Victoria Miro presents an exhibition of new paintings created during a residency with the gallery in Venice by the London-based artist Flora Yukhnovich.
In 2019, Victoria Miro established a studio space in Venice for invited artists to spend extended time in the historic city and make new bodies of work. During a recent two-month residency, Flora Yukhnovich used the opportunity to engage more fully with Venetian culture. Her sources include the music of Vivaldi and the memoirs of Casanova, in addition to one of her key influences, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, whose works including ceiling frescoes in the Ca’ Rezzonico museum and the Chiesa Santa Maria della Visitazione she was able to study first hand.
Since completing her masters degree in 2017, Yukhnovich has received acclaim for paintings in which she adopts the language of Rococo, reimagining the dynamism of works by eighteenth-century artists such as Tiepolo, François Boucher, Nicolas Lancret and Jean-Antoine Watteau through a filter of contemporary cultural references including film, food and consumerism.
A shift in emphasis from predominantly French to Italian influences has, for the artist, resulted in a number of developments and breakthroughs. While Yukhnovich has long been entranced by the idea of the fête galante–a type of painting depicting the wealthy at amorous play in parkland settings that came to prominence with Watteau–Tiepolo’s ceiling paintings have encouraged a more heavenwards focus, bringing with it a change in palette towards celestial blues and pinks and compositions that defy a gravitational pull. Brush marks, freed from describing flesh, become looser, lighter, functioning as directional cues to the viewer.
Of special interest to the artist was Tiepolo’s fresco Wedding Allegory (1757), in the Ca’ Rezzonico, commissioned in honour of the marriage of Ludovico Rezzonico and Faustina Savorgnan, its radiant sky a backdrop for Apollo’s chariot drawn by four horses, which carries the couple, along with various allegorical figures and a lion, symbol of Venice. Yukhnovich has based one new painting on its colour and composition. Another celestial vision, Tiepolo’s The Coronation of the Virgin, commissioned in 1754 for the newly constructed church of Santa Maria della Visitazione, known as La Pietà, inspired Yukhnovich to work on an oval canvas for the first time.
Antonio Vivaldi, who was born close by, taught violin at the adjacent Foundling Hospital for many years and, while the church itself was rebuilt in a neoclassical style shortly after Vivaldi’s death, it is still referred to as the ‘Vivaldi Church’. For Yukhnovich, the idea of Vivaldi and Tiepolo working roughly contemporaneously has led to additional consideration of her paintings’ rhythmic sensuality. In other works, Venice’s decadent age of Giacomo Casanova provides a source of inspiration. Casanova’s memoirs and their stories of sex and intrigue, which the artist read during her residency, impressed on her the idea of masquerade as part of Venice’s history, one that might extend to the geography of the city itself–a place constantly in flux, where light plays across its vistas and expanses, shifting in and out of focus, variously cloaked or disguised.
About the artist
Born in 1990, Flora Yukhnovich completed her MA at the City & Guilds of London Art School in 2017. She had her first solo exhibition at Parafin, London, in March 2019, and has recently exhibited at GASK, the Gallery of the Central Bohemian Region, Czech Republic, and the Jerwood Gallery Hastings. Upcoming solo exhibitions include Fête Galante, at Blenheim Walk Gallery, Leeds Arts University, UK. Collections include Government Art Collection and David Roberts Art Collection. In 2018 she completed The Great Women Artists Residency at Palazzo Monti, Brescia.
Press release courtesy Victoria Miro.