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Russian Painter Gives Views on Art in UPF Interview

Moscow, Russia—After her paintings appeared in an exhibition in Ankara, Turkey, Ambassador for Peace Olga Beketova was interviewed online by UPF-Russia. The interview, conducted by UPF-Moscow leader Dmitry Samko on September 7, 2023, attracted about 300 views.

Ms. Beketova, who is located in the Russian city of Samara, is an active supporter of UPF’s International Association of Arts and Culture for Peace (IAACP).

The exhibition of contemporary Russian artists was held in the exhibition hall of the Cumhuriyet newspaper under the title "Russian Art Show in Ankara."

The event had over a hundred participants and attracted the attention of both cultural figures from the Turkish capital and representatives of foreign countries, promoting art and cultural exchange between nations.

The head of the Russian House in Ankara, Alexander Sotnichenko, thanked the Turkish newspaper for its cooperation and spoke about the Russian artists who brought their canvases to Ankara to allow the city to enjoy their creativity. An important part of the activities of the Russian House in Ankara is strengthening ties between Russia and Turkey in the field of culture.

The head of the Cumhuriyet Foundation, Yshyk Kansu, emphasized the importance of this interaction and expressed his intention to continue friendship with the Russian House. This event became part of a rich cultural program that contributes to the development of friendly relations between countries and peoples.

Here is a translation of the online interview with Olga Beketova:

What emotions and impressions did you experience while participating in the Russian Art Show in Ankara? What are the main ideas and themes of your work in this exhibition?

I am happy about every exhibition. This is always an opportunity for me to communicate with the viewer through paintings. This exhibition was special to me for a number of reasons: Firstly, the Cumhuriyet newspaper itself is the oldest in Turkey, soon to be 100 years old. It is iconic, and it is an honor for me to exhibit paintings in the cultural hall of one of the main publications in Turkey.

Secondly, I am especially pleased to collaborate with the Russian House in Ankara, with whose support this exhibition was organized. The head of [the Russian federal government agency] Rossotrudnichestvo, Alexander Sotnichenko, and his team are doing a lot to strengthen Russian-Turkish relations and develop culture.

If we talk about the idea, the paintings were selected according to the national color. It was important for us to create an atmosphere of Russian culture and emphasize the national spirit. That is why I selected such paintings as “Russian Beauty,” “Wild Flowers,” and others.

Your works contain motifs from different cultures and nations. What ideas and messages do you want to convey to viewers through this multi-faceted palette of images?

I am a woman of peace. I don’t feel barriers or boundaries in my creativity and when communicating with other people. The world is people, and even though we speak different languages, we are united by common cultural values.

At the same time, I like to emphasize national characteristics in clothing and the subjects of my paintings. For me, working with an ethnic theme is an attempt to unite, to “weave” a single canvas of images, to show their beauty, uniqueness, and at the same time unity and harmony.

With bated breath I look at the patterns, national interior items, and authentic pieces of art. This inspires me.

What artists and art styles have influenced your work?

Oh, this is a big “company.” Some artists are a source of inspiration for me in terms of color: for example, Mark Rothko, Caravaggio, Wassily Kandinsky. The contemporary artist Hope Gangloff is my example of working with line.

I am in awe of Gustav Klimt's decorative elements and imagery.

For me, [Kazimir] Malevich is an example of a comprehensive approach to art; his manifestos and works are a whole science.

Andy Warhol—there is a depth in the apparent simplicity of his paintings that never ceases to amaze me.

I can list names endlessly. Of course, the Impressionists and post-Impressionists are an example of working with color and conveying feelings and emotions through them.

And I will separately highlight the work of Van Gogh. His paintings are always before my eyes. I dream of going to his museum in the Netherlands.

How do you see the role of art in strengthening friendship between peoples and breaking down borders?

I am sure that art is the only “glue” that can connect everything around: cultures, nations, peoples, regardless of circumstances.

Your art calls for sincerity, freedom and expression. What values and emotions do you want to convey through your paintings?

I will say, in the words of my collectors and viewers, “Joy, youth, energy, happiness, positivity.” It is these emotions that people write and talk to me about at exhibitions and in comments to paintings.

The values that accompany me and help me in life are: freedom, courage, joy, sincerity, patience, loyalty to yourself and your ideas. I have a series of paintings, each of which expresses one value. On the canvases, each value is presented in the form of a female image. I went to Ankara with them in 2023. This is a bright series.

Almost all of the paintings are now in private collections.

What plans and initiatives do you plan to implement in the future in the field of art and culture?

I have to participate in two more exhibitions in the autumn. The first exhibition will be organized in honor of the birthday of the Turkish Republic in the gallery at the Portakal Çiceği Residence at the invitation of the famous Turkish philanthropist and collector Ahmet Sahin. I have already participated in an exhibition at this residence in 2022, and this exhibition is also a great honor for me.

The second event is the festival of Russian-Turkish culture “Russian-Turkish Week of Culture and Art.” The festival is organized by the art director of the G gallery, Kristina Lantsova, and international art curator Ekaterina Samitina with the assistance of the Russian House and Ankara University. Both exhibitions will be held in Ankara.

I am also planning exhibitions in other cities of Turkey: Istanbul and Antalya.

And there are plans to participate in exhibitions in other countries. But negotiations are still ongoing.

You are not only an artist but also actively support other artists and organize cultural events. What is the mission and message behind your efforts?

I enjoy seeing how artists develop and seeing their success. They inspire me with their success. It’s like a closed cycle: You share knowledge, support, inspire, help, and you are helped and inspired.

Artists often write to me and ask for advice. I am happy to give it, suggest it, and share my experience.

They develop, and this makes them freer and happier. And the world thus becomes happier. But the world is us, each individually and all together.

By Dmitry Samko, chairman, UPF-Moscow
Thursday, September 7, 2023


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