Alexandra Suvorova

Art is my refuge from external conditions and the medium through which I explore my
emotions. I have a personal score to settle with Death, which has taken some of my loved ones, including my unborn child. I see art as a weapon to fight mortality, just like science, and I use art to explore vulnerable life, the body, and scientific efforts to achieve immortality.

Years of formal training in fine art, contemporary art and theatre design in Moscow gave me a love of the Baroque. Like now, the Baroque epoch was a period of scientific discovery, opulence and excess. Revolutionary research of that time laid foundations for the modern disciplines of anatomy, biology, astrophysics, and information technology. My practice considers current projects to overcome mortality, like organ cloning and space exploration, whilst looking back to see how Baroque artists engaged with the innovations of their day.

In this time of social, political and ecological upheaval, I find comfort in the Baroque masters’ materials and layered technique of painting, which has endured the test of time. Following their strict method for each work, I make a compositional sketch, followed by a drawing, and then I make a grisaille in a brown-white tone. Only then do I apply a layer of colour, if necessary. It is a slow, labour-intensive method, but it achieves that fleshy materiality of Baroque painting, and it allows me to enlarge biological fragments to make large paintings. This method has also given me an appreciation for the way paint can be layered to mask and expose different elements. Before I start I sometimes write words and feelings on a blank canvas, and then after I have carefully executed all the layers of paint, I might incorporate other media or destroy the perfection of detail with graffiti.

For over a decade, I made costumes and sets at a theatre. I bring that theatrical element of immersive, world-making and
enchantment to my painting by integrating objects and costume, and conducting
experiments with space, light and performance. Theatrical themes drive my work too and I find that ancient and Biblical mythology resonates strongly with contemporary stories of progress and decay, mortality and renewal. Romeo Castellucci’s theatrical avant-garde has deeply inspired my process, as well as vivid installation art by Katja Novitskova, organic installations by Anya Gallaccio, and the earth-body performances by Ana Mendieta.

We are now learning about the extensive assistance that some of the old masters received
from talented and innovative women, like Artemisia Gentileschi. This discovery challenges
the myth of individual genius and invites us to appreciate the power of collaboration –
something we need now more than ever. Having worked in theatre design for over ten years,