'Art must be felt, not seen': How this Russian artist paints blind-folded

Recently in Dubai, Daria Sanatina, known for her blindfolded creations, speaks on challenging the conventional notions of art and going beyond the limitations of sight

by

Somya Mehta

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Published: Mon 13 May 2024, 6:51 PM

Last updated: Mon 13 May 2024, 11:02 PM

When considering art forms such as painting, drawing, ceramics, and photography, the umbrella term that immediately comes to mind is visual arts. Sight, being the primary sensory organ employed to weave brushstrokes together, makes the notion of not using one’s eyes to see or sense a painting almost seem implausible. But not for Russian artist Daria Sanatina, who believes that art, first and foremost, must be ‘felt’, not ‘seen’.

Through her enigmatic pieces of art, Daria is on a mission to demonstrate that there's no such thing as ‘bad’ art or artists; rather, there exists only art and how one perceives it. Beyond the realm of sensory notions, art, for her, is something that transcends the boundaries of physical realities.


Renowned for her remarkable ability to create stunning artwork blindfolded, the Russian artist defies traditional artistic norms and challenges perceptions of creativity. At just 26 years old, this Russian visionary has already left an indelible mark on the art world, painting not with her eyes, but with the depths of her imagination.

“Tell us about yourself,” I prompt, eager to delve into the psyche of this unusual artist. Daria's eyes exude a quiet confidence as she begins to narrate her tale. “My name is Daria, and I can confidently say that in my perception of life, I am an artist, a creator,” she begins. “This is expressed in every aspect of my journey.”


“I understood what I wanted to be from early childhood; at the age of five, I told my parents that I would be an artist and leave a mark on world history,” she adds.

With each brushstroke, she invites viewers into a world where sight is transcended, and art becomes a profound expression of intuition and her inner visions. The Dubai audiences recently got to witness Daria's magic at the 10th edition of World Art Dubai, which serves as a testament to the limitless possibilities of artistic expression.

“I can't say how this realisation came to me, or whether I was born with it,” she muses. “I simply love my work, which in itself gives it meaning. I often translate images from my dreams and visions onto the canvas.”

But it was not merely the act of painting that has defined Daria's artistic ethos. “Since childhood, I've had the sensation that someone inside me was creating the pictures as I drew. ‘Hands draw themselves,’ as they say. I never pondered how to mix colours or draw an object in a particular way; I simply surrendered and did it by instinct.”

It was this instinctual approach to art that led Daria down a path less travelled — one where sight was not a prerequisite for creativity. “I own an art studio called Look Inside, and students would come to me saying they couldn't draw anything, believing that without talent, achieving a beautiful result was impossible,” says Daria.

“They’d often say that to be an artist, you had to possess certain qualities, be born with abundant talent, and that they could never envision themselves as artists,” she recounts. “To demonstrate that anything is possible, I introduced a new master class on painting with eyes closed.”

With her unusual style of painting blind-folded, Daria likes to add another layer of challenge to her craft, performing in front of a live audience. Drawing on her experiences on stage, she adds. “Painting a picture with my eyes closed is an experiment. I fall into a trance, and my hands draw on their own.”

But it doesn’t come without its challenges, she adds. “The stage at times can be slippery, making it difficult for me to keep my balance,” says Daria. “It is very difficult to evaluate the result in that moment. When I paint with my eyes open, I can correct many aspects and align the painting with my vision. However, when painting with my eyes closed, this is not possible.”

Yet, amidst the uncertainties and the fleeting moments of doubt, Daria remains unwavering in her resolve. “I usually easily adapt to any difficulties, especially such minor ones that arise. So, in general, I won't say that this is difficult for me,” she adds.

“This is a mechanical memory, as I have been drawing faces and eyes since early childhood. I imagine images in my head that I transfer to the canvas through sensations. These performances serve as proof that art must first and foremost, be felt, not seen,” she continues.

“You truly need the ability to look inside. Then, you will see pathways inaccessible to ordinary human logic.”

In Daria’s world, darkness is not a hindrance, but a canvas upon which dreams are painted, and possibilities remain endless. And as she continues to inspire audiences with her blind-folded creations, one thing becomes abundantly clear — true artistry knows no bounds. “It makes me so happy that each time, when I take off the blindfold, I see so many people with inspired eyes.”

somya@khaleejtimes.com

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