Nadia Ryzhakova


Mind the iPad: Story of a Russian iPainter

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 30, 2014 - 8:06PM ANASTASIA DENISOVA It all started two years ago, when Nadja Ryzhakova visited an exhibition of the works of celebrated English painter David Hockney and found out the 76-year old artist had surprisingly embraced modern technology, inspired to create his now critically acclaimed instant iPad art.

"He was one of the first artists who could afford to buy an iPad,” Nadja jokes. "I really admired what Hockney did because he showed that iPad is not merely a computer, but a canvas.”

Nadja started experimenting with iPainting (a word she would get official permission to use from Apple) and has been using iPads as her primary sketch pad ever since. Using apps like Brushes and ProCreate, Nadja produces beautiful pieces inspired by poetry and life in London. 

"Being an artist in London is not easy – very few of us can afford their own studio. Most people rent tiny rooms for living and the iPad becomes a genial solution, given the space constraints. Not to mention that it is always with you, whenever inspiration strikes” 

iPads allow Nadja, a graduate in Monumental Decorative Art production from the prestigious Stroganov Moscow State Arts and Crafts University, to be even more creative than when using a classic canvas. 

"To me an iPad is more of a wall than a canvas – a wall has no limits, while a canvas is constrained by its borders. An iPad allows you to build up the size of a digital canvas, zooming in and perfecting the tiniest bits of my paintings. At any given point I can return to the bigger picture and see the result in full.” 

Nadja’s most successful work up to date is her hip take on the London underground, which she created as part of a competition organised by the Londonist website to mark the 150th anniversary of the Tube. Her Mind the Carp piece – which reimagined the underground as an underwater world – was published on the Evening Standard and TimeOut and mentioned by various other websites. 

Since then, Nadja has been under the spotlight. The V&A has asked her to run iPanting workshops, while composers and poets interested in artistic collaborations vie for her attention. 

Meanwhile, she continues to explore the possibilities of her favourite medium. She is currently working on a series of mini-films focused on the artistic process behind the creation of a painting, all realised with her iPad. 

Each film allows the viewer to see how Nadja creates, erases and recreates, turning iPainting into a convergent multimedia art format at the very edge of technology-enabled artistic expression. 

Having lived in London for four years, Nadja feels a part of London art scene, but remains strongly in touch with her Russian self. In the past she has painted commemorative postcards for Russian veterans of the Great Patriotic War, and is preparing to create posters for the upcoming 9 May anniversary of the war. 

"I am not jealous to see other people try themselves in iPainting – on the contrary, I would be glad and am encouraging more artists to use the iPad as a new medium for their self-expression,” Nadja says. 

"Together we can fight scepticism and develop this form of art.”