Exclusive Interview with Natalia Rezvova, aka Duduki Dolls
Imagine you were given just one minute to introduce yourself and your art to a total stranger. How would you describe yourself?
Hello, I'm Natalia Rezvova, an artist behind “Duduki”, where I blend the light and dark, the cute and creepy, to create unique and captivating works. I am creating whimsical and imaginative art dolls and creatures that are inspired by the mystical and the unknown, where the boundaries between reality and supernatural blur. My pieces are a celebration of the strange and unusual, bringing together the eerie and the adorable in a harmonious yet haunting fashion.
Could you please explain the meaning behind the name ‘Duduki’?
Duduki is actually just a made-up name that I chose for my art works. It doesn't have a specific meaning, but I thought it sounded catchy and unique, and I hope it will help people remember me as an artist. Even though it's not a real word and doesn't mean anything specific I think it still captures the essence of my works and my personal style.
How do you classify your work: do you consider them sculptures, art dolls or something completely unique?
I see my works as a combination of sculpture, toy making and art doll techniques, blended with my own vision and style. They are a fusion of different mediums and techniques, and I think that they do not fit neatly into any pre-existing category. I call them “creations” that exist in their own unique realm.
You originally lived in Russia and moved to California. How do you think these two different cultures shaped your work?
Yes I was born in Russia, moved to California in 2005 and also lived in France for 5 years.
While I don't think that my works are shaped by specific cultural influences, I do believe that living in Russia, France and California has provided me with a lot of unique experiences and perspectives that have informed my art. Moving from one country to another has allowed me to see things from different angles and to draw inspiration from a wide range of sources. I believe that the more experiences you have and the more you expose yourself to different cultures and ways of thinking, the richer your art can become.
What inspired your aesthetic, and what is it about the dark and surreal appeals to you?
My aesthetic comes from an interest in the combination of opposites - darkness and cuteness - and the challenge of finding a balance between them. The appeal of the dark and surreal aesthetic comes from the way it can evoke a sense of mystery, intrigue, and even beauty in unexpected places.
Was art always something you wanted to do or pursue?
Interestingly, I never initially thought of creating art or pursuing a career as an artist. My academic background and early career were in a different field altogether. However, I always had a love for creating things with my hands and exploring my own creative ideas. Over time, this passion grew stronger, and I began to explore different artistic techniques and styles on my own. Although I don't have formal education in the arts, I've continued to learn and grow as a self-taught artist. I believe that this non-traditional path gave me the freedom to experiment and develop my own unique style, which I hope is reflected in my works.
Can you tell us about your process for designing and creating a new piece, and what materials do you typically use?
My creative process involves experimenting with various materials. Air dry clay is a primary medium for sculpting, while different fabrics, wool, wood, shells, beads are often used as well. I typically start with a rough sketch or concept and then begin to flesh it out using the chosen materials, sometimes I change my mind and may change materials even if I already started. I enjoy the freedom of exploring different textures, colors, and shapes until I arrive at the finished product. I think there is a sense of discovery in this process, as each piece takes on a life of its own, influenced by the materials and the environment around it.
You mentioned working with different fabrics, wool, wood, shells and beads. Do you purposely seek these out or are they found or donated materials?
I do seek out fabrics and beads that I find interesting and that inspire me, but I also love to incorporate materials that I come across in my everyday life. For example, a while back I collected some shells on the beach, and later on I came up with an idea to use them in my pieces. So, yes, I do keep my eyes open for unexpected sources of inspiration. I find that working with a variety of materials allows me to be more creative and to experiment with different techniques and textures.
How do you find inspiration for your pieces, and how do you ensure that each piece is unique and tells its own story?
I draw my inspiration from a variety of sources. My creations are a reflection of my love for art films, gothic art, and even folklore, I strive to incorporate these influences into my work in unique and captivating ways.
My influences also come from a wide range of renowned artists such as Bosch, Goya, Schiele, Bruegel, Vrubel, Bilibin, Klimt, and many others. I draw inspiration from their distinct and unconventional visions, which I believe, have left a lasting impression on what I create. What makes my art works truly unique is the fact that I never use molds to create them. Each piece is crafted by hand, with no two pieces ever looking exactly the same. Even if I repeat a design, I always find ways to make it different, adding new details, experimenting with materials and colors, and exploring new themes and emotions.
I think that creating works by hand ensures that each one is imbued with its own personality and sense of individuality.
Can you talk about any particular pieces that holds a special place in your heart, and what makes them so significant to you?
As an artist, each and every piece that I create holds a special place in my heart, as they each represent a unique moment of creative expression and a part of my journey as an artist. However, there are a few particular pieces that hold an even deeper significance for me.
There are pieces that I have created over the years that have been gifted to loved ones, including the one my daughter took with her leaving to college this year. These pieces hold a special place in my heart because they represent a connection to the people I care about and a way to share my passion for art with them.
I have a soft spot for pet rats so I really love all the rats I created.
Overall, each piece that I create holds a unique and significant place in my heart, representing a moment in time, an emotional journey, or a connection to the people I love.
It’s said the eye is the window to the soul, yet your pieces seldom have eyes or at least eyes as we recognise them. Despite this, the works always have a very “soulful” look. How do you achieve this?
Although my pieces typically do not have recognizable eyes, I strive to imbue them with a sense of soulfulness and emotion through other means. I often use expressive forms, postures, textures and colors to convey a sense of mood or feeling, which can create an emotional connection between the viewer and the piece. Additionally, I think that the absence of traditional facial features such as eyes or a mouth can sometimes allow for a more universal and timeless appeal. Ultimately, I hope that my pieces can communicate a sense of inner vitality and evoke a response in the viewer that goes beyond mere visual recognition.
Is there a particular idea or vision lurking in your head yet to make it to reality? And if so, what would you need to make this vision come to life?
As an artist, I am constantly inspired by the world around me and I often have ideas for new pieces floating around in my head. While some of these ideas may be more fully formed than others, I always relish the challenge of bringing them to life. However, I also understand that the process of creating art can be unpredictable and that pieces can evolve and change as I work on them. For me, the key to making my visions a reality is a willingness to experiment, take risks, and be open to new possibilities. Whether it's finding new materials, exploring different techniques, or simply allowing myself the freedom to let a piece take on a life of its own, I think that the creative process is one that requires both planning and spontaneity in equal measure.