Taiga and Babushki in Bushwick: The Work of Dasha Bazanova

Dasha Bazanova, The Group Portrait , Oil on Wood, 2015
Dasha Bazanova in front of her work
Artist Dasha Bazanova in front of her work

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.

Dasha Bazanova work
Works by Dasha Bazanova

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.

Dasha Bazanova, The Group Portrait , Oil on Wood, 2015
The Group Portrait by Dasha Bazanova (oil on wood), 2015

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.

Dasha Bazanova, Walking Behind the Grandmother, mixed media, 2014
Walking Behind the Grandmother by Dasha Bazanova (mixed media), 2014

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.”

Dasha Bazanova, People Waiting , Oil on wood, 2015
People Waiting by Dasha Bazanova (oil on wood), 2015

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.

Dasha Bazanova, Buranovskiye Babushki, Oil on Wood, 2015
Buranovskiye Babushki by Dasha Bazanova (oil on wood), 2015

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.

 Dasha Bazanova, Walking Behind the Grandmother 2 , Ceramic,  2015
Walking Behind the Grandmother 2 by Dasha Bazanova (ceramic), 2015

 

Dasha Bazanova, Breast Feeding, Ceramic, 2015
Breast Feeding by Dasha Bazanova (ceramic), 2015

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.

Dasha Bazanova, Babushki,  Ceramic,: 2015
Babushki by Dasha Bazanova (ceramic), 2015

 

 

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Author: Etty Yaniv

Etty Yaniv works on her art and art writing in Brooklyn. She holds BA in Psychology and English Literature from Tel Aviv University, BFA from Parsons School of Design, and MFA from SUNY Purchase. In her installation work She is integrating mediums such as drawing, photography and painting to form three dimensional immersive environments.