Tribambuka pictured in her studio. Photo courtesy of the artist
Born in a city that no longer exists, and having wandered to establish new roots, Artwork Archive Featured Artist Tribambuka explores the complexities of identity, home, and belonging.
This exploration has resulted in a captivating body of work that also delves into pressing issues of gender inequality and the spirit of female resilience.
Tribambuka (aka Anastasia Beltyukova) is a London-based multidisciplinary artist, award-winning illustrator, and animation director working predominantly in painting and printmaking.
Her approach, drawing from Russian roots and a contemporary feminist perspective, results in striking compositions, blending elements found in Russian Avant-garde, French Analytical Cubism, Fauvism, and the revolutionary spirit of the swinging sixties.
Having grappled with the loss of home, broken homes, damaged roots, displacement, and the horrors of war, Tribambuka's exploration takes form in contorted, geometrical configurations and bold color palettes.
Beyond their aesthetic appeal, these compositions carve out a space for dialogue and introspection, inviting viewers to reflect on the need for societal change and confront the complexities of the human experience.
Artwork Archive had the chance to chat with Tribambuka about her creative process, the success of her recent show 'Right to Rage', and how Artwork Archive makes her art career more manageable!
You can see more of her work on Discovery and learn more about her art practice below.
Tribambuka, 'Free Today', 100 x 100 x 1 cm, 2022
Do you have a favorite or most satisfying part of your process? If so, can you share a bit about it?
Oh, all of them are in some ways fascinating!
The most mysterious part of the creative process is the conception phase—when the idea comes or I hear a vague call, and the research starts. When I'm researching a theme, I'm reading, talking to people, and collecting my thoughts and initial drawings in a sketchbook. In some ways, this is my favorite part as it is pure.
I experiment with unrestricted playfulness—I write down quotes from books, mess around with collages and doodling, and let the idea brew.
Then comes the planning. If it’s a big project and it involves other people, it requires a lot of admin work and management skills to build the timeline, think through all the parts of the process, plan, and find the budget. That part feels the closest to work.
After that comes the deep dive into the creative process, which could be equally thrilling and torturous—the joy of the creative mess, textures and colors, shapes and lines, and the smell of paints... but also the frustration of things not looking the way you want them to, your skills not matching your ambitions, and sddeadlines catching up with you!
Finally, there's showing your work to people, which is both terrifying and exciting.
However, I suppose the conception is probably my favorite part as there is less pressure, and it is pure play.
How has your exploration of the concept of "home" evolved in the last few years? Was this concept impacted by the pandemic?
I actually started working with this theme before the pandemic—it’s more connected to me being an immigrant and looking for belonging rather than being locked up.
The pandemic added another (darker) layer to my understanding of it and revealed its shadow side—that home, apart from being a safe haven, can become a confinement, even a prison, not safe at all for some people.
However, for me, it went really well. With a lot of distractions in London, it was a rare opportunity to dedicate myself to work and research without FOMO and social commitments. I like being alone in my studio
Now, I’m continuing to work with the theme of 'Home.' My next solo show with the Migration Museum in London is called 'Nowhere to Go But Everywhere' and will explore the strange feeling that arises as an immigrant—that you somehow become a stranger everywhere: in the place you’ve left and in the place where you’re trying to grow new roots. It will delve into all aspects of this experience—what it feels like to be at home, to outgrow home, to leave home, to lose home, to look for home, to find home, and everything in between.
Your work sometimes explores gender inequality and female resilience. Can you speak more about this?
There are a lot of things in the world that make me angry as a woman right now.
My last show, 'Right to Rage,' embraced women’s anger as a cathartic and emancipatory force. Female anger, in particular, is traditionally embedded in patriarchal social narratives as a destructive and dangerous power that needs to be pacified and sublimated. I wanted to make the viewer reconsider women’s rage as a sign of the violation of boundaries, a reaction to injustice and threat, as well as a response to things gone awry in the world—a 'dark' power to be unleashed and reckoned with.
I went really deep on it—I read a bunch of books on female rage and made a playlist to keep me boiling too—it’s all on my website.
I also asked all the visitors of the show what they were angry about, collected 375 answers, and released a book—a perfect snapshot of what’s wrong in the world as seen from London in 2022. What I saw was a lot of love behind that anger; people want to change things for the world to become a better place
I guess I was trying to create a space for women to talk about this almost taboo theme, explore the roots of these taboos, and address some of the issues that make us angry—ultimately, to start conversations (and I had a lot of those, indeed!).
An excerpt of Tribambuka's book, What Are You Angry About?
What impact do you hope your work will have on those who view it?
I always thought that art should exist in the spaces above the mundane, that it shouldn’t be about social issues, and that it should be timeless.
However, last year, I realized that it’s not possible for an artist not to respond to the events around them. We’re a part of the ecosystem and are influenced by it as much as we influence it.
I realized that I do want to have an impact indeed—but I don't want to preach or offer solutions. I’ve noticed that the best way for me to work is to ask people questions and bounce off them. Having a conversation is a good start.
The best thing would be to make people feel something. Although I’m tempted by escapist art too, like Matisse painting beautiful women and flowers during the most horrific times, I think, at this point, I’m leaning towards making art that disturbs a bit rather than soothes.
Ideally, it should do both!! I hope my art will touch people’s hearts.
What does success as an artist mean to you?
Oh, that’s simple.
Success is being able to work as a full-time artist in a well-lit studio in a place that inspires you.
It involves doing the work you want to do without thinking of money. Your artwork should be valued, needed by people, and make a real impact. That's it in a nutshell!
Could you provide some insights into your creative workspace?
My studio is extremely important to me; I build my life around my workplace. It’s more important than where I live as I spend more time here! Joseph Campbell called it “Bliss Station”:
“You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first, you might find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it—something eventually will happen.”
Currently, my studio is in Hackney Wick, in London, within a building full of other artists. This is very important for me at this stage—to feel other creative processes bubbling behind the walls.
Although this whole area used to be full of creatives, it’s rapidly changing because of gentrification. We’re still here, and I love it here, although it’s getting unbearably expensive. Someday, I dream of a studio in a fairly remote place with a sea view—fewer distractions and more space! But for now, I’m where I need to be.
Why did you decide to use Artwork Archive to inventory/manage your artwork?
I tried different systems—folders on my computer, Trello boards, and whatnot—and realized I needed a more structured cloud-based system that I could access from anywhere.
I compared different offers and Artwork Archive had the best reviews and seemed more reliable.
It ticks all the boxes for me.
Tribambuka, Eurynome, 120 x 100 x 3.5 cm, 2022
How do you use Artwork Archive on a daily basis?
Artwork Archive keeps all the information about my artworks and series of works with high-res images. Whenever I or my assistant need to apply to open calls or update my website, Instagram, or another platform, we always use the information from my Artwork Archive account.
It's like the golden standard for the information I use everywhere else.
I use it to manage the open calls I’m applying for and exhibitions I’m taking part in. I can keep track of submission dates, delivery dates, contacts and addresses, and the works featured.
I also often use it to generate PDF reports, sending applications to different places every other week; it’s a super handy feature.
And although I have my own artist website with a more curated selection, I use Artwork Archive to show all available works in one place to potential collectors.
What advice would you give an artist who’s just starting out in their professional career?
Oh dear, think twice! 😄
It’s not an easy path, depending, of course, on the country you live in, the cost of living, competition, and the level of government support for arts and culture.
Basically, if you can do something else, and you won’t suffer without it, maybe do something else. Your life will be easier. Only do it if you absolutely can’t stay away.
But, if you hear the call, it definitely has to be answered; or you will regret it all your life. "Follow your bliss!" (Joseph Campbell again).
Tribambuka, 'Circe', 100 x 100 x 1 cm, 2022
Tribambuka uses Artwork Archive to keep track of her open call submissions, manage her exhibitions, showcase her work to clients, and more.
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