INESSA KALABEKOVA

Artist Statement

Art as a Path to Personal Growth

Let’s start with the fact that, for me, art and self-improvement are inseparable, reflecting my journey of personal growth. I’ve searched for a theory that encapsulates this fusion into a single word that defines what I do, but I haven’t found one. Why do I need to learn so much? When will my list of self-improvements end? It seems like never. Yet, I have come closer to understanding why I pursue this: personal realization. It’s reminiscent of Confucius and his Six Arts. Thus, Confucian educational philosophy advocated for the personal engagement in six diverse forms of practical experience as a path towards moral cultivation. Although the Six Arts involved practical skills and training, their primary purpose was the shaping of character to foster reliability. Even if it sounds somewhat or even very pretentious, let it be so. Art, for me at this moment, is a form of high art that plays a role in civilizing me and cultivating my mind, not merely a creation for visual pleasure and the expression of personal emotion. Books: Reading Chinese Painting. Beyond Forms and Colours, A Comparative Approach to Art Appreciation by Sophia Suk-mun Law. An Illustrated Guide to 50 Masterpieces of Chinese Paintings By Huang Kunfeng. The Paintings of Korean Shaman Gods, History, Relevance and Role as Religious Icons by Kin Tae-Gon.

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What is intriging me? Anselm Kiefer

Anselm Kiefer’s art deeply resonates with me for numerous compelling reasons. Firstly, his profound exploration of historical memory reverberates within my imagination. Through his art, Kiefer delves into intricate themes such as the impact of Nazism, the complexities of war and peace, and the intersections of religion and philosophy. This immersive journey into history not only educates but also provokes me to ponder the past and its profound implications for the present and future. Moreover, I find myself captivated by Kiefer’s self-identification as an alchemist and Kabbalist, which adds an intriguing dimension to his artistic persona. His directive to “read” rather than passively contemplate his works hints at a wealth of symbolism and concealed meanings awaiting revelation. Furthermore, his fascination with the myths of ancient Mesopotamia, as exemplified in pieces like the wooden sculpture “Humamba,” adds depth to his artistry. “Humamba,” portraying the guardian of the sacred cedar forest, showcases Kiefer’s adeptness at intertwining ancient mythologies with contemporary relevance, drawing viewers into a realm where history, spirituality, and art converge. This aspect of his artistic practice intensifies my fascination with Kiefer’s work, as it suggests a labyrinth of symbols and narratives awaiting exploration. Anselm Kiefer’s poignant exploration of the power of words strikes a profound chord within me. His artworks serve as poignant reminders of how a single phrase, often uttered without thought, can unleash immense pain and suffering upon the world. In Kiefer’s vision, words possess weighty significance, capable of shaping destinies and altering the trajectory of history. This thematic motif in his art confronts us with the harsh realities of our fractured world, where the scars of war and conflict persist. Kiefer’s vision transcends the confines of history and philosophy to embrace the expansive tapestry of cosmic interconnectedness. He envisions the concept that “everything is connected,” drawing parallels between string theory, Norse mythology’s Norns, and the enigmatic Gordian Knot. To him, cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation embodies layers of memory etched within the fabric of space, serving as the cornerstone of our comprehension of the universe’s earliest epochs. In Kiefer’s worldview, the most ancient layers of memory find sanctuary in myths, transcending the limitations of human temporality. He posits that while science is invaluable in its pursuit of knowledge, it can never attain the epistemological completeness inherent in myth. According to him, each scientific revelation merely opens the door to deeper realms of the unknown, underscoring the enduring significance of myth in our quest for understanding.

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What is intriging me?

I’m sitting in our kitchen in Uzbekistan, surrounded by family – my dad, his new wife, and my brother, with whom things are tense. I just got back to university after a three-week break. While chatting with classmates on Zoom about our upcoming coursework, we also touched on our artistic interests. But just as I was about to share, my headphones stopped working, leaving me silent. Now, in the quiet morning hours, I think about these missed chances to connect. I’m really into history mysteries, how our lives twist and turn unexpectedly. Ancient artifacts in museums really catch my eye; they seem to hold secrets and watch us silently. The beauty of old statues compared to today’s world is something I think about a lot. I’m curious about the rituals they were part of and the people who made or owned them. I love diving into stories from ancient times, imagining the people behind them. The way old chants became famous Greek tales over time is fascinating. It makes me wonder who these stories were meant for and how they’ve lasted so long.  

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For me, being creative means total freedom and self-understanding

Living in Singapore for 18 years has its challenges, especially the routine of confirming my stay every two years. This process makes it clear that where I live isn’t entirely up to me. It adds a unique twist to my life as a creator. For me, being creative means total freedom and self-understanding. My art is like a mirror reflecting who I am, a way of accepting myself. Unlike strict logic, my creativity comes from being sincere, true to my feelings, guiding my work. The uncertainty about staying in Singapore adds a layer of complexity to my creativity. The chance of external factors moving me around affects what I create. These limits become part of my story, shaping the themes I explore and how I express myself. I know people are different, shaped by what they know and go through. Even with external limits, I believe my inner freedom is untouched. I see these limits as challenges that push me forward instead of holding me back. When picking topics and places to discuss, I bring in my situation on purpose. I want to make these limits part of my art, facing challenges directly and using them to move ahead. But, we all start differently, and our freedoms are influenced by what we know, our experiences, and where we were born.  

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Exploring the Mystique of Art and Symbolism

In the realm of art and symbolism, I find myself drawn into the intricate dance of transformation. It’s like watching a canvas come alive, with each brushstroke carrying the whispers of history and culture.  One of the most captivating tales is the evolution of the Buddha’s image in the ancient Gandhara region, where the influence of Greek art gave birth to stunningly lifelike depictions.    But what truly captures my heart is the enchanting journey of the male Buddha transforming into the beloved goddess of mercy, Guanyin.  From compassion to diversity, her story reflects the ever-changing tapestry of human beliefs.    It reminds me that myths, like clay in the hands of a skilled sculptor, mold and adapt to serve our deepest needs and desires.    Share your thoughts! How do you see the interplay of art, symbolism, and cultural transformation? Let’s dive into this enchanting journey together. 

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