Imagination, Life is Your Creation is part of a series of paintings by Flora Yukhnovich that formed part of her 2019 solo show at Parafin, London. Using the artistic language of the Rococo, these examine notions of femininity as expressed throughout art history, drawing connections within contemporary popular culture, notably the world of Walt Disney movies. The title Imagination, Life is Your Creation quotes ‘90s pop group Aqua’s infamously catchy song Barbie Girl. This pointedly comments on the dichotomy between Yukhnovich’s feminist artistic practice and childhood memories of ‘joyfully skipping along to the song’, seduced by its sugary beats. The artist notes, not without some relish, how at times she is ‘repulsed by her own tackiness’. Reading feminist art historian Linda Nochlin initiated a broader engagement with the question of women’s agency – or perceived lack of – within art history, leading Yukhnovich to revisit her own conditioning and preconceptions nurtured in her childhood.
These self-reflexive and conflictual layers are embodied in her painting technique, where a strong gestural approach combines with the ‘juiciness’ and ‘deliciousness’ of her palette, pointing to the seductive pinks of a passive and objectified feminine represented in young girls’ magazines. Yukhnovich seeks to create active images which do not submit to the gaze but have the capacity to affect the viewer, even push back at times.
Born in the UK, Flora Yukhnovich completed a Foundation in Art and Design at Kingston University, London (2009–10), followed by a Diploma and Post-diploma in Portraiture, The Heatherley School of Fine Art, London (2010–13), and an MFA at the City and Guilds of London Art School (2016–17). To date, she has had solo exhibitions at Parafin, London (2019) and Brocket Gallery, London (2018); with work included in the group exhibitions Dialogues: New Painting from London, GASK, Kutná Hora Museum, Czech Republic (2018); Telescope, Jerwood Gallery, Hastings (2017); Young Masters Tour 2.0, Cynthia Corbett Gallery, London (2017); MA Show, City & Guilds of London Art School (2017); ING Discerning Eye, Mall Galleries, London (2016); Summer Salon, Lubomirov / Angus-Hughes, London (2016); The Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition, Mall Galleries, London (2014, 2016); and Pop-Up Exhibition, Boston Consulting Group, London (2016). Forthcoming is a two person show with Caroline Walker at Victoria Miro, London (date tbc). In addition to grants during her studies, Yukhnovich was awarded the @thegreatwomenartists and Palazzo Monti Residency, Brescia, Italy (2018); and Artist Collecting Society Studio Residency (2017).
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