Nika Rubinshtein explores the hidden aspects of human existence, such as the mysteries of the soul and the afterlife, influenced by her family’s maritime and mystical history near the Black Sea. Her work, often featuring feminine energy, is created through experimental techniques like blending water and inks, allowing for spontaneous evolution.
Kelly Foster – Your artwork is a compelling journey into the human soul, blending the mystical with the tangible. How do you approach these ethereal themes?
Nika Rubinshtein – My art seeks to uncover the hidden dimensions of human existence—those elements that are felt but not seen, like the mysteries of the soul and the afterlife. My inquiries aren’t rooted in religious dogma; they’re born from a sense of wonder and a desire to understand the invisible threads that connect us.
KF – What was the genesis of your fascination with the ethereal and introspective?
NR – I grew up in a small town near the Black Sea, where maritime life and mysticism were integral parts of my family’s history. My great-grandmother was a fortune-teller and tarot reader. My curiosity was piqued at an early age, largely because such mystical matters were considered off-limits for me.
KF – Given your ancestral ties to spiritual practices, do you feel this is an intuitive gift you’ve inherited?
NR – Since my great-grandmother’s passing, I’ve been drawn more profoundly into questions about the nature and journey of the soul. Her life and my ensuing reflections act as inspiration and catalysts for my work.
KF – The figures in your paintings often represent feminine energy. Is there an autobiographical element to this?
NR – Absolutely. The women in my lineage have been strong and captivating individuals. I believe women have a unique relationship with the natural world and their own bodies, a connection I try to capture through my art.
KF – You employ a unique technique of blending water and inks to create your works. Can you elaborate on the discovery process?
NR – My style emerged from a year of pure experimentation with different mediums. I found that using water allows the painting to take on a life of its own, to evolve spontaneously, which resonates with me deeply.
KF – Is there a specific order to how you incorporate figurative and abstract elements in your work?
NR – My approach is fluid. Sometimes I begin with a figure, around which abstract elements materialise. Other times, the abstraction comes first, shaping the figures that emerge. Regardless, I always visualise the entire composition in my mind before putting brush to canvas.
KF – Your art seems to live and breathe, evolving in alignment with your emotional state.
NR – Indeed, my paintings often transcend their initial inspirations and become vehicles for deeper self-exploration.
KF – You frequently incorporate universal symbols like owls and stars. Is there a framework guiding your choice of these icons?
NR – Some symbols are deliberate references, like the tarot-based “The Hermit,” while others manifest intuitively. I aim to deepen my understanding of these symbols, perhaps through scholarly research, to imbue my work with added layers of meaning.
KF – Will your future projects weave together these symbols and themes to create a cohesive narrative?
NR – While each piece stands alone, a unifying thematic thread does tie them together. I intend to explore the psychology and symbolism underlying these themes further, adding depth to my portfolio.
KF – Your family history seems to have shaped your artistic journey, enabling you to delve into universal human archetypes.
NR – Yes, I find that my familial past and my broader quest for understanding coalesce in intriguing ways, despite the loss of many family records over time.
KF – How do you reconcile the complexities of your personal and philosophical queries within your art?
NR – My art is a melting pot of my emotional and intellectual struggles. I jot down ideas, narratives, and philosophical musings, assembling them into a coherent vision that eventually finds its way onto the canvas.
KF – Do external circumstances influence your work, or is it primarily driven by abstract themes?
NR – My life experiences and abstract themes are inextricably linked, each informing and shaping the other. It’s a holistic integration that manifests in my art.
KF – You left Russia for Israel with just a suitcase. How did that experience influence you?
NR – It was both a challenge and an awakening. It taught me resilience and affirmed my belief that I can rebuild my life from scratch if needed.
KF – What fuels your resilience, especially when confronting life’s tougher phases?
NR – A period of illness made me confront my mortality, which now serves as a powerful motivator. The fear of leaving behind a life of unrealized potential drives me to venture into unknown territories, both in life and in art.
KF – Your colour palette has shifted recently. Is this an intentional transition?
NR – Absolutely. I’m increasingly drawn to earthy tones that, for me, bridge the ethereal with the corporeal, reflecting my evolving perspective on the soul’s connection to the body and nature.
KF – Does the act of creating art serve as a form of emotional release for you?
NR – It’s a double-edged sword. While successful execution brings relief, a piece that falls short can stir frustration, offering an opportunity for introspection and growth.
KF – In closing, what would you say encapsulates the essence of your art and your journey as an artist?
NR – Being an artist isn’t about crafting consistent masterpieces; it’s about remaining deeply committed to the creative process. Art is a living entity that might resonate differently with each individual, and that’s the beauty of it.