. In COOLTURA
“I never could trust you to choose a restaurant.”
“But! I read about it in the New Yorker! Does that mean nothing?”
“I think there’s a lot of…politics in their reviews. Anyway, NA ZDOROV’YE!”
We clink tiny glasses; our 10th or 100th shot of horseradish vodka.
“I’m gonna be sick.”
“I’m gonna cancel my subscription.”
I don’t know much about restaurants but I’m an expert on Yulia Zinshtein. For example, I can write her last name here and publish it in this article without double-checking the spelling!
We met in Milan, back when American Apparel was everywhere, Lady Gaga was no one and indie rock ruled the radio. She had bangs, I had a bowl cut–you get the idea. Since our haircuts have been friends, she’s lived in Paris, Manhattan and [currently] Greenpoint.
We have a long-distance friendship, so over the years I’ve had to create images of Yulia in my head, when I missed her, which was often. (We knew each other before Instagram, OK? This is how “checking up” on someone used to work.) When I picture Yulia, she’s wearing an accent accessory (like a smart beret), talking about a boy and holding a camera. The accessories and boys have changed–*ahem* a lot–but the camera remains the same. I think. I can’t really tell cameras apart, they’re foreign objects to me.
Yulia knows cameras. She studied photography in Milan, Paris AND New York City. She’s been published in various magazines and taken bomb-ass portraits of me (and my dog, actually). But we aren’t here to talk about Yulia’s photography. We’re here to share her glamorously bizarre, iconic paintings, which make you long for something lost and feel you have everything, all at once. Like a long-distance relationship! The paintings came into the world last summer, surprising everyone who knows Yulia–including Yulia.
masha & the bear
I met up with Yulia in Brooklyn last week. We had dinner at Masha & The Bear, the new Russian gastropub, which had the New Yorker raving and left Yulia unimpressed. I didn’t interview her IRL because we preferred to gossip about mutual friends instead so we did an email Q&A after I left. Yulia and me, divided again! 😭
SZ: YOU WERE DISCOURAGED FROM PAINTING AS A KID IN RUSSIA. TELL US ABOUT THAT.
YZ: I always wanted to be a painter so my mom put me Russian art classes, consisting of classic training. Kids were being trained to apply to art school–my classmates were a bunch of third graders when I was sixteen. They were way better than me already. My Russian teacher would actually paint over what I did wrong to make it look nicer. I was like, “I guess this isn’t for me?”
SZ: WHAT MADE YOU START PAINTING AGAIN?
YZ: I finally realized you don’t have to have technical skills to make good work! I’ve been seeing more and more “amateur” painters in galleries, which excited me. I was like, “hell ya! I can do it too!”
SZ: YOUR PAINTINGS ARE INSPIRED BY ARCHIE COMICS. HOW COME?
YZ: Haha I talk about this all the time, even in my other work. When I was a teen I was obsessed with being an American Teen (I still am, tbh). I obsessively watched American 80’s high school films, read their young adult novels and comics! I was always angry at Archie so I’d exclusively buy the Betty and Veronica’s.
SZ: YOU’RE LEAVING NY SOON! WHY! WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS?
YZ: Don’t get me wrong, I love NYC! I just need a break. I’ve found myself hating crowds. NYC literally is one big crowd, pushing people out of their homes. It’s getting sad. Only rich people can really live comfortably here, and that’s really no fun. I want space. For once in my life, I stopped caring too much about parties. I’m moving upstate which is so not too far–I’ll be able to have a studio in my home and maybe even a backyard ??? My dream goal is to open an exhibition space/store!
SZ: WHAT MUSIC DO YOU LISTEN TO WHILE YOU PAINT?
YZ: It changes so often! For 2 days on repeat I’ll listen to Tyler the Creator’s “Cherry Bomb” and another day I’ll listen to the jazz radio, podcasts, or something sad, like Alex G.
SZ: AS A TAURUS YOU LOVE BEING COZY: WHAT’S COZIER TO YOU: PAINTING OR PHOTOGRAPHY?
YZ: HAHA this is my Favorite question! I love being cozy so much, no joke. They are such different levels of cozy. I would have to say painting, at the moment in my life, is cozier than ever–partially because I don’t need to leave my house! I can enter another world without leaving my own. It’s the only thing that helps me clear my brain without disengaging. Photography is for when I’m out and about in the Real World–I have to be awake and “on it.”
SZ: WHERE CAN PEOPLE FIND AND BUY YOUR WORK?
YZ: Please email me at Yzinshtein@gmail.com, I’m really nice and I’ll send you a price sheet. I currently only have my photography work on my website. I sell prints as well 🙂 xo
~FOLLOW YULIA HERE~