Yelena Popova

Untitled with three circles, 2014

Uncategorized

Dimensions Variable


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Artwork
Description

Mixed media on linen, 90x60cm +circles D20, D27, D15cm

The abstract visions of Yelena Popova’s paintings remind of the hazy realms of the unconscious visited while dreaming. On the surface of her paintings, naked canvas and colour playfully interlace to produce soft silhouettes or geometrical forms. Russian Constructivism and Minimalism are in style and intention close to the artist’s oeuvre: for Popova, painting is a deeply political act that manifests itself in non-political subjects.

The thinly stretched hues form exquisite shapes against the crudeness of the fabric; at times outgrowing the main canvas, bends in the frame and smaller circular components start to appear. On some instances the arrangement of the elements is rigorous, while on others it is much softer and yet the totality and completeness of the artwork is always clear, self-evident.

Popova’s oeuvre is punctuated by such devices: the various constituents of her installations concur to create a fine-tuned internal balance, slowly detaching themselves from the main piece and then gradually dilating the distance between them. Furthermore, when considered in comparison, her video-pieces endow the paintings with deeper meaning. Concerned with Cold War politics and the threat of nuclear conflict, Popova’s videos remind the viewer of her interest in history; in this sense, the delicate transparent brushstrokes in their whirls and geometries represent the traces left by the passage of time on the canvas.

Popova’s paintings come forth as the confluence of variants that are barely visible, barely recordable and yet the artist is able to capture them on the canvas, tracing the tidal flowing of time; the vestiges of history stare back at the viewer and convey a sense of serene, intense concentration.

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