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French Style: Artist Irina Kotova, a Belarussian inspired by Paris


Notre Dame de Paris CC Irina Kotova (Paris Imaginaire)
Notre Dame de Paris CC Irina Kotova (Paris Imaginaire)
Irina Kotova
Irina Kotova by Charles Deroche, Paris 2012

Irina Kotova was born in Minsk (Belarus) and studied at the Belarusian State Academy of Arts, attaining a  Diploma of Graphic Art (2002). She is a graduate of St. Sergius Orthodox Theological in Paris with a Diploma of Theology (2007) and the Sorbonne with a Diploma in the History of Art, Master (2009).

Irina Kotova’s works have been displayed many times in personal exhibitions, one of which was held in The Belarusian National Museum of Art (2010-2011). Several exhibitions of the artist’s have been arranged around Europe, the United States, Canada, Russia and Belarus. Her pieces of art are kept in both public and private collections all over the world.

In 2010, Irina Kotova’s painting album Paris Imaginaire translated in three languages (French, Belarusian and Russian) was prepared and published in common with French writer Christophe Levalois and with the assistance of Ministry of Cultural Affairs of Belarus.

In the same year a new English version of the book Conversation of St Seraphim of Sarov with N.A Motovilv illustrated by Irina Kotova was published in Cambridge.

In 2012 the artists’s famous series of works “Imaginary Paris” (Paris Imaginaire) was displayed in the Russian Centre for Science and Culture in Paris and in other towns in France.

We are privileged to present an interview with the artist.


Irina Kotova
Parc Monceau CC Irina Kotova (Paris Imaginaire)

TGLF: Why did you choose Paris for your studies?

Paris is a city that inspires me especially… I find it exceptionally rich in both cultural and spiritual ways. There are many museums and libraries with wonderful collections, I love doing my research in the field of art history and Christian spirituality here, it really helps me to develop my own way in art.

TGLF: Who are three artists that you find most inspiring?

Oh, this is a very difficult question! The list should be much longer! But if I must choose just three artists whose artistic testimony is the prime example, I’d rather choose Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt and Vincent van Gogh.

TGLF: What are you working on now?

I am creating a new series of works, working over new projects and busy with organising exhibitions in France and other places.

Irina Kotova
Les Pyramides du Louvre CC Irina Kotova (Paris Imaginaire)

TGLF: Is there a topic you want to paint in particular?

Paris is always in my heart.

TGLF: How would you describe your style?

It is difficult for an artist to describe his or her style. In fact, I do not want to confine myself to one style or artistic trend. But in the case of my series Paris Imaginaire let me quote an Art Historian, Professor at the State Academy of Fine Arts of Belarus, E. Shunejka, who wrote about me: “(…) Her work is seen as a living extension of the remarkable French art movements of the 19th century to the first half of the 20th century combined with unforgettable works of the Impressionists, post-Impressionists, the Symbolists, Expressionists (…) vivid and expressive, performed in one breath, (they) have attracted great interest among connoisseurs and art collectors in France and Belarus. ‘

Irina Kotova
View of église Sainte-Clotilde from the roof of the Ministere CC Irina Kotova

TGLF: Do you have a favourite place in Paris to paint, to contemplate?

Yes, there are so many beautiful places! The Luxembourg Gardens, Notre-Dame de Paris, Pont Alexandre III, the Tuileries Gardens… or, I like simply having a walk along the Seine in a state of admiration at the view of the City of Lights!

Irina Kotova
St Seraphim of Sarov – illustration for the book The Conversation of St Seraphim of Sarov with N.A. Motovilov
(Cambridge, 2010 ) CC Irina Kotova

TGLF: What will be your next exhibition in France?

For the moment now I can not specify the dates and venue of this exhibition. But I can tell you that this is a new project with Christophe Levalois, a French journalist and writer, the author of the texts for my album “Paris Imaginaire.” This exhibition will be accompanied by a performance.

Irina Kotova
Irina Kotova in the Russian Centre for Science and Culture in Paris – expo 2012

In 2010, Beltele radio company released a documentary “Paris Imaginaire” (director Sergej Katier) devoted to the creative work of the artist. This film was awarded special prizes in International film festivals in Russia.


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