Katya Granova


Born in 1988 in what was then still the Soviet Union, Katya was to initially train in Social Psychology at the St Petersburg State University. In a change of direction Katya moved to France to study at the Paris College of Art from 2014-15, thence 2015-17 at the ICA Moscow, studying “New methods in contemporary art” and from 2017 in London, where she plans on staying having just completed her MA in painting at the Royal College of Art.

Already with numerous successful exhibitions in St Petersburg, Belgrade, Paris, London and Moscow, amongst others, Katya has also secured numerous artist residencies, most recently in Normandy and Moscow.

We first came across Katya’s work as an entrant to the inaugural Castlegate Prize in 2020. Ultimately reaching the final shortlist and one of the works which was in the running to take first place, we were struck by the sheer energy and visceral nature of how she handled paint and subject, colour and texture; a very large painting, "Paediatric Surgery" draws you in, immerses you in its complexities and has the key quality of something you would never grow tired of owning; so much so we acquired it for ourselves.

To explain Katya’s approach and inspiration, we can think of no better way than you turn to her own words:
“My practice deals a lot with the concepts of history, memory and the past. Being born in the Soviet Union, I grew up surrounded by the massive diversity of people’s perspectives on their Soviet past, leading to a complete impossibility to have any coherent picture of what was actually going on in everyday life. I also witnessed the changes in history - in my lifetime I have seen ideological replacements of perspectives over past events at least three times - Soviet, post-collapse and contemporary Russia. I ended up feeling that if history is so biased and subjective, I need to make my own one, and if I cannot travel into the past and check it myself, then I will put my presence in it by the fictionalization of history. As a child, I had a practice of drawing over pictures in magazines, photographs and whatever material with pictures of people. Not necessarily mocking them, I liked to paint over it, adding something new. This practice of painting over pictures combined with the reflections on history as an ideological tool brought me to my current practice. I take imagery, documenting the past, project it on canvas in order to completely change and fictionalize it. I mostly take images from the distant past before my birth with the events I cannot possibly have personal experience of. Quite often I use family archive photographs. Painting thus becomes a space for an intrusion into the body of someone's past, which I do with my body as a painter. This brings me to a bigger scale, where painting becomes a physical insertion of my body into the documented past I'm dealing with.”




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Katya Granova
Katya Granova