Irina Kotova navigates colours and emotions in her paintings

Irina Kotova is a graduate of the State University of Architecture & Civil Engineering of Saint -Petersburg, Russia and moved to Bahrain more than 25 years ago.
She explores different aspects of art, like painting, graphics, sculpture and conceptual art and manages to make each of her works both emotional and unique.
Irina’s works have been displayed in local exhibitions and galleries, including Al-Riwaq Gallery, Akkas Gallery, Hend Gallery and had her solo exhibition at Bahrain Financial Harbour. She has been a Member of Bahrain Art Society since 2017.

How did you develop your skills in art?
Even though I had a natural ability for drawing and an instinctual sense of color since childhood, it wasn’t until I started university in architecture and engineering that I had the opportunity to hone in on my talents and be formally trained. This training followed me further into my career when I joined one of the leading architectural practices in Bahrain and began further improving my art skills by working with new modeling software as well as physical models and drawings.
But throughout this time, I never used this knowledge and skill to express my inner self, emotions and views of the world. When I finally dedicated time towards pursuing art, around 12 years ago, I started discovering and mastering mediums from acrylic to oil paints and others to visualize and explore various themes. Being accustomed to a technical and mathematical outlook on the world due to my formal training, it took me a while to overcome this rigidity and find my unique interpretation of the world again. Despite having all the tools I needed to create, I needed time to slow transition out of the engineers outlook so naturally, I started by painting buildings, then landscapes, seascapes, etc. Painting water was essentially the start of my turning point towards the more abstract and free aspects of art. Painting emotions through abstract shapes and colours allowed me to reach another level of freedom in self-expression.
Part of my current development is sharing the skills I’ve learned with like-minded artists and so far; it has been the most satisfying method of improving my own art as I get to not only socialise but also see artists develop, grow and thrive with me.

When is your best time to produce an art work?
The best time to paint is either during times of consistent solitude in a peaceful or comfortable space with friends. I particularly enjoy creating art in the morning in my garden, where I get to interact with nature or when my artist friends and I gather with tea brewing and music playing.

Tell us about your participation in exhibitions.
Although I paint for myself, participating in exhibitions allows for people to interact with my art and give it a second life through their unique lenses. Exchanging views and opinions on the exhibited pieces and answering questions about my own is probably the best part of every exhibition. And ever so often when someone decides they want to own one of my paintings, I’m encouraged to paint more. Since I put a piece of myself in my paintings, when someone wants one, it means a part of me resonates with them and it’s as if a small unspoken friendship forms between two strangers.
It has been around 8 years since my first solo exhibition. Now I don’t only participate in exhibitions but also curate them, since I understand that this process is necessary to increase the exposure of local based artists to the public and socialise with other art enthusiasts in the community, which is also why I joined the Bahrain Art Society.
One of the more unique events I had recently been a part of was an exhibition held in the USA by Margin Alexander; a pianist. This concert exhibited various art works while the talented pianist played musical pieces inspired by the art.

What is your favorite style?
My current favorite style is a La Prima, using a palette knife and thick layers of oil paint to almost sculpt the piece on canvas. I enjoy experimenting with contemporary painting using acrylic paints, silk screen or Lino prints, and sometimes a combination of all to portrait my favorite artistic subjects; landscapes and flowers.

Do you have other hobbies?
I walked through life with my nose in books and still enjoy reading. I have also been a yogi for the past 15 years; making sure to keep Yoga a part of my daily routine as it gives me the boost of energy I need. More recently I’ve been learning more about art history through online courses. But my biggest hobby is spending time with my family.
What are your dreams and goals in art?
I paint because I can’t not paint. My only goal is to have the opportunity to always have an empty canvas and tools and materials in front of me when I want to paint.
Edited by: @feryalisshaq