Julia Kiryanova (Kazakhstan, 1991) is a painter whose work displays a variety of interests, from interiors to large-scale portraiture and from nudes to cityscapes. This exhibition features a selection that reflects Kiryanova’s multifaceted approach to painting.
Kiryanova knew from a young age that painting and drawing were her greatest passions. She attended several art schools in Russia before moving to Europe age 21, feeling that the country she grew up in did not allow her the artistic freedom she desired. In 2016 she was admitted to the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague – upon seeing her portfolio, the interviewer deemed any further examination unnecessary.
On the lower level of the gallery a display of smaller-scale interiors and cityscapes introduce the viewer to Kiryanova’s style: an energetic, free yet confident applying of the paint to create images imbued with elusive notions of melancholy, a fleeting sense of homesickness and fond memories of past places.
A fascination for people lies at the heart of much of Kiryanova’s work. ‘For me, painting is a dialogue’, as she puts it. For her Struggle series, she made frequent visits to a special needs school in Southeast Amsterdam. Bonding with the children and witnessing their strength in coping with their disabilities through education and play, she started work on large and intimate portraits that easily betray a loving relationship with the subject. The painter wanted to capture both the determination to grow and the frustration of not being able to participate in society. Six striking images, executed in oil paint using only a palette knife, form the core of this exhibition.
On the upper levels a mix of nude portraits and five works from the series No gender, arranged salon-style, form another testament to Kiryanova’s ability to infuse honest representations with an almost tangible sense of respect and admiration for her models. Her use of colour and the sometimes contorted figures pay homage to artists like Jenny Saville and Lucian Freud. Engaged with social issues and inequality, Kiryanova aims to contribute to our awareness and acceptance of transgender people and emphasises the fluidity and diversity in gender and sexuality.
Julia Kiryanova has shown work at Amsterdam Museum, Podium Mozaïek and at Art Square at the Hermitage. She is currently preparing for a portrait series on refugees.
Join us for the opening on 2 June at 8pm, see Facebook and click attend.