My Sweden is a project that was created during my two-year Master program at the Academy
of Fine Arts in the city of Umeå. I have already completed two formal programmes before moving
to Sweden: the Kiev College of Industrial Art and the Publishing Institute at the National Technical
University of Ukraine which raised me as a great painter, a professional, and a technical master
of drawing and painting. In the Umeå Academy, I faced several challenges. First of all there was
a misunderstanding of criteria that separate good works of art from bad. Another obstacle was a
lack of understanding of the cultural code.
The idea to create watercolour portraits appeared instinctually as an attempt to survive in a new
art society by applying the painting process as communication. I sought to get the attention of
Swedes by getting them into the studio to pose. Nobody I asked rejected my proposals.
For one painting, I, the painter, and my posing subject who was also an artist were both in a
spacious studio. We could communicate, although sometimes with difficulty because of my
hitherto broken English.
There was no particular aim nor time to experiment with the style of painting, so I used a classic
method to make a skilful portrait with watercolour. The scale of the paintings was life-size in order
to depict the significance of the person who agreed to take part in my project. I was
uncomfortable taking my subject’s time and thereby worked as fast as I could.
One of the elements of the process was to look into each other's eyes throughout the session
which lasted for a minimum of 3-4 hours, which created a very intimate atmosphere. Remember
that social etiquette generally avoids extended eye contact. By painting at speed, I stared almost
continuously at the model: reading off proportions, trying to determine the specific features of
the person whom I didn’t know well.
The My Sweden project is not about painting: it is about performance. The painting was merely
to initiate communication. The medium that I used to broadcast the message, was our attention.
A description I had of the project at the time of its completion was quite different from what
you are reading now. I needed time to ponder the real reason why this project was begun and
whom it was addressing.
My Sweden was unexpectedly an involuntary-project which for me started a new study of
processes of painting as a form of communication. The next project was The Painting Orchestra,
in which I stop painting, and the audience starts: http://www.goryushina.com/page/painting-o/