Secrets are being contemplated in this artwork.
Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer
N2N Gallery, Abu Dhabi, in collaboration with Coya Abu Dhabi has launched Spirit Animals (Oct. 17 – Dec. end), an exhibition of the artworks of Ukrainian artist Nina Murashkina. Murashkina’s collection is an exploration of animals and their symbolic role. In her new painting series, there are no explicit human figures (though there are some suggestive hands). The weight of the compositions rests on the animals: their central position in colourful red or golden backgrounds, centering attention on their expressions, complexion and movement.
Animals have an important role in symbolism and Murashkina’s research explores multiple interpretations. Sometimes they become a medium, but they can also represent a materialisation of spiritual energy, such as the sacrifice of the bird, or raw energy in the form of a mesh of snakes. One is reminded of the mediaeval Bestiaries, such as the Bestiarie d’amour (Bestiary of Love, prose work of Richard de Fournival written around 1245 and a huge success in the thirteenth century).
In the middle Ages, animal stories were immensely popular throughout Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. The people of the time were, of course, dependent on wild and domestic animals for their survival, and so had an obvious and intense interest in the animals around them. But there was more to it than just a requirement of knowledge of the animals known and used; there is a distinctly spiritual and even mystical aspect to the animal lore of the Middle Ages.
In Murashkina’s works, though there is part of the eternal form of the old symbol, her new, personal vision vaults them to the practices of the contemporary art world.
“For me, it was an unexpected but interesting challenge to create a series of works with fantastic animals, almost without a human figure”, she says. “Each animal has its own mystical and allegorical meaning. A certain secret, a special secret code that can be read by each viewer in his own way”.
For instance, the Black Cat is the keeper of the hearth and home and is represented with a funny and wise golden smile. The Red Horse, or a horse disguised as a unicorn, is masculine in attitude, but feminine in the delicate patterns and expression of the eyes. However, it is the Leopard Cat that deserves to be admired, if only for its intricate details. It is depicted by an engrossed look, posed and imperturbable, with the waves of the troubled world in the background. The look tells us: Don’t worry too much, life will go on as always, I have seen this many times. The Green Lion is strong, heavy and dangerous, guardian and defender of the delicate and spiritual birds.
Prophet Bird indicates something is happening in the world: there are many layers of reality. The fantastic creature, standing between a symbolic moon and a red sun, extends his wings and sings a mysterious prophecy. The Sweetness, the artist says, is a dreamlike allegory of purity. The unicorn is the flying guardian of the red bed, which is the symbolic shelter of a secret world.
My Secret is the first artwork of the series, where a mysterious figure under a white cloak, directs us to the ritual of transformation of one unknown essence into another.
In Tell Me Truth, snake woman looks in the mirror and wants to be beautiful. She asks the perennial question from the fairy tale: Who is the most beautiful of all in the world? Cats weaves a romantic plot with two cats being symbols of upcoming spring time. The night is late and thick smells of the blossoming trees and flowers abound; the full moon is like an orange, waiting to be eaten by these lovable, insatiable creatures. In Her Secret, the main character is a girl who rides on a strange creature that looks like a wolf man. The image refers to folk tales about the wolf and Little Red Riding Hood; but it is adult reading, with a fresh, feminine, sound.
Born 1985 in Donetsk, Ukraine, Murashkina studied at Donetsk Art College (Graphics Design); Kharkiv Art Design Academy (Monumental Painting); Kyiv Art Academy (Stage Design and Film) and Art Academy of Jan Mateyko, Krakow, Poland (Painting). Her style is a synthetic mix of classical art education and a combination of decorative painting, kitsch art, naive, magical symbolism and contemporary art. N2N Gallery is an Abu Dhabi based art gallery established in 2013 with the ambition of helping everyone discover the rich diversity of the European Academic School of Painting, as well as the high professionalism of contemporary European artists and their exceptional art.
Founded by art enthusiast Natalya Muzaleva, it hosts sculpture, graphic art and paintings, fusing realism and modernism. The gallery’s collection is renewed constantly and currently comprises over 170 original works, including paintings, graphics and sculptures. N2N also organises art master classes, inviting established artists to teach UAE art lovers, and is committed to supporting the development and increasing interest in art and dialogue in the local art scene.
Coya Abu Dhabi is a Peruvian restaurant located at Four Seasons Hotel, The Galleria, Al Maryah Island. “N2N Gallery has demonstrated remarkable exhibitions in the past as well and it gives us immense pleasure to collaborate with a team of similar aspirations”, says Stefano Pizzini, Coya general manager.
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