Russian-born British artist ARINA, based in London, exhibits her paintings all over the world and is recognized with a number of awards in the UK, USA and Europe. Her paintings have been featured at venues such as the Saatchi Gallery and Mall Galleries in London, Museum of Fantastic Art in Vienna, Venice Arsenale in Italy and many others in New York, Miami, Venice, Rome, Hamburg, Vienna, Brussels, Marseille etc. and participated in events in London, Buenos-Aires, Moscow and Beijing. Her works are in private collections worldwide, including Gustav Metzger private collection and Museum of Drawing, Macedonia. ARINA has also been included in Reinhard Fuchs’ book ‘Masterpieces of Visual Art. The Great Female Artists from the Middle Ages to the Modern Era’ alongside Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’Keeffe, Yayoi Kusama, Tracey Emin, etc. ARINA is a full-member of Society of Women Artists (SWA) in the UK and Portrait Society of America (PSA). She studied at the Central Saint Martins College of Art having graduated with Master’s degree (MA) in Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art, University of the Arts London. Her works and achievements are all documented on her website www.arina-art.com
Contextual essay by Peter Monkman MA, Director of Art Charterhouse and First Prize Winner of the BP Portrait Awards 2009 at the National Portrait Gallery, London
Recently within contemporary art there has been resurgence in using the portrait genre as a tool to explore concepts that reach beyond pure appearance and likeness. As an artist that uses portraiture, I am drawn to examine what it is that makes certain figurative artists compelling. ARINA’s faces stand out from the crowd with a graphic signature style that is memorable. The compositions have a bold directness with the monochromes and reds creating a visual language that communicates across cultures. Her use of light, composition and pose has a sense of a 17 Century Dutch artists like Vermeer but the use of scale, tone and reference to realism bring it firmly into the 21 Century. The qualities of her art have hints of her Russian background within the context of Western influences.
On close inspection ARINA’s handling of paint is not of bold gestures but the quiet, slow build-up of tonal values which beautifully suggest the sensual surface of the skin and underlying bone structure. The lack of hair accentuates the features of the face with the folds of the head scarf contributing to the architecture of the head, creating an almost sculptural object. The repetition and slight variation of the compositions suggest film or photographic sequences and the flat red head scarf creates a colour-field that generates an interesting shifting pictorial space for the face to occupy. ARINA uses herself as a vessel for her ideas; however, I would argue the paintings are not self-portraits. The likeness is striking and her expressions are beguiling; she occupies her face with the confidence of an actor trying to communicate to a broad audience.
ARINA’s portraits are ambiguous, she does not reveal too much about herself but presents an icon of a woman that can be contemplated and interpreted in many ways; this is where her paintings’ strength.
ASC Studios, Erlang House
128 Blackfriars Road