Love Letters to Paris: Ekaterina Popova at Cohle Gallery

Ekaterina Popova in her studio, Photo credit: Helena Raju

For the past several years, Philadelphia-based painter Ekaterina Popova has been exploring the theme of interiors in her work. The interest in this subject began as a way for her to reflect on her upbringing in Russia, but eventually evolved into a deeper investigation of the overall idea of “home” and what it means to her now. Her paintings highlight the warmth and beauty of lived-in domestic spaces, including items and objects that refer to a human presence without including the figure.

Her upcoming solo exhibition with Cohle Gallery in Paris entitled “Enjoy The View” will debut over twenty paintings that continue Popova’s series of romantic interiors and intimate domiciliary spaces. These works are about enjoying the actual views depicted in her rich, painterly compositions but are also a metaphor for taking the time to be present and mindful in one’s life. She inspires and encourages us to savor every moment and to fall in love with the people and places that add color to our lives. In these paintings of decadent rooms, unmade beds, airy balconies and open windows, the artist playfully explores texture and light with oil paint. Through her mastery of color and value, she creates a lush and dreamy atmosphere in each scene. In advance of the show opening, we sat down with the artist to delve deeper into the motivations behind her creative practice, how she prepared for this career milestone, and what viewers can expect to see in this newest collection of paintings.

Bath Steam, 24 x 30 inches, Oil Painting, Photo courtesy of the artist

Interiors are a subject you’ve been working with for years now. How do you visually represent the concept of ‘home’?

My early paintings were very nostalgic. I would paint memories of my old home and would obsessively search for images of vintage Soviet apartments and villages. These days, I like to think of the images of interiors as a way to play with mood, emotion, color, and texture, and it’s a broader theme rather than a specific place. I’m visually drawn to textiles, still life scenes, and bedding. It’s fun to capture the essence of a space through paint.

Adding onto this, there’s also warmth and familiarity to your work, even though we rarely see a figure. Can you talk about that choice and how color plays a role in creating the mood in your paintings?

I haven’t found a reason to include a figure in my work because when I think of these interiors visually, I’m entering these rooms as if I’m just walking in. I see them through my own eyes, and they tell the story without needing another figure. But, of course, given the subject matter, the rooms are very much about the human presence and the objects, bedding, and other elements speak to that. Color can speak to our emotions and moods. It’s my favorite part of painting – choosing a palette and experimenting with the effect.

You’ve been preparing for your upcoming solo show in Paris with Cohle Gallery over the past few months. In what ways do these new works continue the series you’ve become most known for and in what ways are they different?

These works still explore the interior but from a more luxurious, fantastical perspective. These spaces are over the top, lavish, and celebrate the finer things in life. They also celebrate my love for Paris, which is incredible, given that I have an opportunity to share it directly with its residents. This series expands beyond mundane subject matter and opens my work up to unlimited possibilities with interiors.

Paris Through The Window, 30 x 40 inches, Oil Painting, Photo courtesy of the artist

What has your process been to generate over twenty new paintings for the show? How do you mentally and physically set yourself up to meet a deadline like this?

I wrote a whole article about it for an upcoming issue of Create! Magazine. It took a significant toll since I also run a business on top of being an artist. But it was a worthy investment of my time and energy to see how far I can push my work for an incredible opportunity. For the most part, meditation, regular exercise, and journaling were very helpful, but towards the end, the intense workload affected my health. Ultimately, I know the effort is worth it, and a beautiful break to sketch and enjoy the hard work is coming.

Is there one specific painting you’re especially proud of or one where you felt you really pushed yourself creatively? Tell us about it.

The blue painting “Paris Through The Window” was in a very different color scheme for me. I used a limited palette of ultramarine, yellow ochre, burnt sienna, titanium white, and cadmium yellow to get as much depth and light as possible.

It’s your first international solo show – so first, congratulations! How would you describe this milestone in your career?

I’m extremely grateful and would be lying if I didn’t mention being a little nervous. It’s a lot of effort and I really hope my viewers enjoy the work as much as I loved creating it. I am expecting a lot of my friends, family, and community to come to the show so it’s going to be incredible to celebrate this milestone with those I love.

I’m also very grateful to Cohle Gallery for giving me this opportunity and complete freedom and trust in this series. They are an incredible gallery to work with and made this process so much more enjoyable than I could ever anticipate. I urge you to check out their new space in Paris, their talented roster of artists, and their additional upcoming exhibitions!

Warm Light, 30 x 40 inches, Oil Painting, Photo courtesy of the artist

Exhibition Details:

Ekaterina Popova’s “Enjoy The View” opens at Cohle Gallery at 7 rue d’Argenteuil on November 17th with an opening reception from 6-9pm. The exhibition will run through December 3rd, 2022. Cohle Gallery is a contemporary art gallery based in Paris, France and Menorca, Spain. Founded in 2016, the gallery specializes in figurative and semi-abstract art with works in a variety of mediums.

Artist Biography:

Ekaterina Popova is an award-winning artist born in Russia, known mostly for her original oil paintings of interiors. Ekaterina received a Bachelor’s in Fine Art from Kutztown University in 2011 and since then has been exhibiting her work internationally. She is interested in expressive work exploring mood and emotion and is influenced by Post-Impressionism, Fauvism, and Magical Realism, which has enabled her to examine the subject of home, place, belonging, and identity over the past decade.

Her work has been exhibited internationally, including with Cohle Gallery in Paris and Menorca, The Painting Center in New York, James Oliver Gallery, Decorazon Gallery, Affordable Art Fair, Art Miami Fairs, The Trenton City Museum, Paradigm Gallery, Delaware Contemporary, The Boxheart Gallery, A.I.R. Gallery, and more. Popova has been featured in multiple blogs and publications, including Colossal, Beautiful Bizarre, American Art Collector, The Jealous Curator, DPI Magazine, Friend of The Artist, Iceview, and The Philadelphia Inquirer. The artist has attended several residencies, including at Centre Pompadour in Abbeville, France, NES Residency in Iceland, the Skopelos Foundation for the Arts in Greece. She works out of her rustic factory studio at 1241 Carpenter Street Studios in Philadelphia.

Writer Biography:

Alicia Puig is a curator and arts journalist whose writing has been featured in magazines and on blogs including Create! Magazine, All She Makes Magazine, Beautiful Bizarre Magazine, Art She Says, and Artwork Archive, among others. She is based in San José, Costa Rica.

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