About

The paintings of award-winning artist Anastasia Rurikov-Simes have been featured in solo and group exhibitions in museums and galleries, including Art-Monaco,Grimaldi Forum in Monaco; Asia Contemporary in Hong Kong; the Museum of Contemporary Art, the International Visions Gallery, the Alla Rogers Gallery, and the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Washington DC; the Zalman Gallery in New York; the Rybinsk Art Museum in Rybinsk, Russia, the Tula Art Museum in Tula, Russia, Dom Nashchiokina and ART-MANEZH in Moscow.   Her work is in public and private collections, including those of the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow and the Center for the National Interest in Washington DC.  

The paintings of award-winning artist Anastasia Rurikov-Simes have been featured in solo and group exhibitions in museums and galleries, including Art-Monaco,Grimaldi Forum in Monaco; Asia Contemporary in Hong Kong; the Museum of Contemporary Art, the International Visions Gallery, the Alla Rogers Gallery, and the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Washington DC; the Zalman Gallery in New York; the Rybinsk Art Museum in Rybinsk, Russia, the Tula Art Museum in Tula, Russia, Dom Nashchiokina and ART-MANEZH in Moscow.   Her work is in public and private collections, including those of the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow and the Center for the National Interest in Washington DC.  

As an artist, I often find it difficult to explain my paintings. From my earliest childhood, I have been influenced by the advice of my artist grandfather, who told me, “if you really have something important to say, draw it rather than putting it into words. Words will disappear anyway.”

If I were asked to describe my art in one sentence, I would use the words of Gabrielle Garcia Marquez – “the world was so new that many things had no names and you had to point your finger at them.”
- Anastasia R. Simes

ARTIST STATEMENT
All of my life I have been fascinated with the “The Human Heart” – its inner workings, broad vistas, its mysteries and drama. As humans, we are constant battlefields. Each day we are pulled in different directions by the many voices that reside in our head, our heart, our heaven, and the underworld, and the voices of our ancestors and voices from childhood. We are actors on a stage of our own life, soldiers on all sides of our inner war, and seducers and the seduced. We live in a turning sphere restricted by time, filled with fire and surrounded by water. In the midst of our own contradictions we attempt to make sense of our lives. Each day we try to decide which way to turn at yet another intersection. And this almost alchemical moment of creating one’s fate is the one that I depict as an artist.

In my paintings I often use close-ups of my subjects; nothing in this physical world is close enough for me. I use symbols because they are the most direct language that speaks to our soul. I use strong colors for emphasis and to give the right “sound” to the intensity of what I want to convey.

My painting vocabulary consists of:

Red, my primary color. It is the color of passion, flesh and blood, and the clay from which Adam was sculpted. It also represents earth, demonic forces, sacred rage, and love.

Black, the canvas in which our world was created, which I often use as a background. It is the silence of the universe just before all things came into existence. It is color of promise and unseen power.

Blue, the color of heaven and cool breezes of the celestial presence. It is the color of resolution and mercy, harmony and hope.

White, the color of purity and forgiveness. It is the color of childhood and protection.

Gold, the color of divinity and our innermost sacred feelings. It is color of conversations with God.

The world is constantly shifting through its own processes, changing perceptions and history, changing its “set and costume designs.” Politics produces breathtaking special effects to accompany the spectacle of its chess game; technical progress promises us eternal life and seduces us with the new apples.

Through the centuries only one thing remains unchanged: the nature of our heart – with its fears and victories, the ability to experience both beauty and evil, and a primal instinct to create a “home” and love our children. I can endlessly look at it . It is what moves my brush.

- Anastasia Rurikov Simes

SOLO EXHIBITIONS

2013 Tula Art Museum, Tula, Russia
2013 Rybinsk Art Museum, Rybinsk, Russia
2013 Asia Contemporary, Hong Kong
2013 Art-Monaco, Grimaldi Forum, Monaco
2012 International Visions Gallery, Washington, DC
2009 Rosslyn Spectrum Gallery, Arlington, VA
2008 Rosslyn Spectrum Gallery, Arlington,VA
2004 Embassy of the Russian Federation, Washington, DC
2003 Alla Rogers Gallery, Washington, DC
2000 Embassy of the Russian Federation, Washington, DC
1999 Zalman Gallery, New York, NY
1998 Artist’s Museum, Washington, DC
1995 Alla Rogers Gallery, Washington, DC
1992 Bochum Club, Bochum, Germany

GROUP EXHIBITIONS

2014 “Viva la Vida!”, Dom Nashchokina, Moscow, Russia
2014 “Small Work Show”, International Vision Gallery, Washington , DC
2013 “Adam and Eve”, Dom Nashchokina, Moscow, Russia
2012 “Flowers are Divine”, Dom Nashchokina, Moscow, Russia
2011 ART-MANEZH, Moscow, Russia
2011 “Family Values”, Dom Nashchokina, Moscow, Russia
2010 “Snow,” Russia House, Washington, DC
2010 “Nudes,” Dom Nashchokina, Moscow, Russia
2009 “Palette of Prestigious”, Russia House, Washington, DC
2008 “Expression of the Spirit”, Dom Nashchokina, Moscow, Russia
2008 “Figures and Faces”, International Vision Gallery, Washington, DC
2004 “Celebration of Woman: Vision and Movement”, Edison Place Gallery, Washington, DC
2002 “Small Work Show”, International Vision Gallery, Washington, DC
1999 Art-O-Matic, Washington, DC
1996 MOCA, Washington, DC
1996 “Seventh Street International Exhibition”, The John A. Wilson Art Center, Washington, DC
1992 Exhibition of Animalists, Moscow, Russia
1991 Young Artists Exhibition, Moscow, Russia
1988 Young Film Artists Exhibition, Moscow, Russia

SELECTED COLLECTIONS

The State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow
Center for the National Interest, Washington DC
Collection of Yuri Ushakov, Foreign Policy Assistant to the President of Russia

THEATER

2004 – Resident Designer, Synetic Theater, Arlington, Virginia (2004 – Present)
2013 Three Musketeers ,Synetic Theater, Arlington , VA
2013 Tempest , Synetic Theater, Arlington , VA
2012 Taming of The Shrew, Synetic Theater, Arlington , VA
2010 Master and Margarita, Synetic Theater, Washington, DC
2010 King Arthur, Synetic Theater, Arlington , VA
2010 Othello, Synetic Theater ,Kennedy Center, Washington ,DC
2010 Anthony and Cleopatra, Synetic Theater,Washington ,DC
2009 Dracula, Synetic Theater , Arlington , VA
2009 Midsummer Night Dream, Synetic Theater , Arlington , VA
2009 Dante, Synetic Theater , Arlington , VA
2008 Carmen, Synetic Theater ,Kennedy Center, Washington ,DC
2008 Romeo and Juliet, Synetic Theater, Arlington , VA
2007 A Christmas Carol, Synetic Theater , Arlington , VA
2007 Macbeth, Synetic Theater, Arlington , VA
2006 Frankenstein, Synetic Theater, Kennedy Center, Washington, DC
2006 Dracula, Synetic Theater, Arlington , VA
2005 Dybbuk, Theater J and Synetic Theater, Arlington, Virginia
2005 Bohemians, Synetic Theater, Arlington , VA
2005 Golconda, Lucy Bowen McCauly Dance, Arlington, Virginia
2004 Master and Margarita, Synetic Theater , Arlington , VA
2004 Fathers and Sons, Stanislavsky Theater, Washington, DC

AWARDS & HONORS

2011 Othello, Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Costume Design,
2010 Midsummer Night Dream, Helen Hayes Award Nomination for Outstanding Costume Design
2010 Dante, Synetic Theater, Helen Hayes Award Nomination for Outstanding Costume Design
2009 Romeo and Juliet, Helen Hayes Award Nomination for Outstanding Set Design
2008 Macbeth, Helen Hayes Award Nomination for Outstanding Costume Design and Outstanding Set Design

EDUCATION

Art School of the Russian State Institute of Cinematography, Moscow, Russia, MFA
Surikov School of Fine Arts, Moscow, Russia, Diploma
Krasnopresnenskaya Art School, Moscow, Russia, Diploma

PERSONAL

Born in Moscow, Russia, in 1969. Moved to the United States in 1993. Now a U.S. citizen.

Marina Djabbarzade for the "Family Values" catalog.

Navigating Anastasia’s paintings is like stepping through the looking glass and entering a world populated by familiar creatures endowed with magical powers. Whether depicting human figures looming large over cityscapes or wild beasts endowed with human expressions, her work evokes the mysterious forces dormant in each of us. Her images, like shamans, intercede between humanity and spirits. Calling on the spirits to heal, to soothe, to lift the tedious burden of the mundane and, at times, to amuse.

Under the guise of naïve representations, lies a deliberate stylistic choice that best meets the reinterpretation of age old myths and the representation of invented ones. Shedding her academic education, and moving away from portraiture, she re-tells stories with a fresh perspective in her small works on paper where human protagonists’ faces are mask like, their features stylized to depict a single expression, to transcend a specific emotion. As such they recall the iconic practice of classical Greek theater. The legacy of the theater, where Anastasia successfully worked for many years and was nominated for prestigious awards for set decoration and costume design, is also witnessed in the choice of the specific episode she pictorially narrates. Whether inspired by sacred texts, dreams or personal experience, each picture captures the essence of the story vividly seizing the turning point in the narrative.

In exploring the mystery of life, the female form becomes the representation of the universe that both protects life and nurtures eternal emotional paradoxes. Like the primeval goddess, the monumental Woman in the motherhood series holds fully formed adults as well as infants in her womb. In this sanctuary the fruits of her womb yearn to complement each other, at times competing at others consoling each other.

Whereas the universe is a shelter it is also a world that is governed by an intricate, albeit invisible, mechanism, which employs a multitude of deities to maintain a semblance of order. One such heavenly laborer is depicted in the “devil hunter” where a tall winged figure is seen impassibly strolling out of the picture with his catch of the day, a small and visibly angry little red devil in a bird cage, unaware that his prey’s accomplice is running behind him ladder in hand. In the “snow maker”, a female giant – colander in hand – stoops over a miniature house and gently shakes the snow unto the lone dwelling. Miraculous divine intervention is further recorded in the retablo – like appeal for a husband where a prominent naked bride is kneeling in prayer to Christ floating in the heavens above her while two angels, unbeknown to her, are descending to earth with their gift of a handsome groom. Acting as a chronicles of wonders, most of the small pictures are imbued with an impish sense of humor that cannot fail to elicit a smile while they simultaneously incite the contemplation of infinite possibilities.

Recurrent in her iconography is the bull, exuding strength, determination and occasionally rage. The sense of power is heightened by her use of highly saturated primary colors and her palette of bold reds, blacks, and whites, evenly applied in simplified shapes creates a lustrous, shimmering mesmerizing effect. Power emanates from her images not only by virtue of the treatment of paint and the intensity of color but also by the choice and use of a variety of power symbols. While domestic animals – upholding the viewer’s gaze – are exalted like colossi, in full frontal depictions and close crops that push the boundaries of the canvas to the limit of explosion; epitomes of power, such as Napoleon, lionized by history as a monument to military might and power, is cruelly diminished by being subjected to primal human desire. Donning Armani sunglasses and exposing a hairy chest under a partially unbuttoned shirt, the famous Corsican betrays our credulous belief in the super hero. The conqueror is depicted displaying hints of vulgarity and vulnerability in the “Dinner with Napoleon” series as he woos, is ensnared and ultimately defeated by the ultimate temptress.

In contrast to the tragic fate of some archetypes like the Minotaur – a product of the forbidden love for the divine made flesh – cursed to eat human flesh and thus exiled by puny men fearing for their lives to Daedalus’ labyrinth; another predominant theme is that of the endless cycle of life – that born out of carnal love – that carries a mystical promise of the continued regeneration of the spirit. In Anastasia’s universe inanimate objects, the animal and vegetal realms become imbued with the life force that animates us. Through her brush, they are transformed into sentient beings capable of emotions, and often incarnating the constant duality we experience as both tyrants and victims.

While Anastasia’s art is reminiscent of symbolism, surrealism, the Nabis and Rousseau; her singular allegories recall South America’s magic realism literature and awaken ancient longings long buried by our frenetic daily preoccupations. To gaze at it is to open a window to our soul.