Imurj Look: "Panda in the Rain" * Imurj
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Imurj Look: “Panda in the Rain”

Lidia Churakova is a Russian artist in residence at the Carter building where she is working on a series of portraiture paintings. Churakova’s work of art, “Panda in the Rain”, is on exhibit in the Imurj Main Gallery exhibit, MONO a MONO. Gentile discusses her inspirations, being an artist in the triangle area, and her creative process.

Q: How would you describe yourself & your artistic style?

A: I am a first generation Russian immigrant, a nature lover, and a tea addict. I lost a dear friend 3 years ago, and since then I’ve been creating paintings that help people overcome a painful loss and inspire them to love again. My work is rooted in understanding color and the energy it brings into our lives. I use a lot of texture to express the complexity and subtlety of an emotional landscape. My work sways from representational to abstract, depending on the emotion I am working with.

Q: How would you describe your art/piece that is on exhibit at Imurj?

A: “Panda in the Rain” is a monochrome composition, done in a very simple graphic style. The visual richness of the work comes from the thick impasto texture and subtle variations of color. The contrast of simplicity and richness is key to the message – sometimes the simplest experiences in our lives can be the ones that enrich us the most.

Q: What inspired you to create this piece of art?

A: The inspiration came from my way of dealing with the separation from the person I love. No matter where we are in this world, we stand under the same sky – while we are being present in the moment the distance disappears. Why rain? Because water is a powerful symbol for connection.

Q: What’s the process of making your work?

A: The purpose of my work is to transform emotion, so I start by focusing on my feelings. I sit down and meditate, then talk to friends and strangers, then meditate again. I am looking for a strong raw emotion that I can use to empower myself and others. When I get hold of that feeling, I start sketching. Once I see a design that “flips the switch,” I get to the business of painting. I keep it fast and loose, the challenge is not to think while I paint, just feel. I come back the next day and look at the work for a long time, really taking it in, making sure everything is in balance. Some paintings are finished within a week, others take months or years to get to a point where they communicate clearly. It all depends on whether I have had enough life experience to understand and transform that particular feeling.

Q: Does local Raleigh/NC culture inspire or influence your art?

A: I’ve lived in Raleigh for 10 years and I love how active and friendly the art community is right now. Some very exciting changes are happening, and I am looking forward to meeting more local artists and helping grow the Arts in the Triangle. My new interest is plain air painting; it’s a great exercise for any artist working with color. So I am thinking of starting a Plain Air Meet Up group. Scott Renk hosts the Urban Sketching events, and I think his work is really important. We need a strong collaborative community of artists in the Triangle and Meet Ups are a great way to create a supportive environment.

Q: Why do you love what you do?

A: Because this is who I am. My purpose is to create art that transforms painful emotions and inspires people to live and love again. It’s an honor and a joy to be able to serve in that way.