Visualising the invisible, untouchable and intangible – Alexandra Gromova

Alexandra Gromova is a figurative painter of unseen human experiences. Her paintings are based on human emotions, memories and dreams. “I am attempting to create a story, which has no words but is represented by an image,” she says.

Born in the Soviet Union, Alexandra says she is nostalgic about her childhood. “It was about happiness and innocence”- emotions that she can only remember about a country that one day suddenly disappeared.

Alexandra is indeed a dreamer and says she is constantly between reality and dreams, which is perhaps why she can capture the invisible, untouchable and intangible in her work so well.

She studied economics instead of art so that she could earn money. “When I was a child I used to take painting classes. Unfortunately, after school I had no chance to study art,” she says. “Then later I took some classes with a quite famous Russian contemporary painter, Stanislav Svetochenkov, and studied academic drawing in the Russian Academy of Arts.”

It was only five years ago when Alexandra decided to make her “journey into the absolute unknown” and move to London where she knew no one. “I was afraid but I encouraged myself by saying that I could always go back home, but I didn’t and my permanent home is now London,” she says. It was in London that she studied Fine Art at Chelsea College of Arts.

Her artistic style

Alexandra describes her work as “honest, deep and philosophical.” She was inspired by people when she started figurative painting. “We [people] are all so different but at the same time we are alike. We all breathe, feel, love, hate, suffer etc,” she says.

As a painter, she is inspired by both silence and solitude. “They are so deep and magnetic and I just can’t overlook them,” she says. But the person who inspired her the most was her mother. “She taught me not to be afraid of anything and just go ahead. She was a very kind, goal-oriented and talented person,” she says.

Alexandra is also fascinated by orthodox icons. “I like to visit cathedrals, not only orthodox ones, as they all incorporate spiritual aura,” she says. “I can observe Orthodox icons for hours, as they radiate mystery and create enigma. I like Frida Kahlo and Edward Munch, as their paintings are reflections of their lives – sadness, sorrow, and pain.”

Alexandra also occasionally writes poetry or short prose, which she describes as “pretty much as philosophical as my paintings.” During her studies in London she also experimented with ceramics and other media, yet painting was her “uncontrollable desire.” In fact, she says “I would not be able to survive without it.”

How she paints

Alexandra says she needs a special atmosphere to paint. “Being hidden from everyone, being in absolute solitude in order to communicate purely with my paintings, being alone and being in silence helps me to draw moments from my memory and make them present.

“Ideas come unexpectedly, that’s why I sometimes think that they come from somewhere above, maybe from the Cosmos. Or maybe because I do a lot of research, it is all in my memory and then it is processed and I get feedback,” she says.

“The next step after getting an idea is selecting and making sketches. Quite often after editing the initial idea the drawing stops working at all. If it works I start to work on the final image. However, occasionally I complete a piece of work, I look at it and understand that I do not feel anything from it and so I put it straight in the rubbish bin.”

Through her paintings, Alexandra says her main message is about the “value and influence of our intangible lives – feelings and emotions. The invisible experience, which lasts in our unconscious: memory or dreams,” she says. “My way of thinking is influenced a lot by my country, my background: Russian culture, history, and mentality.”

What she paints

Alexandra enjoys painting Russian orphans. “When I look through photographs of orphans some of them immediately catch my attention and I just want to paint those children. They magnetise me,” she says.

“It’s what I meant earlier about silence and solitude. One of my works, which is called “A girl” (2012) and another “Frozen Flowers_1” (2014) are some of my favourites. Sometimes I am even afraid to look at them as they talk to me. I find them incredibly powerful.”

Alexandra says her art is all about honesty. “I am not trying to please someone with my paintings. It is more to do with creating a sensitive experience for the viewer. I am satisfied when my paintings evoke an emotional resonance. They are more about a silent shock without the representation of visual horror.

“There is too much artificiality in our lives. Lies, fake emotions, created feelings, artificial words,” she says. “Honesty touches deeply. In my opinion, only capturing sincere emotions or experience in my paintings creates uniqueness. It is also important for me to be honest with myself,” she says.

Alexandra is currently working on a series of paintings for her next exhibitions.


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