At the age of 24, Marianna Magurudova has already far more experience
of the world, and of painting, than most of her contemporaries in the second
year of the Fine Arts course at Brighton University. Feminine, willowy,
with a beguiling Russian accent, she has nevetheless a steely determination
to succeed. In this respect she is probably typical of modern Russia -
individualistic, self sufficient, go-getting.
Marianna was born in Kislovodsk, in Southern Russia, in 1974. Both her parents are artists; her father is a successful oil painter, her mother an interior designer, so that the artistic vocation she felt from the very beginning ran in her veins. As soon as she could hold pens and pencils she practised with them, and at the age of 11 she used to go to a specialist art school in the afternoons. "I did not even ask myself what I wanted to do," she remembers." it was obvious I would not do anything else." When I asked her if there was any political indoctrination in her earliest childhood, before the fall of communism, she says she had to read Marx and Engels at the age of ten, but then, with the advent of Gorbachev, society opened up. In any case she was only really interested in her work.
Marianna went on to take a degree at Russias leading institute, the St Petersburg Academy of Fine and Applied Art. The training here was rigorous, and students had to study eight subjects, but the principal emphasis was on drawing, which shows in the quality of her work. The Academy had its own celebrated museum, and every year an exhibition of the best twenty of 1,200 competing students would be held. In 1992 she contributed no less than three works to the show. Eventually she was named top student.
Why did she come to Brighton?
Love! He was an Englishman named Mark, travelling in Russia in the summer
of 1994- "We met in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg," she says.
"I went there with a friend to see an exhibition and while we were in the
cafe Mark came up to our table and asked if the seat was free. We ended
up talking for about two hours and exchanged addresses. After that we wrote
to each other and he started to call and came to see me again. He tried
to get a job but it was very hard so we decided to go to England."
Work in Brighton.
Marianna has been here for just over two years now and it is a measure
of her talent and determination that she has already made considerable
inroads on the local scene, in spite of the fact that she is foreign
and so young. At the very beginning she found it impossible to obtain any
but the most menial employment, and she channelled all her creative energies
into her work.
At this stage, Mariannas art is in a constant state of evolution, but
inevitably it has very different roots from her peers on the course.
...And living in Brighton?
I like Brighton very much. London is very beautiful but it does
not feel like home; Brighton does. Everyone is very friendly here and I
have never felt like a foreigner.
|Georgian women. Watercolour.The inspiration
this painting was the Georgian women Marianna
used to observe near her hometown in
southern Russia, preparing food and singing as
they worked. She was not sure how to fill in
the foreground and so she decided to
insert the lemons. She remembers that
during her earliest days in Brighton some
friends sent her some lemons from Georgia,
and when she opened the box the
perfume filled the room.
|Watercolour from Russian folk themes.
Fruit and flowers, 1996. This bright watercolour
shows her love of the subject matter that draws her to
Brighton Market. In spite of its apparent
effortlessness it also shows the underlying strength of her
draughtmanship. It was on display,
and sold, at her studio during the Brighton Festival
|Cascade. Marianna is moving increasingly towards abstraction in her art, and this work shows the influence of one of the painters she most admires, Gustav Klimt, whose painting of the Kiss finds its echoes here, where abstract pattern is broken by the depiction of the lovers at the top righthand corner.|