Flora received a £7,000 prize to help establish a studio space as she transitions from Masters student to practising professional artist.
In November 2017 she enjoyed her first solo exhibition at the Brocket Gallery in South London, from which all available paintings sold out ahead of its official opening.
We visited Flora at her new studio to find out more about her artwork, including her exploration of Western aesthetics and themes of femininity.
Q. How would you define your work in three words?
Dynamic, saccharine, voluptuous.
Q. What does winning the ACS/City & Guilds of London Art School Studio Residency mean for you as an artist?
It’s incredibly motivating and encouraging to have been selected for the prize which has tempered any anxiety about leaving the structure and support of the MA. The certainty of having a studio for 12 months creates another period for developing my practice away from commercial pressures. The prize has enabled me to work full time in the studio and rent enough space to continue working on the large scale, which I find so exciting.
I have already rented a beautiful studio in Borough for 12 months with heaps of natural light and a view of The London Eye. It’s a great central location making it convenient for studio visits and it’s also in walking distance from Tate Modern, White Cube and other amazing south London galleries.
Q. What medium do you mainly work with and why?
I am a painter. Because of its prevalent role in art history, painting really forms the basis of Western aesthetics. Its influence is therefore ever present in contemporary visual culture. Its long history as a valued art form, widely documented, discussed and written about, has created a wide-reaching network of associations and meaning which extend beyond the visual into myth, politics, ideologies and so on.
This makes it a very rich and evocative language to play with. I also find the material qualities of paint and the happenstance nature of the painting process extremely satisfying. I can be engaged with conceptual investigation and at the same experience a child-like pleasure in the gooey messiness of the material.
Le rire de la Méduse, oil on linen, 210 x 180cm © Flora Yukhnovich
Image courtesy of ACS
Q. Where do you find most inspiration for your work?
I am always thinking about painting and ideas can be triggered by anything – an Old Master painting, a book I’m reading or a TV advert for wireless broadband (my latest inspiration!). I try to stay alert to my subjective response. My current body of work grew out my awareness of my own prejudices towards aesthetics deemed to be feminine. I realised that this was because the aesthetic attributes which we understand to be feminine were not at all true to my lived experience of being female. My recent paintings have been playing with ways of addressing this disparity.
Q. Take us through your working process.
I start by drawing and painting small studies of imagery that interests me to absorb the marks into my sensibilities and muscle memory. The actual painting process is fairly intuitive. Each mark is determined by the last as I respond to the evolving painting.
I sometimes photograph the work and paint directly onto the photos, or collage images together in Photoshop, but I mostly like to stay blind to the final piece. It’s really a case of narrowing possibilities until there aren’t any left. Then the work is finished.
Q. Can you remember the first work of art that you created? What was it and why was it so memorable?
I have always drawn, painted, and made things. There isn’t one particular work that I remember but there are several landmark works which have determined where I am now with my practice – moments where something that has eluded me finally comes to fruition or a work which has surprised me, opening up a new territory to explore.
Flora’s paint palette
Image courtesy of ACS