Category: In The Artist's Studio

Alina Maksimenko: Guided By Light

“At some point, I as a painter, came to understand that I think in light. Light breathes life into a work…I believe I think as a painter, I build my works as a painter. Observing myself, I realized that working with other material, I am still guided by light.” 

– Alina Maksimenko

Maksimenko, "Swan Lake," Mixed Media on Canvas, 55 x 35 in.
Maksimenko, “Swan Lake,” Mixed Media on Canvas, 55 x 35 in.

Alina Maksimenko of Kiev, Ukraine, pours her passion for light and color into each of her  sensory-alluring works. Maksimenko contemplates the organic beauty of bright colors that arise from the depths of darker, shadowed natural tones, as shown above in the electric teals glowing alongside shades of brown and indigo. The light Maksimenko thoughtfully places on the canvas in “Swan Lake” seems to frame her forms, two dancers perhaps, as it breathes life into her subjects.

“Light is motion — it inspires, animates things… Your eye surfs from light to shade. You watch out for something in the halftones. I dare to surmise this sway from shade to light is the emerging of image.” 

Maksimenko, "Sketch No. 8," Mixed Media on Canvas, 51 x 35 in.
Maksimenko, “Sketch No. 8,” Mixed Media on Canvas, 51 x 35 in.

Graceful, tactile, a first impression. Maksimenko’s “Sketch No. 8” embodies a concept she has been working towards in the series of her figurative sketches. Maksimenko’s method of recreating a figure is not one of self-establishment, or anatomical precision, but more-so a synthesis of the luxurious nature of the human figure alongside the illuminating essence of the human spirit and soul. The artist’s work is not fully defined or formed, alluding that the purpose of her figures lies rather in the process itself as her source of inspiration. She approaches each canvas with an open mind, an unprecedented hand, allowing the artwork to emerge through her evolving relationship with her medium, still guided earnestly by an axiom of color and light.

Maksimenko, "Sketch No. 6," Mixed Media on Canvas, 35 x 51
Maksimenko, “Sketch No. 6,” Mixed Media on Canvas, 35 x 51 in.

In an interview with the artist regarding her recent installation called “Exodus,” she began speaking about an important part of her artistic process, further exploring the transcendent role of light in her artwork:

“I think close to my feelings is 17th century attitude, when light began to live its own life in a painting, even overcome form, when space exploded with bursts of white light, rhythm, shadow dips… things appeared ascending to the light.” 

The figure of her painting, “Sketch No. 6” (above) can appear in different ways subjective to the viewer. Yet, one can most certainly agree that it rises from the depth of the shadow dips which Maksimenko speaks of, ascending to the light that bathes it in rays of warmth. The artist’s reverence to 17th century attitude is clear, as the conversation of light and shadow in her work parallels the patterns of light that were emerging in Renaissance paintings in Europe during that period. Scenes became dramatized by chiaroscuro light effects, seen in works by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Le Nain, and La Tour. The graceful but imposing portrait style of Anthony van Dyck became very influential, and though his figures were fully defined compared to Maksimenko’s more elusive style, the dedication to the emergence of light can be seen between the two.

Maksimenko, "Tulips," Mixed Media on Canvas, 55 x 35 in.
Maksimenko, “Tulips,” Mixed Media on Canvas, 55 x 35 in.

Maksimenko imparts her viewers with a gift, the vision of a dreamscape half-way between reality, halfway transcending this world for another. Her work is inspired by her ability to see the joy of life in every moment, providing us with a visual metaphor for the undeniable passion she has for her work.

“There again, painting is unpredictable. I approach canvas without knowing what I will do. I come with a feeling. Light enables discovery for me.”

– Alina Maksimenko

Below is a video of the artist discussing her recent installation, “Exodus.” Enjoy a window into her artistic process and creative endeavors.