Karatayeva (whose real family name is Burtseva) creates paintings and drawings and works with batik printing and felt, but she is most famous for her silk “paintings” made with a soldering iron. Examples of all types of her work are in the current exhibit.
Few artists in the world paint with soldering irons, and Karatayeva is the only artist in Kazakhstan working this way. She compares the technique to pointillism, a technique of creating images with separate strokes of dots or small lines, but using a soldering iron instead of a brush.
Making a picture this way takes several weeks and sometimes more than a month of work in a respirator, with teary eyes from the acrid smoke. The end result is a seemingly weightless, breathable painting with astonishing textures and colours from the melted silk. Karatayeva is a master of nuances of colour, a quality manifested in all her works. Her subjects are also diverse: decorative still-life paintings, abstract compositions, realistic landscapes and romantic fantasies with Kazakh national motifs and styles, like the pieces “Signs of Ancestors,” and “Petroglyphs.”
The artist uses pieces of silk, satin, brocade, nylon and organza as her canvases. In the 1970s-80s, she said, dresses, scarves and belts had bright colours, while today there are no such colours. Her use of vintage fabrics is one of the secrets to the colours she pulls out of her unique paintings.
Karatayeva lives in Lisakovsk, in the Kostanai region. Her creative career began in 1993 and her works are displayed in national exhibitions and can be found in museums and private collections in Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, the United States, Germany, the Czech Republic and Holland.
Karatayeva’s cheerful, optimistic attitude pervades her work, which is sunny and colourful. Even the titles of her pieces are happy: “Swings,” “Angel of Dreams” and “Touch of Tenderness.”
The artist’s new hobby is felt. A handmade woollen plastic cloth is rich in colour and the exhibition presents the felt panel-pictures “Seasons of the Year” and decorative works “The Sun of Ancient People” and “Astana – The City of Dreams Come True.”
There are also works by her students at the exhibition. For more than 20 years, Karatayeva has been working at the art school for children in Lisakovsk.
“Svetlana Karatayeva is a wonderful woman, a devotee, and her students also love her devotedly,” said Gulnara Cullman-Kultassova, graduate of the art school and now a professional artist. “She talks about her work easily, with a smile, but in fact painting on silk in such a manner is hard work. Viewers see the result, and it is beautiful. We admire her works, they inspire us, because they convey the joy of life and the warmth of her heart.”