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  • Writer's pictureAva Chen

Interview with Irina Tall: Issue 2 Featured Contributor

Even from a stain or drop on the table you can create some wonderful design.”

Irina Novikova Tall, our featured artist contributor to Issue 2, is an artist and writer with degrees in art and design. Collaging surreal, dynamic works and experimenting with a wide range of mediums, her nebulous artform delves into mythical creatures, soft landscapes, and human wonder. In this interview, Tall discusses her intrinsic passion for artistic expression through vivid memories, from doodling in a friend’s notebook to drawing two doves who had fluttered into view. We hope you enjoy Tall's insightful answers!

You can find Tall's artwork here.

"I wanted to be a bird!" by Irina Tall. Paper, gel pen, cardboard, colored paper.

Why did you first start creating art?

Probably, it was some kind of craving... As a child, I saw a black cat in the golden rays of the sun, I remember how she lay and what an elegant silhouette she had. Then she seemed to me like a bird or some kind of fantastic dragon and also gold, black against a gold background. There was a famous cartoon based on Maeterlinck's play "The Blue Bird" then I watched it and then I saw this cat, and comparing it with the characters from the cartoon, I wanted to portray it, to achieve some kind of perfection.

It was some kind of vital need, and in general, I constantly feel the urge to take up a pen or pencil and draw something even in someone else’s notebook. One day at a school friend’s apartment, another girl called us and offered to meet, and while I was talking to her, I covered someone else’s notebook with some scribbles and Latin letters with curls. It was lying on a narrow shelf near the phone, I did it by accident, not even suspecting that I was drawing in someone else’s notebook. We were then very scolded and my friend had to say that we did it together, but I knew that I did it alone…

How has your artistic journey evolved over time?

This is a very complex process. My first exhibition took place when I was thirteen years old; it was called a line from the poem by the Belarusian poet Maxim Bogdanovich “My soul is like a wild hawk.” Afterwards, I had twenty personal exhibitions. And then I graduated from an institute with a degree in art history, then a second institute with a degree in design.

I wrote a lot on the table and not only this and not only drawings, but also poetry.

What mediums do you typically use, and what figures (people, landscapes, abstract patterns, etc.) do you stray towards in composition?

For some period of my life I was fascinated by abstraction, but now figurative art keeps creeping into my mind; I need some kind of living object on which I can initially rely in my work.

A couple of days ago I drew two doves. They literally showed up and although I was drawing a landscape, I took another sheet and started drawing them, the birds sat for a long time and I spent three sheets on them... I tried to draw quickly, but this was probably not necessary, as later I found out that two elderly ladies came there and fed these birds, so the birds waited until food was brought to them. Honestly, at that time I really wanted to draw some kind of animal. I used to be interested in animals; I have a series dedicated to rare and endangered species of birds and animals.

Sometimes, I write letters in the form of animals and birds, I draw with a gel pen. This is a whole series of “living letters”: letters that have claws, eyes, beaks and probably souls.

Where do you find inspiration for your artwork?

I was greatly influenced by the art of the Art Nouveau era, Alphonse Mucha and especially Vrubel, then Egon Schiele, who is still my idol.

What materials do you typically use and what shapes (people, landscapes, abstract patterns, etc.) do you lean towards in your composition?

I usually use white paper, draw with pen or gouache...

Describe what’s happening in these art pieces. What inspired you to create these artworks in particular?

I was in a collage laboratory and wanted to learn something, something a little different from what I do... So I made this collage, which depicts a girl with multi-colored eyes, like a cat. I remembered the ornament that decorates temples dedicated to Allah in the east and the fairy tale about a wonderful cave and Aladdin.

I drew another drawing of water and trees not far from my house. I usually draw these types of works quickly, five or seven minutes. I take tinted paper and outline the overall design with black wax crayons, and then add color with children's crayons, which are usually used for drawing on asphalt. I buy several packages of these crayons, achieving different tones in the selection of colors and go paint a landscape or draw a cat or dog. Two years ago I wanted to find a simple material to use, and not take with me paints that require adding water.

How would you describe your artistic process?

I have two ways of making work: first, I come up with a composition, or the second way, where I look at a piece of paper and already imagine a plot on the sheet. Even from a stain or drop on the table you can create some wonderful design.

Most often I come up with my compositions to the classical music of Bach or Beethoven, Mozart, or I like to listen to indie or rock and roll…I listen to different music and follow the rhythm of my paintings.

What emotions and/or messages do you hope audiences take away from your artwork?

I wanted people to become better people, to have some hope in life, chances for further development and strength... I would like to give anyone only positive emotions with my works.

In a sense, I understand that the world cannot be changed, but this “impossibility” is just a letdown and in many ways it destroys the creator, who locks himself in himself... Your world can and should be made better and my message to the world is “Never give up and strive for what you love.” And with my works I want to show that the world is beautiful and let other people see it.

Anything else you would like to add about your art?

I also want to give an example of my prose…

"Her inner voice was like a bird, she washed something all day today and it seems it was not water at all, but someone’s blood... in the Christian tradition, the blood of a saint was considered sacred, they drank it and became purer... This is an ancient echo. ..

‘What? What did you do?’ - a woman’s voice ventured on the street as if it were mouse-like, as if it was destined to have nothing more than this scream, the woman was a spring and here it unwinded too quickly, so something had to burst …

‘You were hurt,’ he touched her thin, almost transparent hand. He didn’t ask, but asserted to himself, as if... He didn’t sympathize with her at all and didn’t even feel sorry for her, he wanted it to look like this, to work out, to be like this.

But she did not accept this and turned to the cold glass, and there behind her was the sun, warming and tickling the people whose hurried steps were heard on the heated paving stones…

He wanted to ask her a question and asked, but she closed her ears, just for him.

A small dog with reddish golden fur walked like a soldier; she did not look at her owner, a pink doll with artificial hair and eyelashes.

‘You’re still... You work where they sell meat…’ he reached across the table to her.

The girl quietly got up and left, and only the scent of regret remained in the air, and the wooden dark starlings trembled as if from the cold on branches made of wire woven into braids.

Your heart will respond and fall silent forever, a cold, snowless and lonely winter awaits you…”

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