Reviewing Victoria Miro's current exhibition 'Flora Yukhnovich: Thirst Trap'
Flora Yukhnovich is an artist I have been dying to write about ever since I have seen her work last November. I haven't gotten the chance until now, when I walked into a spatious room filled with her paintings.
Yukhnovich is one of the few contamporary artists whose work have captured and fascinated me. Many have described her work as sensual, drawn from the rococo masters and focused on feminine figures, especially on Venus. The connection between the Roman/Greek (Aphrodite) goddess, femininity, sensuality and water is very present in her work and somewhat evident, but only in the best way. In her own words: 'There is a tendency for water and the sea to
be spoken about as female – fluid and soft but also capricious and destructive. I like the potential for strength or force in that association and it’s something I try and bring to these paintings.' Her work makes us engage with the meaning of the 'feminine': the subtlety, versatility and posibility and the natural world around us. Her colour palette is highly indicative of this: we see beautiful pink, blue, purple and green pastels; intense reds and fuchsia shades; and incredibly well used nude colours which create such depth. I have never seen something that projects such depth, yet such simplicity. (Painting to the left: detail from 'Rouge allure")
Her technique is so incredible, that to someone like me who is just passionate about art, it's hard to find the language to best describe her art and my response to it. To me, her work decomposes images. It somehow reaches the deepest layers of paint and elevates it to an entirely different level. Her brushstrokes seem random yet the effect achieved is something I have never seen before. She creates shapes and human figures with a simple indication of colour, rather than spelling the image out for us. She litters her work with clues, technical gestures, but the interpretation comes from you. Her work involves you. It is not only the paint that I feel she looks through, but also the subjects portrayed. Being inspired by Rococo paintings, I feel she breaks this strict, corseted, classic portrayal of women, and infuses it with light, sensuality and a freedom of being. A sort of fluidity and versatilty. One of my favourite things about her work is the feeling. The feeling of freedom. Detached and individual. Free of any lables or specifics. It could be anything and everything. It somehow is and isn't at the same time, and that unspecificity is what draws me the most.
'She is Beauty and She is Grace'
The painting below is entitled 'Bombshell'. Eleanor Narine has written such a fantastic passage about this painting: 'A recent painting is called Bombshell, pointing to that which both tempts and destroys – a word that contains a pin-up like Bardot, and the violence with which late capitalism fetishises the image of women and co-opts it for the marketing of next to everything'.
There are so many interpretations and topics that can be drawn from Yukhnovich's work, and I invite you to draw your own by seeing this spectacular exhibition.
When: 1 - 26 March 2022
Where: 16 Wharf Road, London
You can find more information about the exhibition at https://online.victoria-miro.com/flora-yukhnovich-london-2022/
Written by Tímea Koppándi