Svetlana Mitrofanova

June 2022

Almost the whole month I worked on portraits of the KUBA’s participants, refugees from Ukraine, who lived next door, neighbors in the village. I wanted to improve my technical skills, find my own way of painting portraits, a palette and shaping faces, to gain working speed. For me, it was fundamental not to work from a photo, not to redraw what was captured by the smartphone lens, but to paint a model in conditions of natural changing light, physical tiredness of a person from the same pose. I tried to develop my own ability to keep the focus of attention and train memory. Working with people has given me such topics for reflection as visual memory and its distortion or the ethics of the model’s objectification, the poetics of the portrait genre or time perception during work. I think I was very lucky,
because the people who agreed to pose were very open with me and shared their life stories. I was thinking about how intimate the relationship between the artist and his model becomes in the process of work, what subtlety can be achieved with an attentive and sensitive attitude to the model, how little neurophysiology and psychologists still know about the nature of human relationship, how the artist’s gaze exposes and makes a person vulnerable, and, of course, about the artist’s responsibility to his/her
model. Verbal communication was not always necessary. With some people, it seems to me, I could reach the same state of intimacy without much conversation. A summer day, time spent together and pushing its continuum boundaries, a breath of wind, sensed at the same time by me and the model, his/her embarrassment and curiosity… I discovered for myself a relationship comparable to love in terms of the degree of trust and frankness.