In conversation with artist Ksenia Shinkarenko
Melbourne-based artist Ksenia Shinkarenko reconciles many antipodean influences, pouring them into artworks which have emerged as a unique reflection of her lived experiences. Transitioning effortlessly between creative pursuits, Ksenia has been able to find a visual language which is poetically succinct, filled with an alluring luminosity and defined by resolved compositions which instil a sense of calm and clarity within the spaces they hang. We talked to her about how her influences have shaped her work, her processes and what’s next.
Open Journal (OJ): Please tell us a little about yourself, your background and how it has manifested as the paintings you produce today.
Ksenia Shinkarenko (KS): I naturally gravitated towards art and design at age seven. As an adult, I pursued a career in fashion design which led me to visual merchandising and other areas of retail. A decade in the fashion industry was a fundamental part of my transition to art. The early stages of my study and work were split between Japan and Singapore. The traditional yet modern architecture, experimental fashion, and minimalistic aesthetic of both countries, especially Japan, had a profound impact on my artistic vision. My paintings are inspired by subtle, sometimes imperfect, natural beauty and how it harmonises with the modern world.
OJ: I’d love to hear more about your process. Your paintings are filled with a luminosity and a transition between hues that is all but invisible. How do you achieve this?
KS: It’s all about the flow. I use fluid acrylics and focused flowing movements to capture a perfect moment in time, without falling into a strictly controlled style. The fluidity makes the whole process unpredictable. Each painting embodies a natural colour transition with its own unique personality. As a piano player myself, I often listen to solo piano pieces as I paint. I find a musical rhythm that connects to the artwork. I guess it’s a kind of meditation for me. Balance and joy are key in this process.
OJ: How would you describe the alteration on a space in which your paintings hang? How might they engage in dialogue with styling and architecture?
KS: If my paintings transform a space into a tranquil, restorative environment my mission is accomplished. I want to evoke a sense of harmony in the viewer. When it comes to styling, I can see my work tying together old familiar designs with new concepts. The raw canvas brings warmth and texture, while the three-dimensional shapes add depth to a space.
OJ: How deliberate is your use of colour, texture, balance and composition? Your work holds sense of movement, a fluidity that is very natural so I wonder if you work largely intuitive, in more of a considered way or if each piece evolves through several iterations?
KS: My work is a combination of consideration and intuition. My process begins with a clean outline. I then let go of control and explore a more intuitive style, working with colours, layers and transparency. I am drawn to objects with an asymmetrical balance, dynamic composition and a sense of gravity. Experimenting with negative space and balancing elements with equal visual weight helps to create a sense of movement. Each final piece is a result of several iterations, creating exclusivity for each owner.
OJ: There is an abstract quality to your work that is very sculptural. Would you ever transition to other mediums? I understand that you have once before moved fluidly from one discipline to another (fashion to painting and then back to textile prints) and wonder if there is another natural extension you sometimes consider?
KS: My work is about harmony, organic flow, and abstraction. One day, I would love to add further functionality and explore furniture design and homewares. I am also fascinated by the interaction between various mediums and art disciplines to create a fuller picture. I enjoy observing relationships between vibration and colour, movement and reflection, and energy and saturation. Combining these mediums in installations is another possible extension of my art which I am excited about.
OJ: What are you currently working on?
KS: I am currently working on new series of paintings that explore dance and the study of movement. I plan to release it in Autumn this year. I am experimenting with more dynamic lines and colours that enhance the moments in time that can go unnoticed. They are simultaneously and energising.