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Ekaterina Panikanova – Artist’s Statement

"I once found a 700-page manuscript and I was struck by the difference between its original purpose and how it had ended up. I bought it and I used it as the base for a painting. Paper, card and books have a fundamental value in my work. I see them as a body of rules, dogmas, traditions, religious beliefs and scientific discoveries which, right or wrong for their time, yet free human beings, and enclose them in a cage, simultaneously. If it were not the ability of men like Galileo Galilei to turn the pages of history, man’s blind belief in the theory that the earth was held up by a huge turtle would have eventually caused him to perish. I like working on old books: I like the way the wear and tear, underlines, notes and scribbles, enable me to perceive the personalities of people who have read them. In Russia, there is a difference between an icon which has been ‘prayed to’ and one which has not; a book which has been read has the same kind of energy as an icon which has been worshiped.

I suppose my Soviet past can be seen in the type of clothing and objects I depict and the symbols I use, and the Russian school of art is there too. However I continuously strive to widen my areas of interest. By living here in Italy, I have been able to study ‘the European’ and the ‘European way of life’. The books I use to make my paintings generally come from different countries of origin in such a way that the stories I tell of the ‘education’ of mankind are true for all of us, regardless of our culture and country of origin.

I read the texts and choose the illustrations from pages which I open both purposefully and intuitively. Then I join them together in a kind of jigsaw puzzle to express the idea I have in mind.

Play and drama are equally important components of my work, which explores both the memory and the formation of the psychology of the being.

My work is a kind of program for living, where the text is never erased but you can turn the page if you want to. I prefer not fixing my works in time and thus I always try to create works with movement. Everyday life is generally anchored in the past and thus both our present and our future are strongly bound to our experience.

I use the metaphor of the antlers to convey the idea of animal instinct, the pie as a symbol of traditions (the rules of the home, education, and any other element which compress our psychology and our instinct to the point that we are almost imprisoned by) and the metaphor of burning fire with either limpid flames symbolizing our ability to see, to warm ourselves and to invent or dense black smoke and soot as a symbol of dictatorship, censorship and obscuration."