidently. I do see, though, that the situation in Russia is changing for the better and this makes me happy and optimistic for the future.
How would you describe your personal style? How has it evolved over time?
I’ve always preferred classic womenswear but with time I’ve also started to experiment and try other things. Your personality and mood during a given period of time determines your style. Lately, I prefer a more youthful and comfortable style. I like distressed jeans and roomy shirts. I’ve started to wear men’s hats. But I still always wear heels, especially if I’m going out. If I expect a late evening then I’ll bring comfortable shoes to change into.
For official events or galas, I always stick with an elegant, classic style. It’s important to remember that a woman, no matter what image she chooses, must always be feminine and sexy.
What items will you never leave home without?
I would never leave home without my phone. Like for most people, it’s an integral part of my life.
Why is it important to present yourself well?
If you look good then you feel good. You feel confident in yourself and people pay you compliments. You are in a great mood and the whole day goes well, just as you wish it to.
Are there any rules or principles that you live by? What keeps you grounded?
The most important rule is to have the desire to live rather than to sit around in one spot. As we often say – “Water doesn’t flow under a grounded stone.”
What’s one piece of advice you would give to aspiring artists?
Don’t ever stop creating, experimenting, and discovering yourself. There are no limits to perfection.