Yelena Popova

Couple, 2014

Uncategorized

Dimensions Variable


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Artwork
Description

Mixed media on Linen, Oval 50x40cm + circle D20cm + wooden bit

The art of Yelena Popova seems to be of the stuff that dreams are made of: elegant smoky swirls of paint on one hand, the materiality of the coarse raw canvas on the other. The playful interaction of such elements on the work, turns abstract pale shapes into clearly distinguishable geometries. The influence of Russian Constructivism  and Minimalism is evident in these works by the Russian-born artist, for whom painting becomes a radically political gesture embodied in seemingly non-political subject-matter.

The watery palette employed by Popova unfurls on the canvas and leaves a trace of its passage in the delicate forms it takes. Like water expanding beyond the canvas’s limits, the main element is often characterised by bends in the frame or accompanied by smaller ones. They remain in the vicinities, like satellites to a star: geometrically distributed or creating an uneven and graceful balance, the ovular canvases complete the main piece while being completely detached from it.

Indeed, Popova’s work is characterised by such feeling of simultaneous fragmentation and plenitude: the various parts that constitute the artwork are initially densely distributed and then gradually dissipate, conferring to the piece harmony and breath. Understanding of Popova’s works on canvas is enriched by the knowledge of her videos, pervaded by the subtle and pervading unease generated by the threat of nuclear conflict during the Cold War era. If compared to such works, a new light is shed on the artist’s gauzy painted compositions: they are the tangible/intangible footprints of history, sublimely captured on canvas by Popova.

By fixing such elusive and ineffable traces with pigment on her artworks, Popova’s canvases become a site of intense introspection and reflection of the ineluctable flowing of time.

About
the artist

Yelena Popova (b. 1978, Urals, Russia) lives and works in Nottingham. She studied at Moscow Art Theatre School and Byam Shaw at Central St Martins before graduating from MA Painting at the Royal College of Art in July 2011.

Popova is an artist who works across a wide range of media, including painting, video and installation. Reflecting her upbringing in the Urals, she is influenced by the tenets of Russian Constructivism, while often seeking to discuss the constant development of industrialism and the landscape of contemporary Capitalism. There is an important stress placed upon the theme of balance within her work, whether this is political, aesthetic or metaphysical.

Popova’s work consists of contrasts between latent and manifest meanings, shape and content, form and material. Her documentary films, such as Particulate Matter, provide a relatively concrete exploration of the universal relationship between Capitalism and Industrialisation, across cultural intersections. The documentary’s aesthetic is evocative of Russian Constructivism and Soviet Montage.

Complementing the more supraliminal documentaries, her linen panels consist of ethereal forms, reminiscent of the opalescent smog so often spawned by the industrialised city. They are an abstraction of the tangible, while maintaining a robust tactility; the images are suggestive of Turner, however her practice more accurately aligns with tenets of Russian Modernism. There is an intrinsic sense of balance encapsulated in the fluid contours, cut short by the restrictive rectangular canvas, and then recaptured by round supplementary satellite panels. This produces a symbolic contrast between the eternity of the circle and the finitude of the rectangle. Materiality is also explored rigorously; the use of linen, overlaid with pale washes, creates tactility, while the aqueous ethereality of the washes seems virtually nonexistent.

Yelena Popova primarily focuses upon matter and materiality, using a wide variety of media to open up discourses to her audience. She creates discussions based upon the systematic relationship between objects in Industrial and Capitalist cultures, which is reinforced by the powerful contrasts present in her work and the equilibrium they manage to maintain.


Popova’s work consists of contrasts between latent and manifest meanings, shape and content, form and material. Her documentary films, such as Particulate Matter, provide a relatively concrete exploration of the universal relationship between Capitalism and Industrialisation, across cultural intersections. The documentary’s aesthetic is evocative of Russian Constructivism and Soviet Montage.

Yelena Popova primarily focuses upon matter and materiality, using a wide variety of media to open up discourses to her audience. She creates discussions based upon the systematic relationship between objects in Industrial and Capitalist cultures, which is reinforced by the powerful contrasts present in her work and the equilibrium they manage to maintain.


Yelena Popova
on Artuner

Part of the
exhibition

December 8th, 2014 until
February 25th, 2015
Curated by Kirsty Ogg