Russian born, Milan-based artist Tatiana Brodatch sculpts her fantasies with plasticine.
Each figure differs in its state of undress, its body shape, and its sex position. Somehow, she manages to inject life into a material many haven’t thought about since their childhoods. On paper, a plasticine sculpture of a woman giving a handjob sounds equal parts absurd and obscene, but in actuality, the only thing absurd about Tatiana’s art is how human it makes you feel. How does she do it? According to her, it’s sort of like Italian cuisine. I’ll let her explain.
You work with plasticine, which many would never think to use as a serious art medium. How and why did you begin working with it?
From the academic point of view, plasticine has always been used for sketches, but that’s what I actually do—fast sketches that sometimes become stop motion videos. Sketches that capture the feeling, the state of mind, and the mood. And also I like working fast. After a career in architecture, I really enjoyed the speed of expression that plasticine gives me. It’s a bit like in Italian cuisine—basically you just need a supreme materia prima and some magic in your hands, and you cook it in a very fast and simple manner so it comes to the table fresh and alive.
Your subjects rarely wear clothes. What about the naked body fascinates you?
I think that nudity puts us as we are—there’s no way to hide. The only way is to accept ourselves and be honest. Nudity is honesty. And while honesty makes you vulnerable, it is a great strength at the same time.
Many of your sculptures are posed in various sexual positions. Do you sculpt any of your figures based on life models, photos, or movies, or is it all from the mind?
I see a lot of different visual art, and I watch porn sometimes, but actually the most explicit of my works aren’t based on anything other than myself. These are my fantasies, my desires, and my emotions.
You grew up in Russia. How were you raised in terms of being comfortable with nudity and your own body?
The Soviet system, as with any other totalitarian system, did not regard personality as a value. Any form of diversity would become a reason for criticism, and the level of aggression in society, including sexual aggression, was high. I developed early and since I was 11, through all my teenage years, I remember being terrorised by the sexual harassment and by my mates making fun of me. Luckily, nothing really bad happened to me, but I was in a constant battle with my curves—I used to flatten my breasts for years to look as androgynous as possible. Then I passed through the 90’s and 2000’s with the idea that beauty means skinny, and I was not. So like many women, I became at peace with my body more or less by the age of 35. And I am still on my way—and the plasticine helps.
What do you hope your art adds to the conversation about sexual freedom and body positivity?
I’d like to cite an Italian artist, Carol Rama. In an interview with Maurizio Cattelan, she said, “We all have a tropical disease inside for which we seek a remedy. My remedy is painting. I paint first and foremost to heal myself. Occasionally, if people watching are on my same wavelength they can be healed as well.” I am sculpting to free myself, and if that notion of freedom and self-acceptance translates to those who see my work, I can’t be anything but grateful and happy.