Art&Culture | Protagonists from Russia

The unexpected movements of paper


Thirty-three years old, born in Moscow, two diplomas, one in languages and the other one obtained at the British High School of Art and Design in Moscow. Marina Adamova uses paper to create works of art characterized by a special plasticity of volumes, leading to an unexpected sense of motion.

Marina Adamova (1)

It normally takes her one or two days, ten hours work each, to finalize each of her works of art, with work necessarily carried out before sunset, although, like many artists, Marina Adamova prefers would prefer working at night. This is work that helps develop patience, as well as an eye for composition, and also improves her photography skills. Her creativity has the capacity of constantly renewing thanks to the presence of so many talented artists worldwide who work with paper, thereby giving a positive boost to the development of creation and inspiration art skills. With lots of results already achieved and the dream to travel to Japan and South Korea…

Marina, tell us something about yourself: how did you start your journey as an artist?

«While I was preparing for my first personal exhibition Old Winter’s Tales in black’n’white graphics (ink and graphite works) which took place in March 2013, I was asked to add some colours to the list of works as the event was to be launched right on international women’s day. The curator of the exhibition saw my first paper-cutting piece in my portfolio and suggested that I made some work using the same technique. To tell the truth, I didn’t mean to practice paper-cutting after I first tried it in 2011, inspired by the art of Helen Musselwhite, as it turned out to be a rather irritating process for me. I lacked patience and gave up the idea at that time. But I had to give it another try and my first paper illustration series inspired by the story by L. Carroll Alice in wonderland saw the light of the day that spring. Perhaps I would have never started paper-cutting if I hadn’t been asked then. So I’m really thankful that things turned out this way!»

Your works of art express movement, they look like photo shoots! And one wouldn’t actually expect paper to move: where does this characteristic come from?

«First of all, I’m fond of nature: fall foliage, blowing wind, sea, storm, sunsets etc. And that can be easily seen in my artworks. Nature consists of continuous processes that are happening around us every second. The idea here is to show that movement in my art using paper, unstable composition, shadow play on the 2,5D details and viewer’s imagination. Live Paper is the main concept of my art – making the frozen moments, the visual play which fully gets your attention.»

Yours are works of art rich in details: where did you get the inspiration? And what is your favourit artwork?

«My favourite paper artworks are the 9th billow, Marilyn Monroe portrait, Winter fairy-tale for Sokolov. I like to make white pieces with white or ivory details on them with one contrasting colour in the composition. To me, the most important thing from the very beginning is to find the right movement and to make the right compositional decision for the piece to start it. And when it comes to details it’s the plot turn. I usually get inspiration from music, I get new emotions looking at everyday things from different angles, but I have no idea of how it works. I usually get the whole picture in my mind. My husband usually makes fun of me and says: «you’ve got a space Wi-Fi!»

Marina Adamova (2)

Let’s talk about portraits: what do your characters represent?

«The Paper portraits series has been a challenge for me, as I’ve never attended any art school unfortunately, although I have always wanted to be able to draw portraits. That is why I decided to practice my skills and develop them into paper. First, I thought about cutting the series of my favourite actors – that’s how the portraits of Pierre Richard, Rowan Atkinson and Marilyn came to life. Later, when I heard k-pop music and got inspired with it, I made the portraits of two members of Big Bang. And talking about music, Michael Jackson is the king, so I couldn’t help from making his portrait, as well. This series is an example of fan art, but I am planning to make the new characters for the coming collaborative paper art project.»

Let’s talk about paper: why did you choose paper and what characteristics should paper have for you to use it?

«Paper is a very precious material to me, as I have so many memories linked to paper items from my childhood that make me feel cozy and warm. Besides that, I like it because it’s a natural material. That’s why I keep all the paper scrap after the piece is done at my place to use it somehow in the next work, I just can’t throw it away. I prefer working with design papers of 240-300 g/m2, white or plain colours, and smooth texture. But each time I start working on a piece, I choose the paper according to the main idea of the piece. This way I can use various types of paper, combine them in one artwork – everything depends on the effect I want to achieve and the way I choose to make it. But I can say for sure that I’ll never choose less than 160 g/m2 paper for my work. I also use calques (tracing paper); sometimes I use watercolors to paint the tiny details of characters’ faces. White glue.»


What techniques do you use when working with paper? Can you describe them?

«I use a mixture of techniques in creating my artworks: I borrow quilling techniques by putting some details on the edge, flat paper-cutting makes my piece look more graphical and folding and curling makes the picture alive and gives it volume. My usual tools are OLFA design knife AK-3, awl, white glue and paper.»

Have you organized, or are you planning to organize, major exhibitions or shows to display your works of art which have been or are capable of changing or reinforcing you image?

«Last spring I was invited to the Paper Artist Collective, a young group of talented paper artists from all around the world: it’s been developing really fast and now we have more than 70 members. Our first collective exhibition took place in Oslo, Norway, in November. I took part in this exhibition with the Christmas decorations series inspired by the story of Alice in Wonderland. That became the first exhibition outside Russia I participated in. And the series itself became a success, as it gained a lot of attention in internet publications and this project was included in December’s BranD Magazine book, Mr.Paper. And next summer, the new PAC exhibition in the Gallery Mines d’Art in Geneva will be held. The artworks I’ve made for this event represent a new main stage for me as a paper artist.»


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