Meet the artist… Irina Starkova
Irina Starkova in her studio
Irina Starkova is an artist currently studying­­­ BA (Hons) Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art.

What was the inspiration behind the piece(s)

My work questions the relationship between mind and body and the correlations between our conscious mental states and subconscious dream states. “Absent Minded” deals with philosophical thought experiments and how they throw up fundamental questions relating to our spiritual and physical identities.

Irina Starkova holding one of her paintings

Who has influenced your work the most? 

I’m really inspired by the work of strong female artists, in particular Cecily Brown’s work, the rawness in Jenny Saville’s portraits and Anthea Hamilton. I also really like the work of Marina Abramovic and Niki de Saint Phalle – they really broke down barriers for female artists and have inspired some of my thought process.

When did you know that you want to pursue artist career?

I have worked many different jobs, but I always knew in the back of my mind that I would end up being an artist. No job ever gave me the satisfaction and kept my interest for long enough. There was something in making work that was addictive. Not every experiment works, but you constantly learn from these experiences and it is a form of expression like no other.

Left: Irina Starkova's studio. Right: Irina Starkova sitting on a chair.

What do you want viewers to take away from your work?

Some of the work is intentionally expressively vague, which is facilitated by the fluidity of the paint. Often there is an ephemeral moment represented with a suggestion of a sexual undertone. The works are open-ended, so there are many different ways of interpreting them and I want the viewer to explore these meanings. The glaze of the pieces allows the viewer to consider this in a reflective sense, connecting with the work and look upon themselves and their different emotional and psychological states. It is this moment of self-reflection and oneness that grounds the work.

What three things are essential to your practice?

Even though great studio spaces are becoming harder to find in London, I am still a firm believer in an artist needing a studio of one’s own. I think in my practice it’s important to have a place to think, to try out new ideas and to make a mess! Also, a camera and a notebook.

Left: Irina Starkova's studio. Right: Irina Starkova painting.

What is the most inspiring place or exhibition you’ve been to in London? 

My most vivid memory was when my mother took me to the Michael Landy performance piece “Breakdown” where he destroyed all his possessions at the defunct C&A store on Oxford Street. I was 13 and it was the first time I connected with conceptual art. The act of destruction of his personal possessions on London’s busiest high street resonated with me and made me realise the possibilities in art. I remember seeing people crying, stealing his possessions off the conveyer belt as they were about to be destroyed – it was incredible to see how people responded to his work and how it was a mirror onto society and consumerist culture.