By Mudassir Raja
She is a trained dancer, artist, choreographer and art teacher. She has however, towered as an artist in Qatar. Her works are known in the art circles for their colour and realism.
Evgeniya Goncharova has been living in Qatar for 12 years with her Syrian husband. She has earned accolades for her works that she has displayed in different exhibitions in Qatar.
Community recently sat with the Russian artist at her house where she maintains a studio and a small gallery. She spoke at length about art, and her life and times.
Please brief us about your journey so far.
I come from a family of engineers. My father and mother are both engineers. My mother is also a very artistic person; she used to do bead work. Painting was a hobby of my father. They however, did not make art their vocation. I have a younger sister. I grew up in an extended family with my cousins.
I started taking dance and art classes since a very young age. I attended a special art school for seven years. We used to have three hours for art every day. Since then, I have been associated with academics; teaching different forms of art.
I studied choreography in college after which, I performed for a theatre company as a dancer and got a university degree in art and dance.
What is art for you? How would you define it?
For me, it is a kind of belief. You grow with it. You see art in every small object around you. It is a style of life. It is my meditation and relaxation. It gives me peace of mind. When I am very happy or excited, I put these emotions on the canvas. I also believe that the art can solve so many different problems.
When did you really make up your mind to turn a professional?
Actually, in my childhood, there was no computer and no Internet. I used to have a lot of free time and spent it drawing and reading. I used to draw different things. My mother noticed that and sent me to an art school. Since then, my life has revolved around art.
What form of art do you like and what art techniques do you follow?
I like realism in my work and the only thing that I accept in my mind. This is what I have been teaching. I think if you have a strong academic base in art, you can do whatever you want to.
I use a lot of different colours in my paintings. I never ever use black in my paintings. It is a very vibrant and strong colour. We have to make everything stronger around black. Using too many colours can be called my signature in my paintings. I try to bring happiness and make real things more colourful. I paint both nature and portraits. I use both water and oil colours.
Tell us about your achievements.
May be, I started taking my work seriously some 13 years ago. So far, my major achievement has been the success of my students. Some of them have ended up in some of the most prestigious universities of the world.
I have been in Qatar for a long time. All my exhibitions have taken place here. One of my biggest exhibitions, organised by the Russian embassy, recently took place at the Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani Museum. One of the exhibitions has been going on for three years at the International Centre for Music. I have exhibited some works in the Souq Waqif Art Centre. The recent International Arts Festival organised by MAPS International gave me major satisfaction. I have received different awards from Spain and China for my works.
How has your experience of teaching been in Qatar?
I have been teaching art and dance — both ballet and jazz — at the International Center for Music. I love teaching students coming from different countries. They are all different. It gives me a chance to be a kind of a universal teacher. I have to adjust with the diversity. I am also very proud of my students. Many of them are taking part in exhibitions in different countries and they are being praised.
What advice will you give budding artists?
The first thing is never to give up. The second is to be patient. There are ups and downs all the time. Sometimes you do not want to do art. Take a break (then), calm down, and relax. It comes to you eventually, in a new way.
For children, support must come from their parents. It is the duty of parents to encourage their children. Grown-ups need to visit different exhibitions and watch the works of established artists. They need to get inspiration from works of others. They need to follow the masters. They should copy and practise the masters.
How can an artist gain and retain his/her individuality?
With all my classic education, practice and teaching experience, I am a realist. In Qatar, however, I see many abstract and surrealistic works. There are few exhibitions showcasing realistic works.
I have started questioning myself. Am I doing the right thing? Is my work sellable? Does my work interest the people? In this situation, I am reading books by — and about — different impressionists. I am trying to believe that what I am doing is right, especially when I’m enjoying it. So far, I do not want to skip what I have been doing.
To carry some kind of individuality, the artists have to be active. You have to present yourself. Sitting in your studio and creating masterpieces will not help you at all. You need to exhibit your work. You need to use Internet as a tool to show your work to the world.
Do you have some plans for the future?
I do not look too far. But I have plans for some solo exhibitions. I want to produce quality work and for people to see it. I want to paint portraits showing different expressions.
Has living in Qatar helped you improve as an artist?
To be honest, Qatar has opened me up as an artist. I appreciate this country very much. I have shown my work here. I have been teaching here. I really admire the artistic life in Doha.
The atmosphere is very congenial and supportive for the creative minded. Qatar is definitely going to gain popularity as a country that supports art. I think they are going somewhere very far.
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