Characterised by their luscious colours, sense of buoyancy, and gestural brushstrokes, Flora Yukhnovich's large-scale canvases recall the traditions of 18th-century Rococo painting. Though drawing from art history, Yukhnovich's concerns lie within the present.Read More
Flora Yukhnovich completed her studies in London, first focusing on graphic design at Kingston University (2009—2010) then on portraiture at the Heatherley School of Fine Art (2010—2013). It was while at the latter that she became fascinated with paint itself, and went on to obtain her MA from City and Guilds of London Art School (2017).
Influential on Flora Yukhnovich has been the work of French Rococo painters, among them Jean-Antoine Watteau, François Boucher, and Jean-Honoré Fragonard, who painted blissful scenes that often imparted a hint of the erotic. Yukhnovich replicates the luminous colours and lightness of Rococo-era paintings in her own works, but abstracts the forms in the process to create an ambiguous state in which figures emerge and submerge into the brushstrokes. Figuration and abstraction intersect in her paintings, which the artist has described as being 'highly gendered: the pretty Rococo imagery and the machismo of abstraction.'
Yukhnovich is also concerned with the historical and contemporary perception of Rococo as being decorative and superficial, two terms which have come to be associated with the feminine. Experimenting with the abstraction of Rococo-inspired imagery, the artist seeks to reclaim the aesthetic.
Among Rococo-style art, Yukhnovich has drawn from fête galante: depictions of the aristocracy in idyllic settings engaging in amorous play made popular by Watteau. Daubs of paint create form and movement in her paintings such as A Glass and a Half (2018—2019) and Capriccio (2019), in which flesh-coloured strokes suggest limbs and nude bodies that quickly melt into their surroundings.
Fête Galante was also the title of Yukhnovich's solo exhibition at Leeds Arts University in 2020.
In 2019, Flora Yukhnovich undertook a two-month residency in Venice through Victoria Miro, concentrating on the work of Italian Rococo painter and printmaker Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. She was interested in the differences between French and Italian Rococo art, in which the latter emphasises lyrical flowers and the play of light in composition. Resulting works include Barcarole (2019), an oval-shaped painting inspired by Tiepolo's fresco at Ca' Rezzonico, that saw the artist strive for the subtle balance of various forms.
Flora Yukhnovich held her first solo exhibition at Brocket Gallery, London in 2018, which was followed by Sweet Spot, Parafin, London (2019) and Fête Galante, Blenheim Walk Gallery, Leeds Arts University (2020). Represented by Victoria Miro since January 2021, the artist has also held solo exhibitions with the gallery, including The Venice Paintings and Flora Yukhnovich: Baracarole (both 2020).
Selected group exhibitions include The Sky was Blue the Sea was Blue and the Boy was Blue, Victoria Miro on Vortic (2021); 45 At 45, L.A. Louver, Los Angeles (2020); and Telescope, Jerwood Gallery, Hastings (2019).
Flora Yukhnovich's website can be found here.
Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2021