Elena Chesnykh’s paintings at Space 776 depict women in landscapes—the vitality of the body merges with a dynamic natural world into a sensual dance of color and shape, sometimes in reference to harsh current events such as the war in Ukraine. The show, curated by Dasha Bazanova, will be on view from July 22 to August 17, 2022.
What would you like to share about the paintings featured in Woman in Landscape?
The exhibition includes oil paintings and watercolors representing different periods of my artistic practice but the main character brings them together—a woman searching for a new identity, her place in the world, and self-empowerment. This search is inextricably linked with my interest in body and sexuality. My attention to the body comes from my experience being an immigrant. I left everything I had: home, family, friends, financial well-being, language, culture, and career. What remained to me was my body. The body is inseparable; it belongs only to me. The body is always here and now, it physically presents in space, like an anchor connecting my mind with reality. I see the body as a source of vitality. My body is my territory, my own country.
Mermaid is an important character for me – half woman, half fish. Composite complex creation that does not fit entirely into any of the groups, in any of the strategies. It is both her weakness and a strength. My mermaid is an immigrant. She needs to invent and position herself, to discover her subjectness. I like to think that my mermaid can shed her tail like a snake, capable of change and renewal.
Nature in my paintings is a wild eternal force, where life and death are unseparated in their endless cyclicality. A human being is mortal and finite, while nature is infinite. While discovering the nature within ourselves, we can find that we are part of this infinity. A series of watercolors Dance is about the ability to hear the music of the world within oneself and creatively transform.
A social landscape appears in my new works. I painted Another Fallen Down Halfway during the pandemic. In this painting, the landscape is the city. Breach and Fire I created after the war in Ukraine began. The mirror in the painting Breach is a metaphor for setting myself on the same level with what is currently happening in the world. I want to undermine the position of an observer, to show that this position is an illusion. We are all inside this world, and we are all participants. Both good and terrible things are happening in the same reality. It is my reality, my landscape, and I have to deal with it.
All photo courtesy of the artist.
Elena Chestnykh: Woman in Landscape curated by Dasha Bazanova at Space 776 Gallery, 37-39 Clinton Street, New York, NY, 10002
Elena Chestnykh was born in Novosibirsk, Russia and currently, lives and works in New York. She has exhibited both nationally and internationally including at the Museum of Contemporary Art Erarta (MCAE) in Saint-Petersburg, the Art Center WINZAVOD, in Moscow, the State Museum of Novosibirsk, Tomsk, and Kemerovo in Russia, and Nord Art 2010, Rendsburg, Germany. In 2013, Urban Reflections traveled to New York Erarta Gallery and became Chestnykh’s first solo exhibition in the United States. Also, Chestnykh presented her work in New York at The Untitled Space, SFAprojects Gallery, The Royal Gallery, Trenton Artwork Center, NJ, and in a selected group exhibition at the School of Visual Art Gallery in Chelsea, NYC.