We visited our dear friend French artist and dreamer Nina Koltchitskaia in Hôtel Arvor where she is decorating the walls in each room with her dreamy drawings. The interview took place on her bed with paint, croissants, books, and personal notes all over as she was in the middle of decorating the wall above the bed when we arrived.
To sense a room
“I usually stay in the room for two days before I start to paint. I sleep here, I see how the light works, I sense the atmosphere. The energy in each room is quite different so I need to feel it first. When I sleep here, it is almost like my dreams go straight into the wall above me.”
So, what is your impression of this room?
“The light is rather cold at this time a year, and the room is quite simple, so I painted with blue colours. Perhaps also because I am feeling a bit blue these days. But it is cool – I think it is good to be blue. Sometimes it is also sunny and when the light comes in it goes directly on the bird so that the bird is illuminated.”
Nina in Campa Jumper & Willow Wide Jeans
“What do they do, these circles of blue, why do they seem to picture a dream, night and day.”
Nina in Ria Tie Blouse & Allison Straight Jeans
Birds seems to be a recurring element in your drawings – why?
When I was a child, my parents used to call me dragonfly because I had big eyes and Birdie because I was always climbing up the trees, and they said that I looked like a little bird. While growing up, I was always dreaming so I felt like I was always a bit "up" in the sky. To me birds are the freest beings. They can go anywhere they want, whenever. I like that idea. I have a great passion for birds and other flying beings. They are so elegant, graceful, and free, and they help me dream.
“I have a great passion for birds and other flying beings. They are so elegant, graceful, and free, and they help me dream.”
Flowers, the sun, the sea – and landscapes as the overall scenario also seem to be recurring elements. Why?
“Landscapes are like an obsession to me and the paintings I do on landscapes these days are reversible. The sea can be the sky, and the sky can be the sea. I like to think that you can look at life in different ways – depending on the angle. Do you know the French film maker Éric Rohmer? He is one of my favorites. He made this very poetic and romantic film Le Rayon Vert or The Green Ray. In the film there is a scene where the sun goes down on the sea and a second where you don’t see the sun anymore but only a green ray that flashes. I like the thought of this one moment where there is a perfect connection between the sky and the sea.”
And the flowers, the sun, and the mountains?
“I need to paint nature to feel it. And I always need to feel that I am part of it. I need flowers for
their graceful shapes and irresistible colours. I need the sun and the moon because to me they are symbols of the most beautiful love story. I need mountains because they represent infinity and freedom.”
There is a lot of magic in your drawings – and a lot of hidden dreams. Where does it come from?
“Well. I have a big imagination. And I think there is a lot of beauty in the detail. I can spend hours looking at a certain detail that may not appear interesting to others. It is crazy. But I see beauty in everything, everywhere.
Also, my drawings are closely connected to my dreams. When I sleep, I dream the craziest dreams. These dreams are very precise, and I often need to put them down on paper. So, this is why you see flying fishes and people that I don´t know in my drawings.
In general, I don´t sleep a lot. I can walk around for hours at night – and I like to see the sunrise. It is very important to me. Each time I see the sunrise I feel reborn, and I get the sense of being part of something magical. I also like the moment right before sunrise. I feel like nature is holding its breath. Everything is still asleep; yet birds start to sing their dreams out loud, and the air is calm and confident.”
Nina in Silene T-Neck & Jude Skirt
There is a special woman that reached you in your dreams – will you share this story?
“Three years ago, my very good friend David Mechali and I had a scooter accident. To gain back my strength I came here to Hôtel Arvor. It was closed because of Covid, and since my friend is the owner, I lived here for six months. After the accident something happened in my head. I could not sleep and once I did, I started having these crazy dreams with a women’s face. She was very calm and proud, and she was in my head for weeks and reached me over and over in my dreams. It was very strange, and I had to put her down on paper. I still don’t know who she is. She could be someone from the past or even someone from the future, depending on the way you look at it.
David who is a jazz musician visited me every day with his guitar. He saw my paintings of this strange woman and we thought it would be cool to make a song for each dream, each painting. Once we were ready to launch the record, we emptied the hotel and had an exhibition in the rooms. One painting for each room, one song for each painting.”
Nina in Macy Coat, Painter Pants & Dello T-Neck
How has the accident affected you?
“I was very close to dying in this accident. And I think it was the best thing that could have happened to me. Life is very precious, and everything goes so fast. And even though I have always been good at focusing on the details, it made me do so even more. I think that if you take the time to look at the details your life will be richer in many ways.”
“To me drawing is also a way to travel, a way to dream and escape.”
Nina in Josie Coat
We also want to hear about your background – when did you start to paint?
“I have been painting since I was a very small kid. I was obsessed with drawing and painted trees and birds all over. My mother used to work in a cinema but painted a lot and my dad was a painter, my sister is a painter too, and my grandparents were actors and worked in a theatre. So, painting and expressing myself through art has always been my natural language. There is so much inside me that I need to take out. In paintings, in words, in photos, and currently also through sculpting and glass.”
"As a kid I took a lot of pictures. My granddad travelled a lot and came back with the most beautiful pictures, and it made me dream. It is his old camera over there. I still use it. I moved a lot when I was a child, so from an early age I was afraid of time passing and afraid of forgetting things. Perhaps I paint to stretch time. To me drawing is also a way to travel, a way to dream and escape.”
Nina age 17
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