Russian mural artist finds her voice in Turkey

A mural by Tatiana Alekhina in Tel Aviv, Israel, 2018.

Moving to Istanbul some eight years ago, gifted mural artist Tatiana Alekhina sustains her work with Art Duvar, the art platform that she opened at the beginning of this year

Tatiana Alekhina is a mural artist from Russia who works in Turkey. The 35-year-old artist, whom you can follow on Instagram (@artduvar), recently shared her thoughts on art with Daily Sabah. Graduating from an art high school and architecture and fine arts academy in Russia, Alekhina started to work as a designer in 2001 when she was still a student. After working in various fields such as showcases, stage and stage design, she decided to move to Turkey in 2011. The artist, who has been living in Turkey for eight years, said that she had never thought that she would live in this country.

Russian mural artist finds her voice in Turkey
She sustains her work with the art platform Art Duvar in Turkey.

Noting that she had never come to a holiday resort in Turkey before coming to Istanbul, Alekhina stressed, “In our family, we were always talking about living in Istanbul as a joke. However, I never imagined I would come to the city one day. I was thinking of moving somewhere else. When I saw Istanbul and its weather combined with a perfect historical atmosphere, I made my decision.”

Childhood hobby

Alekhina has been interested in art since she was born. When she was a little child, she was drawing pictures on the walls of her room, and her mother did not stop her. This was her way of playing. “I think it is in my character to make any area special to myself. There was no wall that I did not paint in my room. Then, this hobby grew and became serious. I began earning my living from decoration,” she added.

Noting that big projects that require responsibility draw her, the artist remarked that she started the Art Duvar (Art Wall) project in Turkey in January this year. Having made murals in both Russia and Turkey, Alekhina is someone open to new ideas. She likes learning new techniques and concepts in her job. She explained, “I like improving myself. If I make no progress as an artist, it means the end of my job. I absolutely try something new in every mural. There should be nothing difficult for me in this art.”

Russian mural artist finds her voice in Turkey
The artist uses nature and animals in her murals.

Implying that the period of painting a mural changes in line with projects, Alekhina said that she does not extend this period as it is a job. She generally uses paints of different colors and brushes on the walls. However, she may also use other material like acrylic paints, aerosols, sponges, chalk, coal and fabric according to the surface, warmth, light and place of the mural. “The most important thing while painting a mural is to create a concept in sketch and to have the best result while painting it on the wall. When I transfer this sketch to the wall, it should be long-lasting. Therefore, I need to know all the materials.”

Art as message

Alekhina does not make art but lives it with drive and motivation. She said that handcrafts are a tradition in Russian’s educational system. Growing up in harmony with art, she thinks that art should be in every stage of life. She aims to spread this idea with her art: “I try to show people that art can be everywhere. I want them to give importance to the arts and artists. We live in a world which is so fast in the technological sense. We are all in a rush and hurry. We need some peace. We can change this situation with art.”

She continued, “I started the Art Duvar project as an art platform. I want to provide training, art introduction work, workshops and exhibitions as part of it. I want to work with children. They have more creativity and should not lose it. If I can manage to open an art school in the future, I will be really happy.”

The artist is also very hopeful as she has seen that the cultural level in Turkey has developed quickly in recent times. “There are many art activities in Turkey such as exhibitions, music and cinema festivals. I like theater and opera, and I can find everything that I want here now. Since I grew up as a kid in Russia, I am used to going to concerts and plays. I hope that people in Turkey will soon begin to show interest in these events at earlier ages. I want Art Duvar to be a tiny part of this major change,” she emphasized.

Inspired by love while painting murals, Alekhina also travels a lot. Highlighting that traveling widens perspectives, she noted that this is significant for an artist. For her, meeting new cultures and nature is always impressive. “Societies express themselves according to the place where they live. For example, Turks are good in patterns. While the Japanese use nature figures, Africans focus on animals. These shapes turn into snow in Russia. When I see different expressions of artists, I am informed and then apply them to my work,” she said.