INESSA KALABEKOVA

Author name: inessa kalabekova

Research paper, Matisse Dance

“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” — Nietzsche “…But what I dream about most of all is achieving balance, purity, and tranquility in art, free from intricate and tumultuous plots. Such art would benefit both a diligent worker and a creative mind, offering a soothing respite akin to a comfortable chair that relieves physical fatigue.” — Henri Matisse The Dance of Inspiration: Matisse and Movement: Henri Matisse’s renowned dance paintings, such as “Joy of Life,” “Dance (I),” and “Dance (II),” have always fascinated me. While they are frequently mentioned in art books, their true significance often seems overlooked. To grasp the essence of these masterpieces, one must delve into their broader context, particularly crucial for students of dance and art. As I explored Matisse’s oeuvre further, I uncovered how deeply he was influenced by prominent dancers and their performances. Legends like Isadora Duncan, Loïe Fuller, and the Ballets Russes profoundly inspired him. Yet, Matisse did not merely replicate what he saw; he transformed these experiences into his own distinctive style. One pivotal moment in Matisse’s artistic journey stood out to me: Paris, 1893. There, he witnessed Loïe Fuller, an extraordinary American dancer, mesmerizingly spinning and twisting under the glow of a backlit stage. Her large silk wings created breathtaking displays of color and light, leaving an indelible mark on Matisse and fueling his creative vision. In early 1909, Shchukin commissioned Matisse to create a panel for the staircase of his mansion. By April, Matisse discussed with Charles Etienne his concept for a three-part ensemble designed to evoke and regulate the emotions of someone ascending a staircase. In the end, Matisse abandoned the idea of a three-part ensemble, opting instead for two panels that were starkly contrasting. “Dance” depicted an uncontrollable whirlwind of women in a round dance, seemingly bursting beyond the confines of the vast space with vivid blues, greens, and bodily forms. Here, the contour played a crucial role, resembling the bold stroke of a primitive artist’s chisel. In stark contrast, the second panel titled “Music” replaced the female figures with a stable male presence, arranged akin to notes on a musical staff. This composition starkly contrasted dynamics with statics, portraying dance as a release of elemental energy. Some argue that the large-scale work was painted in the style reminiscent of William Blake’s painting “Oberon, Titania and Puck with Fairies Dancing.” In autumn of 1930, after a cross-country train tour across the United States, Henri Matisse traveled to Philadelphia to meet with collector Albert Barnes at his educational foundation located in the city’s outskirts. During their meeting, Barnes gently critiqued the aging artist, noting that his recent paintings from Nice were charming yet somewhat lightweight compared to his earlier works, according to Cynthia Carolan, a Barnes Foundation docent now based in central Philadelphia. Barnes proposed a commission: to create a painting to fit above the grand arches over the windows in his new gallery. Matisse accepted the challenge, which posed two significant hurdles. Firstly, he had never tackled such a large-scale project before; Carolan pointed out that the area above the museum’s windows spanned about 45 feet (13.7 meters), requiring three separate canvases. Secondly, Matisse had little experience in painting to architectural specifications, a far more intricate task than painting on portable canvases. To begin the ambitious project, Matisse revisited an earlier work from 1910 titled “The Dance II,” a companion piece to “The Dance I” created in 1909. The first dance painting marked Matisse’s early move toward a simpler painting style, emphasizing basic elements of line, color, and form. In response to the rise of photography, which could realistically capture details beyond a painter’s reach, “The Dance I” aimed to push painting to convey emotions through fundamental visual elements rather than compete with photography’s precise realism.

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Interim show: MA Fine Art Digital 2024

Interim show: MA Fine Art Digital, London 2024 “See it. Say it. Unsorted.” presented work from across MA Art and Science, MA Contemporary Photography; Practices and Philosophies, MA Fine Art, and MA Fine Art Digital. It showcased the diverse range of practices and perspectives of over 100 Year 1 students, midway through their MA programs. The title was a reference to the London transport poster campaign (“See it. Say it. Sorted.”) that encouraged vigilance and reporting for safety. However, for this exhibition, the paternalistic address of the original campaign was challenged and inverted. It invited viewers to come and see what the students had created, tell them what they thought, but without expecting a series of neat conclusions. The exhibition was not a full stop; it did not try to resolve things or impose a unified perspective. Instead, it proposed a process of disorder, a cacophony of voices where difference was valued, and intellectual risk was encouraged. The curators resisted the impulse to tidy up what was shown, offering an exhibition as complex and messy as the world we live in.

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Descendants of the Dragon, a story from the Music Box Museum 2024

Descendants of the Dragon, a story from the Music Box Museum. Dec 2023 – Jan 2024 Inessa Kalabekova’s captivating series of collages and drawings draw inspiration from the ancient Chinese text “Classic of Mountains and Seas,” particularly the enchanting tale of “The Four Dragons.” This body of work, a fusion of drawing, collage, and painting, reflects Kalabekova’s enduring fascination with mythical narratives, especially those featuring magical creatures. Part of her MFA project at Central Saint Martins, this exhibition serves as a prelude to her final student showcase in London, following a successful exhibition in Singapore titled “The Nature of Art.” Kalabekova’s distinctive style weaves a harmonious interplay of vibrant colors and diverse materials, such as museum brochures, postcards, maps, and musical scores. Each canvas collage gradually reveals a melodic dance of trees, branches, animals, people, and fantastical beings. Her research for this show blossomed during the “15 Dragon Spirits” residency in Taipei, where Kalabekova immersed herself in the rich iconography of dragons found in local temples and museums. The culmination of her exploration was a self-made scroll depicting blue dragons in watercolor and pencils, a collaborative effort with her two young daughters. Returning to Singapore, Kalabekova continued her artistic journey by sketching statues and dragons in the historic Thian Hock Keng Temple. Inspired by the adjacent Musical Box Museum, her daughter Alice spun a tale that sparked the creation of dragon-infused portraits and collages. In these pieces, a parallel world unfolds, revealing a magical bond between a newborn and a dragon. In “Descendants of the Dragon,” Kalabekova’s art transcends reality, inviting viewers into infinite universes. The portraits emanate empathy and personality, yet the sinuous dragons hovering above suggest a deeper, unseen dimension. The four dragon collages showcased at the Museum serve as a poignant reminder that timeless tales, like “The Classic of Mountains and Seas,” endure through the hands of artists, unveiling the ancient, wise, and spiritual dimensions buried within us all. Press Release 2024

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Art residency: 15 dragon spirits 2023

Self-organized residency called “15 dragon spirits” Taiwan, Taipei,  2023 Inessa’s exploration of dragon symbolism and mythology, sparked by her reading of the Classic of Mountains and Seas, took a profound turn during her self-organized residency titled “15 Dragon Spirits” in Taipei during the summer of 2023. This residency served as a pivotal moment in her artistic journey as she delved into the rich cultural tapestry of the region. Immersing herself in the vibrant artistic scene of Taipei, Inessa meticulously studied dragon representations in local temples and museums. The residency provided her with a unique opportunity to absorb both visual and textual information about dragons, deepening her understanding of their significance in Chinese folklore and mythology. One of the highlights of Inessa’s Taipei residency was her careful examination of museum scrolls, uncovering intricate details and nuances in the depictions of dragons. During this process, she stumbled upon a unique type of Chinese paper, which became a pivotal element in her subsequent artistic endeavors. Motivated by her newfound knowledge and inspired by the cultural wealth surrounding her, Inessa, along with the assistance of her two young daughters who are actively engaged in her creative process, crafted a captivating scroll. This artistic masterpiece, a blend of watercolors and pencils, showcased a series of mesmerizing blue dragons gracefully maneuvering through clouds. The collaborative effort with her daughters added a personal touch to the creation, making the scroll not only a visual representation of dragon mythology but also a reflection of Inessa’s familial bonds and shared creativity.

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Nature of Art Book Launch 2023

The book, titled “Nature of Art,” featured artworks by Inessa Kalabekova and poems by Alice Kalabekova. Seen thousands of times, the seemingly ordinary sights of Singaporean nature hid stories that were never told. “I loved exploring the nature of the garden city,” shared Inessa. “I enjoyed taking paths less traveled to soak in nature’s visuals, smells, and noises. Together with my family, we loved making up stories about what we saw.” One day, they spotted butterflies by the lake flying in an unusual manner, as if they could see something hidden from human eyes. “They are not alone. Dragon Number 7 is there too. He is just invisible to earth walkers,” guessed their daughter. The book and exhibition were an attempt to share these fantasies through the whimsical visual worlds of Inessa’s artworks and the poems by Alice Kalabekova. Bamboos, rustic benches, butterflies, and water lilies of Singapore parks… viewers would never see them the same way again. Programme highlights included: Surprising stories from the artist on how the ordinary sights of Singapore parks inspired the creation of whimsical artworks. Mesmerizing recitations of artworks-inspired poems by the 12-year-old author. A hunt for dragons and mythical creatures hidden in the artworks.    

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Fullerton Hotel 2023

Nature of Art, The fullerton hotel, Singapore 2023 Fullerton Gallery presents Inessa Kalabekova’s solo exhibition in Singapore, called “Nature of Art,” from March 1 to March 30, 2023. Here the artist explores the sights and secret corners of Singapore’s parks and gardens, through the medium of painting and collage. Each painting is in a dialogue with the poems of Alice Kalabekova, Inessa’s young daughter, in a process of co-creation. In the show Inessa looks at the peculiar Singaporean natural context with child-like eyes; bamboo, banana trees, butterflies, leaves, birds, flowers, and water lilies are not just decorative elements, or a backdrop to a peaceful walk. For her, they are animated entities, and each bush or branch can be the hiding place of a mythological creature. Press Release 2023  

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Botanic Gardens 2022

Nature of Art, Botanic Gardens, Singapore, 2022 Seen thousands of times, the seemingly ordinary sights of Singapore’s parks hide stories that are waiting to be told. Artist mother-daughter duo Inessa & Alice Kalabekova, love to explore nature, taking paths less travelled, soaking in the sights, smells, and sounds, and making up their own stories about the seen and the unseen. This exhibition is an attempt to tell these stories set in the Singapore Botanic Gardens, through the whimsical worlds of Inessa’s visuals and Alice’s words. Bamboos, rustic benches, butterflies, and water lilies… you won’t be able to see them the same way again. Press Release 2022  

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ArtWord 2022

ARTWORD PROJECT, Singapore, 2022 The ArtWord Project is a unique initiative that breathes new life into oracle bone scripts through contemporary artworks. In Chinese, ‘ArtWord’ translates to ‘文画,’ signifying the fusion of language and art, where a word is embodied in the drawing, and the picture itself becomes the word. Oracle bone scripts, ancient hieroglyphs with over 3000 years of uninterrupted history, served as the precursor to modern Chinese scripts, both traditional and simplified. Embracing the adage “A picture is worth a thousand words,” the ArtWord Project aims to foster an appreciation for ancient civilization by using creative interpretations of these Chinese scripts. Through modern artworks, the project endeavors to raise awareness of the rich history encapsulated in these hieroglyphs and encourages creative learning and their application in the context of our contemporary world.  

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Fauna Allegoria 2022

Solo Exibition, ArtSafe gallery, Singapore, 2020 “Fauna Allegoria” was an exhibition that featured 14 artists from Asia and Europe. The concept centered around the reconnection to the fantasy of nature from within. During a period of sudden immobility, with a universal desire to discover the world, the artists explored the genuine and free-spirited sense of nature in an enclosed environment. press-release-2022  

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Slow Art​​ 2020

Solo Exibition, ArtSafe gallery, Singapore, 2020 Inessa curated an exhibition that invites you to indulge in the beauty of deliberate creation. Titled “Slow Art,” this showcase features 26 pieces meticulously crafted over the course of a year. From original paintings to Rembrandt reproductions and Chinese calligraphy by her daughter, each artwork reflects Inessa’s careful process. Balancing colors and shapes with precision, she choreographs a visual dance on canvas. Step into this enchanting world and immerse yourself in the whimsical creations meticulously brought to life by Inessa. Press release 2020  

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