“Real and surreal merge here: opposites unite, vibrant and sparkling flows into dark and misty, sexual and sinister twists with spiritual and loving.” This is how Russian artist Tanya Shatseva describes her paintings. A look at her website or Instagram page shows what a perfect description this is of her art. The women in Shateva’s paintings look like characters in a fairytale gone wrong. They are seen covered in rats, naked and alone in a forest, and about to be engulfed by a giant wave.
The women in Shateva’s paintings are always beautiful, and they rarely look scared. The often dark imagery of her work is juxtaposed against a vibrant color palette of acrylics, the perfect optical realism of her drawings abstracted by the bright pinks, blues, and yellows of her paint. Each of her paintings tell an entire story, and captures the moment when everything starts to go wrong.
Shatseva’s world building in her painting has earned her a great deal of respect in the art world – she has almost 100k followers on instagram, receives commissions, and is featured on many online publications. Part of what has gotten Shatseva such a large following is her ability to turn her real life into the same dreamy world of her paintings. Shatseva has long black and blue hair, a wardrobe that consists almost exclusively of long black dresses, and is rarely seen without her trademark bright red lipstick. She also lives a life worthy of being the subject of one of her dreamy and dark paintings – she has a pet rat named Zork which she describes as her “black angel of the dark and chaos,” and has a knack for finding places in Saint Petersburg that look like they are straight out of a fairytale.
Aside from her art, Shatseva writes on her website that she “has been modeling internationally, performed as a show-girl in Turkey, was a stripper in the US, learned Buddhism in a Korean temple, got an interpreter degree, was hopelessly in love with a girl, started a novel, suffocated in public, went into meditation and breathing practices.” The border between a dream and a nightmare seems to be where Shatseva feels most at home – both in her art and in her life.