Just for a couple of hours, the cozy CREM (the Club of Foreign Residents in Monaco) is transformed into a recording studio for our WOW project. We are interviewing Daria Usova, the very embodiment of a modern artist living in Monaco. Her piercingly clever eyes reflect both peace and determination. Daria is the first one in the history of our project who had taken time to think over our rather difficult questions in advance. A graduate of the Art and Graphics Faculty, Moscow State Pedagogical University, she made a true splash in the world of contemporary art with her «Pieces Art» technique. An artist dwelling on philosophic topics.
HelloMonaco: How did you find this role in life that you were clearly predestined for?
Daria Usova: I believe that what you are predestined for chooses you. I am actually a fatalist. When I was 5, I made my first fair drawing of a Bambi toy. Almost 30 years later, I went back to it for my Bambi/ Silver Hoof collage. This a particularly special feeling when all the pieces of the puzzle actually come together. Your history goes spiralling upwards if the original impulse and further progress are all made in the right direction!
HM: Daria, you are now a well-known artist. What milestones do you believe to have been important in your work?
DU: Back at the very start of my artistic journey in 2006, my works were accepted at the Guggenheim Museum Foundation, in New York. Later on, when I lived in Geneva, the last prince of Egypt, Fuad, son of Farukh, visited my exhibition. He purchased my ancient Egypt series for his collection. Nowadays, I am an official artist for the Principality of Monaco. When I first arrived in Monaco, I produced the Monte-Carlo landscapes series («Dragonfly Helicopters», «Casino Roofs» reminiscent of Louis Vuitton logos, a view from Monte-Carlo Beach etc.). I then started working on the Princely Family portraits: Princess Grace, Prince Rainier, Princess Caroline, Princess Stéphanie and, of course, Princess Charlene and Prince Albert. When the last of the portraits was finished, I felt like gifting it to the one concerned. I thus had the honour of personally showing and gifting my work to Prince Albert on the occasion of my exhibition at the Grimaldi Forum. The Prince was struck by the number of his family tree photos that I used in creating this amazing collage — the book of life. He then gave me the mission of drawing a portrait of his children!
HM: You also made a portrait of Princess Grace…
DU: Yes, indeed. This Collage («Princess Grace» 2015, 120×90) uses more than 600 photographs depicting the life of this wonderful woman. This is a transformation of a successful Hollywood actress into the beautiful Princess of Monaco; true evidence that miracles do happen and the most daring dreams come true! By the way, this is the main idea behind my art! The image of my heroine, concise and expressive, comes from one of my favourite Alfred Hitchcock movies «The Rear Window». The collage conveys the Hollywood atmosphere: Cary Grant shots, the «Oscar» Award ceremony, a yacht filmed for the movie «High Society». A special place in this work is given to the meeting with Prince Rainier, their famous romantic photo session and their legendary wedding in St. Nicholas Cathedral. This photo series is designed to reflect Grace’s transformation into the new, truly historical figure she became. Not incidentally, one of her last roles in the cinema is that of a princess in the «Swan»! She is indeed a swan transformed into a princess. This collage also portrays the creation of the Grand Big Family and their famous Red Cross Ball and Rose Ball with Frank Sinatra performing in the Monaco Sporting. We are witnessing Monte-Carlo radiating the Hollywood atmosphere on the French Riviera! Grace has shaped an entire era in a way that people are still looking for this sensation of success, happiness and light here in Monaco! This whole story is portrayed in my collage. I produce miracles and magic so that we can live according to our dreams!
HM: Have you ever experienced a life-changing event that transformed your lookout on things?
DU: Creating my unique «Pieces Art» collage technique was a milestone. This is a personal tool that I patented in 2003, giving me a place or a niche, if you like, in the history of contemporary art. My «Dream Collage» is a book of life dwelling on the past, present and the aspired future. This is more than just a painting. This is a story with its trajectory and a composition as unique as that of a retina, a fingerprint or DNA. It makes you remember your dreams, go for them and focus on an inevitable victory!
The Principality of Monaco gave me tremendous energy, strength and inspiration. This is the place where dreams come true, where an actress became a princess! What other proof do you need than that! This is the «Dream Collage» that I replicate in action!
HM: What is success for Daria Usova? What does it take to be successful?
DU: Success is a logical consequence of everything that you love doing, in my case it is art!
Here is my favourite scene from Lewis Carroll’s «Through the Looking Glass». It is an interesting conversation between Alice and the Queen:
– Well, in our country, you’d generally get to somewhere else — if you run very fast for a long time, as we’ve been doing?
– Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast!
Here is what I think. We must do what we love to «move mountains». And that means running twice as fast.
HM: Is material prosperity a must for your self-fulfillment?
DU: It is a common belief that an artist must be poor. This, apparently, is some initial stereotype passed on from generation to generation. But I don’t think so! Look at Jeff Koons or Damien Hirst. Being an artist is a profession like any other — a doctor, a banker or a TV presenter. Prosperity is indeed a prerequisite for your self-fulfillment! This is your feedback from society, this is how relevant your today’s work is. Being in tune with your Time is a must for the new generation artists. Same as in the fashion industry, we all go for the trends!
HM: What is the role of money in your life? How important is it to you?
DU: I fully agree with Andy Warhol who echoed the sentiment that art brings money if you sell it well! Money is a measure of success, your result monetized. It is needed to develop and support my art. Same as fixative sticks holding a sculpture until it is frozen in place!
HM: Are you rich?
DU: For me, money and wealth are two different things. My wealth is in my creative ideas! I am Russian, and therefore draw my ideas from an authentic Russian culture that believes in miracles! I am very proud to be a bearer of this culture and spirituality in the Principality of Monaco. I am currently getting ready for a large exhibition hosted by the «Ekaterina» Cultural Foundation in Moscow with the support of Ekaterina and Vladimir Semenikhin, people who I particularly treasure. I am very grateful to them for this opportunity to share my very important “Fairytales Сome True” perception through questions and answers with the Russian audience. The event will take place over the Christmas and New Year period from December 10 to January 26.
HM: Is it important for an artist to love herself?
DU: You know how much artists love themselves! They believe to be revealing their eye-opening inner reality to the rest of the world! And I am no exception! This happens to be one of the rules of success for any business. I love myself through what I do. I love every one of my works of art!
HM: And if we speculate on love in general, without being personal?
DU: «It is a sum of speculations on the behavior of its object!» Sadly, we are often taught to be indifferent. And if ever there is any liking, this is perceived as Love! By the way, Leo Tolstoy believed that we must be occupied and involved, then everything would work out perfectly!
HM: Do you have a recipe for how to be happy?
DU: I was born happy, I was originally given something that never leaves me, Art! Think of the ancient Egyptian pyramids. Their very existence is a wonder of the world! Or another mysterious type of pyramid, a triangle with an all-seeing eye above. What is that eye? As for me, I do believe in Maslow’s pyramid of needs with self-fulfilment, creativity, self-expression and internal potential at the top. This is happiness to me!
HM: What do you think? How important is it to discuss the topics that we have brought up here?
DU: These are ever important subjects that always remain relevant. This is what distinguishes a man from artificial intelligence. This is what globalization today is trying to bury in oblivion and which should never be allowed!
Daria Usova’s official site: www.dariausova.com