Sketches: Valentina Kisseleva
Valentina Kisseleva: "Midsummer Dream"
Thru March 7
Russian Cultural Center
2337 Bissonnet St
On a recent Friday night I met up with Valentina Kisseleva at the Russian Cultural Center, where she was debuting her latest exhibition, "Midsummer Dream." The gallery is small and quaint, but Kisseleva's work is imposing and dramatic. As she led me from one painting to another, I had the feeling that I was peering into her private life and sifting through old memories. There was something beautiful, yet invasive about the experience, like watching someone else's dreams. When I mentioned this feeling to Kisseleva, she explained that my reaction was typical.
"This came from when I was a teenager and I fell in love with my painting teacher and we danced together," she said, pointing to one of her favorite works and imparting a wistful smile. "We danced under the moon and it was a very beautiful time."
Born in Moscow, Kisseleva says her style comes from her time at the Belarus Art Academy in the mid-1970s. Her work is experimental, playing with lines, color, and a variety of impressionistic styles. Her work has appeared in exhibitions across the globe, including Kuwait, Russia, and Venezuela, and many of her paintings are in private collections in Russia. An artist, she believes, lives partially in a dream, something she hopes to impart to her audience as they absorb her inner world. As we took in another painting—this one about music—she said that her paintings are meditations on the mundane, a way of picking out philosophical questions from everyday events.
"My paintings include a lot of emotion and movement and sensations from my inner spaces," she said. "You are viewing my own fairy tale."
It's a fairy tale that can sometimes take years to construct. Some paintings take five years to finish, while others are completed in a matter of weeks. What dictates her timeline, she said, is as mysterious as what inspires her work.
"My work starts with a mood, or a song, a person or an interesting book," she says. "I never really know. Sometimes I lose my inspiration and I wait and put my painting on the back wall and start something else. Then, a year later I'll start over."
"Midsummer Dream," which includes 19 paintings, is on display until March 7, 2014.