Dasha Bazanova spent her childhood in Kulikovо, a little countryside village in northern Russia, where local farmers often use Samogon, a homemade vodka, as currency. Bazanova is a multimedia artist whose ceramics, paintings, drawings, and installations draw upon her Russian heritage, memories, and aspects of Eastern European mythology. Her artwork often refers to huge Taiga forests, Russian people, and colorful folktales. In Bushwick, where she moved right after graduating with her MFA from LIU Post (Long Island) about a year ago, Bazanova has found a supportive art community as well as opportunities to show her work and meet artists of different nationalities who work in similar media.
In her new project that includes both paintings and ceramics, Bazanova is referring to her experiences in the Russian countryside at the time of the Soviet Union. For instance, The Group Portrait depicts a group portrait from a typical kindergarten around Arkhangelsk, a little town in northern Russia, where the artist grew up. She identifies the little girl with a yellow bow-knot as herself, which makes this image particularly endearing.
Similarly, Walking Behind the Grandmother portrays Bazanova’s grandmother, and Walking Behind Grandmother 2 portrays a typical moment from Russian village life. “Once every two weeks, there was a truck in our village which brought watermelons from the closest little town. This continues today,” Bazanova explains.
Bazanova also touches upon typical historical moments from the former USSR. In People Waiting, for example, she depicts the long queues created by the coupon-based distribution system, which were a typical device in motivational campaigns. She recalls a joke at that time in the Soviet Union in which a boy asks his mother, “Mama, where is papa?” and the mother responds, “He is standing in the line to get coupons for the coupons.”
With more contemporary references, Buranovskiye Babushki portrays an Udmurtian ethno-pop band consisting of eight elderly women who represented the Russian Federation in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2012. They finished second. “Since they make me proud, I dedicate to them this painting,” Bazanova adds with a smile.
In her ceramic sculptures, Bazanova also refers to babushki and mythologies. The Russian version of the Romulus and Remus story provides inspiration for the grotesque Breast Feeding. “Making ceramics is a totally opposite process from painting,” says Bazanova. She loves the unpredictability in the glazing process: “There is that feeling you get when you don’t know how the color (glaze) comes out while the sculpture is still firing inside the kiln. Every time, it is a surprise,” she adds.
Overall, both her paintings and ceramic works mine Bazanova’s rich Russian heritage. Now in Bushwick, she sees this community as a haven for forming her identity as an artist. With interest, we look forward to seeing how her experience in Bushwick will affect her artwork.