When Marina Koldobskaya paints, she actually performs the process of painting.  She does this to emphasize the physicality of the medium, because in the process of creating a work she uses her entire body to cover a vast expanse of a mural with paint – standing on her feet, using a ladder, or crouching.  In her performances, she creates murals revealing to the curious eye the tricks of the painting trade:  how to make an illusion with minimal means of paint and brush and how to do so in such a way that it becomes powerful and convincing.  She starts just with a few movements of the brush, laying the ground with white primer, which looks like an abstract daubing, upon which she splatters some red paint and outlines it with black.  Gradually, her forceful lines and distinct marks assume a certain recognizable shape, which eventually turns into a fully developed figurative representation.  In her painting, she uses only three colors:  black, white, and red.  In their primitivizing style and effective presence, Koldobskaya’s murals recall cave painting more than anything else.  The artist herself is cautious in linking her work to Primitivism.  As her points of reference, she cites “the rigidity of a designer’s logo, austerity of graphic formulas of Russian Avant-garde, aggression of a totalitarian poster and magic rhythm of tribal ornaments.”  Koldobskaya likes to compare her work to “a shamanic action by conjuring the emotions that are known to everyone – those of lust, fury, thirst and fear.”

In 2013, Koldobskaya created a simple image of a cat holding a bloody mouse in its jaws.  Because of its effective technique and straightforward message, this drawing became popular immediately. It became a symbol of the current political modus operandi in Russia, appearing on stickers, logos, and badges, sometimes with an impromptu slogan: ‘Do Not Be a Mouse.’

Natasha Kurchanova, art historian