Polina Malina: "I could never imagine I’d ever want to posses something that much"


Polina Malina is a collector, the star of our new interview. She told Artocratia about the way her passion for the contemporary art began, about mystical coincidences in life and about the joy of owning a work of art.

Polina Malina: "I could never imagine I’d ever want to posses something that much"

About me

My company is engaged in the design of commercial interiors: offices, bars, hotels and so on - from the elaboration of the interior concept to the selection of all materials and the creation of working documentation. We also provide general contracting services.

I often offered customers to use not some decorative works in interiors, but art, and in the process of getting acquainted with it, I unexpectedly became a collector myself.

I bought my first artwork about eight years ago. It happened by accident abroad, and then it had to be quietly taken out in the trunk of a car, because it was not all right with her documents. Then I gradually acquired various works and realised that it was contemporary art that interested me. Now I have a small collection, which is periodically updated.

Irina Drozd. A little trouble at lunch. 2020. Paper, mixed media. 30 x 20 cm 

About artworks in interiors

I already have everything hung up in my ordinary house and in my country house. I don’t like patterns or when it’s messy, I only place my work where it’s appropriate. And I want to look at them. When my second child was born, I thought: “Oh! Shouldn't I place graphics in the children's series? " I figured out how to decorate them beautifully, and now the graphics of Daria Konovalova-Infante and Irina Drozd are hung there. Some acquaintances told me: “How did you hang this in the nursery? There are no bears, cats, and so on…" So it seems to me that it turned out very well.

In my country house I have Ivan Plusch’s "Process of passage". This work was on the cover of the exhibition catalog: it’s an important one, it represents the entire series. I bought it a long time after the exhibition ended. By some coincidence it wasn’t sold. I think it was simply waiting for me.

Ivan Plusch. The process of passing. 2012 Oil on canvas. 130 x 120 cm

I saw the painting, fell in love with it and bought it for my country house. Now it's hung on the wall between the two doors, and the wall, like both doors, is entirely blue. As soon as I put it back in place, I sent Vanya a photo. He said: "Wow! Did you choose the color specifically for the painting?". I swear I didn't do it on purpose! When I bought it, the house wasn't just ready yet. It seems that I bought it after I made a decision about the color of the wall, or maybe I bought it first, then left it somewhere in the apartment and forgot, and then I chose the color. And suddenly, accidentally, it turned out that the picture and the wall fit together perfectly. Such a pleasant mystical plot in life!

About the collector's passion

There’re about a hundred works in my collection, or maybe a little less. I'll know for sure when I upload everything to the website. Last year I had a real fever, and in the 4 months from March to June I bought a lot of works. Then everyone was in a kind of a pause, and I had a small amount of work. I was on maternity leave, walking with a stroller, waiting, constantly updating Facebook, frantically pressing buttons when I realised that the artist I had wanted posted the work. Then I found out that I’m a very gambling and art-hungry person.

The first artwork that I’ve bought consciously was a painting by Irina Drozd. I think it happened in 2013. At that time, I didn't even think about any collecting, although I had several small artworks and one large, the one brought from abroad. I was invited to Irina Drozd's solo exhibition, I came, looked at Ira's works and thought: "God, what a beauty! I wish I had one!". And there was not even a thought to take a swing at it: some inner shyness prevented. When you stand in a museum, you are instilled with piety from childhood: do not touch, do not come close. That’s how a person learns to perceive art as something inaccessible. It may be accessible from the point of view of your feelings, but it is completely inaccessible from the point of view of physical possession of the work. Therefore, at that time at the exhibition, I just looked, got into it — and that's it.

Six months or a year later I accidentally saw a photo of a piece of art that hooked me, and suddenly I thought: why don't I at least ask how much it costs to understand what financial s you need to achieve to afford this? I found Ira in social networks, came to her workshop. I managed to buy that very work, and now it's hung in my bedroom.

About the joy of acquiring

When you want to have an artwork and realise that you can have it, first of all you feel the anticipation and excitement of buying. It's nice to imagine how you'll come home, unwrap it, open it, put it on or put it down, and here you have it. It is not always possible to just go and buy: it depends on whether it is sold or not, whether the artist is ready to sell it at all. Sometimes the work has a fairly large circulation — five pieces, ten - and you start to wonder if you’re ready for this.

Daniil Arkhipenko. Observer. 2020. Oil on canvas. d-60 cm

I don't buy works made as an order. Once we talked with Vitaly Pushnitsky, I was in his workshop, and I really liked one work but it was sold for a long time already. I suffered for a year, understood that I really want it, but if I ask her to repeat it, it will no longer be the original source. As a result, I refused to buy. I think that only the first artwork created by the artist carries a powerful charge, and I want to get exactly this energy.

I’m motivated to buy primarily by a personal desire to have something. For me, it was a revelation in myself, I didn't even imagine that I could so passionately desire to acquire something. It’s clear that you want beautiful things, comfortable cars, but it can’t be compared to art. With art, some kind of animal feeling of the joy of possession wakes up inside.

About the people around

My daughter is 13 years old. When she was younger, she went to exhibitions with me, we looked at something and discussed it. She didn't always agree with me, but it was obvious that she was interested. Now she has already reached the stage of nihilism, and she, like probably most teenagers, believes that she knows life better and understands more than parents do. She has become a fan of classical art, and rolls her eyes about contemporary one. Sometimes we talk about it, I suggest she look at it from different points of view. I’m sure that even if she doesn't like everything right now, she gets enough of it, which in the future — maybe in her 20s — will allow her to make a more balanced decision about her preferences in art.

Lelya Borisenko. Quarantined. 2020. Paper, mixed media. 30 x 20 cm  

I believe that the perception of art develops. Elementary at the biological level, it becomes possible to look at many things from different points of view. And the work may not even seem like art to you, you can look and think: "Well, what nonsense is this? What is it?" - the very questions and reflections that you have are valuable, the dialogue that it leads to.

For me, dialogue is infinitely interesting not only with myself, but with friends, people who are passionate about art. Last year I went to Cosmoscow, and other collectors and I have already gone around and stopped at the Ovcharenko Gallery to chat and relax. And at some point I caught myself sitting and looking at our company with eyes that didn't blink in surprise. The men were arguing, proving something to each other, and at the same time they were discussing not women, not money, not business, not cars, but hotly and with great pressure they were arguing about art.

Maybe if I studied art all the time, I would see such men every day. And I'd be sick of them by now. But this doesn't happen very often in my life, unfortunately, and that moment was a landmark for me, I sat and enjoyed it.

I am glad that Artocratia exists. I think this will let us show to more people that art is interesting. Now we’re at a stage where it’s unclear what the next step of its evolution will be. I’d really like to see this next step in my lifetime. In the meantime I will use the website, upload my artworks there, and I will be like Kashchey, just not a greedy one, moreover, to show everyone my "gold".