“Tabula Rasa” – 2nd prize, 2013

Web_Anastasia Kuznetsova-Ruf_2 pris_Tabula Rasa

Anastasia Kuznetsova-Ruf (*1983)
Tabula Rasa
Charcoal and parget on hardboard
Collection of the artist


The jury awards the 2nd prize to the Russian artist Anastasia Kuznetsova-Ruf with the following citation:

The portrait submitted by the young Russian artist Anastasia Kuznetsova-Ruf is named Tabula rasa ‘blank slate’. The title hints at the idea of the painting or at least makes us think of possible motivations and ideas behind it. The set expression, tabula rasa, refers to the beginning. This can be a beginning of a project, a new life, an inception, or love. On the white orgalite (MDF) surface we see a clear space, mainly occupied by a table, a rectangle that is of a slightly different colour to the rest of the setting. On the white cloth covering the table there are scattered beads: round and square, long and star-shaped, small and large, white and almost black, matte-grey and chatoyant pearl. To the right, at the edge of the table, we see a little girl. Her head is almost lying on the table. It seems the whole weight of the little body of the child is in the arms stretched along the table. These arms need support to string the beads, and at the same time keep from dropping the thread which already has some beads on it. The face of the girl expresses a high degree of concentration; the girl is deeply engaged in complicated and delicate work. The hands on the other side of the table are highly meaningful. These hands belong to a woman who remains beyond the scope of the picture. She is holding several beads in her left, open palm, which she extends towards the little girl. Her right-hand fingers are placed against the table, as if the woman is restraining herself from imposing her choice on the girl. This dialogue of the hands is symbolic, as is the picture as a whole. The little girl, starting her life, is facing the world of infinite light. She is the one who chooses the way. Even a loving heart and loving hands can only suggest the direction. Choice helps us to apprehend the world, to absorb reality. It teaches us and forms our life.
The composition of the picture is based on the rectangular shape of the table. The table is shown from above, tapering towards the back. The regular shape of the rectangle gives the feeling of stability, this feeling is supported by the balance created by both the hands of the girl, and those of the woman, placed on either side of the picture. The contrast of the darker figures against the lighter background creates the effect of contre-jour. The author leaves a lot of the space in the picture blank, as if on purpose, in order for us to be able to come up with interpretations and fill it out according to our views. The monochrome, almost graphical colour scheme of the portrait, gradually changing from white to darker and delicate shades of grey and brown, is surprisingly expressive. This colour scheme creates a secure impression of calm and the fragile purity of the child, while showing the positive attitude of the portraitist towards the world. We do not know for certain, but something – tender sentiment perhaps – suggests that this is the Portrait of the Artist’s Daughter.
Anastasia Kuznetsova-Ruf was born in 1983, and in 2007 graduated from the Moscow State Academic V.I. Surikov Institute for Art.

Dr. Elisaveta Renne


From left to right: Chairman of the Carlsberg Foundation Flemming Besenbacher, prize winner Anastasia Kuznetsova-Ruf, and Dr. Elisaveta Renne. The Great Hall of Frederiksborg Castle, May 2013.