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Interview: Valeria Ganzman's Self Portrait

Interview: Valeria Ganzman's Self Portrait

Lives and works in Haifa, Israel

Tell us about yourself, how did you become an artist?

I have been painting ever since I could remember. I always knew I wanted to be an artist. There is nothing else I can imagine myself doing.

My grandparents were also artists, they were theater actors. They used to take me to plays all the time when I was a kid. In addition, my mother used to paint when she was younger. I guess all of this inspired me to be creative and become an artist.

Self portrait with plants

What is your background? and how did it inform the focus of your creative exploration or the medium you're currently working with?

I went to an art school and got my arts degree in photography. Despite 4 years of practicing photography I always was drawn to painting and after finishing my degree I went back to it 100%. I feel that I wouldn't have the confidence to explore the nude body like I do now without first doing it through photography.

Inspiring flowers in the studio

What ideas interested you in the beginning of your practice, which ideas have you continued to explore, and where have they led you?

I used to explore the female body using photography. During my degree, I photographed myself and my grandmother. I wanted to show the body in it's true form - bare and vulnerable. Shortly after graduation I was diagnosed with breast cancer. After my recovery, I continued to explore the female body through painting. Today I want to show the body in it's true form, even if it's sick or broken. I'm exploring what femininity means to me after what I went through.

Self portrait with Nerium

Who were and are the biggest sources of your inspiration?

My grandmother. She was always a free spirit. She was an artist herself, a dancer and a theater actress. She's my biggest inspiration to this day. She was very free with her body and agreed to be photographed without any hesitation. I don't think I will be what I'm or where I'm today without her support.

Studio view

Where do you find inspiration?

My studio and my home. I enjoy filling them with things that inspire me - like artworks, flowers and other plants, and different little objects that I find beautiful. But also other artists both contemporary and not, like Egon Schile, Van Gogh and Diane Arbus to name a few.

Plates of paint in the studio

Is there are a single work, project, or series that is pivotal in your current trajectory?

My "Scars" series. I feel that this is the most abstract I ever was, it's new to me. I know it's miles away from actually being abstract. But I do like to focus on the color and the shape more than realism and accuracy. I like where it's taking me. I don't think I will ever go full abstract though.

Three scars

How did it begin? and how did it evolve?

As with almost all my other work I wanted to continue my body exploration, but also I really wanted to have more texture to this project. So I took my oil paints which I rarely use and decided to see where it might take me.

Studio view (work in progress)

What are you working on now?

I keep working on my "Scars" series, which I will extend to include people who are close to me. I feel that this project is far from being finished and I'm very eager to see where this journey might take me.

In addition, I'm continuing my series "Self Portraits with Plants" which focuses on femininity, sexuality and self exploration.

Studio view (a new sketch)

If you could go back in time to the very beginning of your art practice and give your younger self a single piece of advice what would it be?

Don't compare yourself to others.

A scar from my cat

Work in progress 

About the Artist

Based in Haifa, Israel

Valeria Ganzman is an artist who currently lives and works in Haifa, Israel.

She was born in 1990 ‬in Babruysk, Belarus. In 1996 she immigrated to Israel with her family and lived there ever since.
Valeria studied at the WIZO Haifa Academy of Design and Education in the photography and new media department.
In her work she focuses mainly on figurative painting and botanical illustration.

Valeria deals with the female body from various perspectives; the wear & tear and its sickness as well as sexuality, mortality and self-exploration.

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