Svetlana Grishina:'I think that the basis of human existence is conflict'

Svetlana Grishina is a painter, sculptor and installation-maker based in London and Moscow.

Can you tell us about the inspiration and concerns behind your art practice? For example why did you choose to focus on the conflicting theories of science and religion?

I think that the basis of human existence is conflict. People allocate themselves into groups that oppose other groups, a kind of “wearers of red socks against the wearers of green socks” and this breeds narcissism and conflict and aggression. I think it was upon reading Richard Dawkins’ “Postmodernism Disrobed” that felt a desire to distance myself from all sorts of reactionary militant positions when a kind of phantom of a weaker opponent is created to then be triumphantly destroyed in the statement you’re making. I am more interested in being than in existence, and more interested in the skeletal structure of the foot than the colour of the sock that’s put on it. I also make work about suspending the dualism of life and death, eternity and temporality, desire and knowledge, thought and fantasy. At some point I was very enamoured with the Tao Te Ching, which I have read in about 5 different translations and I sometimes joke that all my works are – essentially – Yin-yangs. Taoism is also one of the sources of Alchemical Discourse. And Alchemy is currently one of my main sources of inspiration.


You have shown you work several times in Moscow, what’s the art scene like there and do you think audiences react differently to what you do there than in the UK?

I am currently based in Moscow for most of the academic year. For me, it is certainly easier to sustain my practice in Moscow than it would be in London. Rent, public transport and cigarettes are much cheaper, it is easier to land jobs and make extra income teaching English and it is easier to keep up with the scene because it is much smaller. I like quite a lot of work that is being produced in Moscow but that is also true of London. I’m not sure if my work is more in place here, I don’t think people read it differently. I see resonances between what I am doing and what other people are doing both here and there.


You are a writer and a poet as well as a visual artist, how do these various elements fit together?

I actually wanted to be a writer since very early childhood and up to teenagehood. I wrote my first story (and illustrated it) when I was about 5 years old, and throughout all my school years I have been writing absurdist short stories. The reason I decided to go to an art-school was actually my final GCSE mark for “Fine Art”. It was one of the top ten results in the whole of the UK and I received I special letter from the examination board and I thought: “If I’m doing so well in Fine Art, I should probably pursue further study of it.” But then when I got into art-school, and continued writing stories, and brought them to my tutorials, and my tutor would ask me: “How perverse are you? If you were on a writing course, would you be making drawings?” so I decided to smuggle my writing into my visual art-practice as a kind of contraband – and this is how the series with poems written on map-pins came to exist. Quite recently I wrote a mini fairy-tale to accompany an object I made and it worked very well. I still write sometimes – but a lot less than I used to because I simply don’t have time. I have submitted two of my poems to the next New River Press publication and the editor liked them – so they will appear in the upcoming New River Press yearbook.


What are you plans for the future? What’s next for your practice?

I’m still working a day-job – I read lectures in Contextual Studies at an art-school here in Moscow. It is a nice and interesting job and I enjoy it a lot, but I would definitely prefer to dedicate more time to make my own work and to begin making profit from it. I’d like to find a good representative gallery both in Moscow and in London. I’m also thinking about moving back to the UK in two or three years time (at the moment I can’t really afford it). After graduating from art-school I didn’t make any work at all for 5 years (between 2011 and 2016) – because I was put off by all the virtual bureaucracy and the fees for open-call submissions and the unreliability of it all. But now I’m certain that I will continue making work – that much I know for sure, I’ll have to wait and see where it takes me


You can find out more about Svetlana's work at and

Her next projects are:

- A solo-show at “The Overcoat Gallery” as part of Cosmoscow art-fair , opening September 9th, “How to tell an artist from her Art”

- A group show within Moscow International Biennale parallel program, opening September 19th,“Find me”

- A group show at the Spazio Kanz within the parallel program of the 57th Venice Biennale, opening October 1st “What’s the point”

- A group show at Camden Image Gallery , opening November 17th.

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