PAINTER. BERLIN. GERMANY.
My name is Mariia Bokovnia. I’m 29 and I was born in St Petersburg. I grew up in the Far East of Russia, in a small town on the border with China. I’ve been living in Germany for five years, and recently moved to Berlin where I have my new studio. My aim as an artist is to create a conflict within the viewer, to ask questions about what is real, what is constructed, what is idealised.
I’ve been painting since my childhood. I was a calm and shy child, I guess through art I found a way of self expression. Even though both of my parents are engineers, my family have always believed in me as an artist. After school I moved back to St Petersburg where my studies focused on realistic painting and drawing. This was important for my development, but at some point I needed to move further. That’s how I came to the decision to build my career in Germany, which has a more liberal art scene than in Russia.
I don’t think that I could do anything else except art. Making art is more than a job. I don’t switch off when I leave the studio. It is not necessarily healthy to be like this, but that’s the kind of life I chose many years ago. I think being a creative person can be overly romanticised, when in reality it is of course often very tough. Visual art is a language through which I communicate with my viewers, and it’s a way to get closer to people – it can be very direct.
I have a wonderful studio in an industrial area in the east of Berlin. One whole floor of the building was renovated for artists and dance studios, so I’m glad to have other creatives as my neighbours. I think this space has a big potential. I have a lot of light and five-metre high ceilings, which is amazing because I often work at a large scale. My studio has become a place where I feel at home, feel open for experiments and surrounded by inspiring things.
I use the motifs of the curtain, the window and the still-life, whether as a physical detail or a psychological metaphor to address the boundaries (both real and imaginary) between public and private life. These views denote the impossibility that one can really get to know another’s life. The most important aspect of my work deals with creating art spaces within a physical room, exploring the threshold between outside and inside, real life and a stage. My goal is to discover the level of intimacy we can reach through art.