Dina Brodsky is an artist that does very big things in small formats. She has a deep relationship with nature and proves this with amazing depictions of the natural world that grab and hold your attention for a sustained amount of time. Her “Secret Life of Trees” series which can be seen below is a journey into a world that almost makes trees human – Dina is able to grasp and portray the essence of trees in ways that truly touch the soul. It is a form of peaceful activism that causes one to take a step back and realize the natural treasures that live among us.
“My art is a good deal of what defines my identity – it has been what I’ve spent an enormous part of …”
Please tell us a little about yourself – your childhood, siblings, where you grew up, what you liked as a child, strange thoughts as a child/now, unique attributes, where you live now, etc.?
I was born in Minsk, Belarus, in what was then still the Soviet Union. I have one sister, Maya Brodsky, who is a fantastic artist (we are currently working on a show together, “The Brodsky Sisters” at Bernarducci Meisel Gallery in NYC opening September 8th). In retrospect, I still possess a lot of the qualities I had as a child – a compulsive attention to tiny detail, a tendency to document my surroundings – back then I used to make encyclopedic lists of everything. As an adult, I grew into these qualities – the lists have turned into sketchbooks that document the world around me, the attention to detail found an outlet in miniature paintings.
My family immigrated to the US in 1990, and have remained here ever since. I currently live and work in New York city.
How do you describe your form of art and what tools do you primarily use?
I am a contemporary realist. I have had a classical art education at the New York Academy of Art, and have since been using traditional techniques of oil painting, drawing, etc. to depict the world around me. I have been primarily an oil painter throughout my life, until last year when I have been exploring the possibilities offered by the ballpoint pen.
What does your art mean to you?
My art is a good deal of what defines my identity – it has been what I’ve spent an enormous part of my life doing – studying, practicing, teaching, and is something that remains a constant no matter what else is happening. It is so tied up with who I am that I don’t think I’ve ever thought about what it meant other than as something inextricably tied up with my identity.
Your images have a heavy nature component to them and your miniature work is just intoxicating, how did you create this unique style and why are you pulled to create images of this manner?
I’ve always used my vacations to take long-distance cycling trips through Europe, where for a month at a time I would do nothing other than cycle, eat, draw in my sketchbook, sleep in the forest and talk to strangers. The sketchbooks I would keep during those trips would serve as inspiration for the rest of the year, and, since I would be so heavily immersed in nature during those trips, it transferred organically into my work throughout the year. As for miniatures – I’ve always been drawn to tiny art, also, since I live in New York where space is so limited, painting small was also a practical choice.
What is the worst critique you have ever received about your work? What is the best compliment that you have received about your work?
As for the worst critique- a professor in graduate school whom I respected enormously once told me that I have no sense of form, color, structure, anatomy, and she isn’t sure whether I will ever create anything worthwhile. The best compliment was from the same professor about a year later, when she saw my thesis project and admitted that she was wrong.
What is your view/opinion on art world in general these days?
I think the art world is a bizarre, Alice Through the Looking Glass – type place, where nothing obeys any sort of logic that would make sense to the outside world. That being said – I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have found a microcosm of the art world that I’m happy in, to work with artists and galleries that I trust, and to be able to make a living doing the kind of art I love.
Which artists do you look up to the most?
Of the old masters – the usual ones – the Van Eyck brothers, Johannes Vermeer, Luis Melendez. Of contemporary artists – I am lucky enough to be friends with a lot of the artists I look up to – my sister, Maya Brodsky, Diana Corvelle, Michelle Doll, Brian Drury, Yunsung Jang, Amber Lia-Kloppel, Christian Fagerlund.
What is the most beautiful place you’ve ever been?
I once climbed a small mountain in the vicinity of Interlaken, Switzerland in the wee hours of dawn. I reached the top just as the sun was rising, and there were wild strawberries all down the mountain slope. Maybe there. It’s hard to choose just one.
Since Style.No.Chaser is a men’s lifestyle magazine, what attributes/items/clothing /etc. do you think define a man?
Honestly, I never thought of items/clothing/etc. being the attributes that define a man. The qualities that are important to me personally are curiosity and courage, not only in a crisis situation, but in the face the minor irritations and grievances of everyday life. One of the attribute I find most attractive in a man is the ability to find humor, meaning and pleasure in the quotidian.
What is your personal life philosophy?
To do the best I can, and try to be a good person, whatever that involves at the time. To do what is required of me, with as much grace as possible.
What is your favorite color and why?
Bright blue. It’s an easy color to be.
What is your favorite holiday and why?
Definitely Thanksgiving. My father, my sister and I used to have this tradition of going to the shooting range for target practice on Thanksgiving morning, as a father-daughter bonding activity. Then we would have a giant Russian-style Thanksgiving, turkey, vodka shots and all – it’s absolutely wonderful.
Who dead or alive, celebrity or not, artist or not, would you like to go on a two-week road trip with and why?
Leonard Cohen – I’ve had an enormous crush on him ever since hearing “New Skin for the Old Ceremony” for the first time when I was 18.
What type of music do you listen to (if at all) when working?
Either lyrics-oriented Russian music from the 70ies that I grew up with (Vladimir Vysotsky, Bulat Okudzhava), or Irish punk music -the Pogues, Flogging Molly, the Young Dubliners.
How can people learn more about (or buy) your current and upcoming works?
The easiest way is Instagram – @dinabrodsky
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