In 2007, Ms. Marina Fedorova turned to oil painting, diversifying her artistic language. In comparison to her previous series Brief Encounters, which employed the language of illustrations and posters, the present works are filled with colour and light. This is again an ode to Paris, but created in a more figurative manner allowed by the medium of oil painting, with highly elaborate nuances and details.
The artworks are inspired by the observations and impressions from walks in Paris, travels by train, interiors of French cafés and boutique windows. Painted after her return to St. Petersburg, these paintings retain the elusive spirit of Paris captured by the Artist in her previous series. With less theatricality, though, the new series is more connected with the present.
Ms. Fedorova uses photographic optical effects as an artistic device: a blurred background (La Fille, Paris, je t'aime), an overall blurring effect (Security, Walking the Street), and sometimes a black and white palette inviting comparisons to black and white photography (AngelA).
Ms. Fedorova’s unconventional approach to composition sees a further development: the Artist boldly frames images, giving them a look of random snapshots. In La Fille, the model’s eyes remain ‘off screen’: the image is complete without them. A fashionable coat, low cleavage, sensual lips and several strands of blond hair are enough for creating the image of a modern successful and stylish young woman. The cars parked in the background are an important addition: Ms. Fedorova’s female characters exist in a modern city environment. They are shown against the backdrop of busy streets, headlights and traffic lights (Red Light).
In her work, the Artist does not create psychological portraits. She aims at capturing the atmosphere of a general state of a relaxed well-being, success and beauty seen as trendiness. This leads to a characteristic approach to composition, with special attention paid to certain details and generalization (or elimination) of others.
For example, in Coffee and Cigarettes, with its in fact carefully planned composition, the Artist seeks to create the same sense of a fleeting moment: in the lower left part of the canvas a brightly manicured female hand elegantly holds a cigarette, while in the upper right corner the image of the cup is ‘trimmed.’ A key with a number 4 tag hinting at a hotel room completes the vision of an easy, languid life filled with sensual pleasures.
The paintings in this series offer the viewer fragmented image-impressions in perfect accord with the modern mosaic thinking. In 2008, as the world of social media was just beginning to gain popularity in Russia, Ms. Fedorova captured its nascent aesthetics.
Ms. Fedorova’s favourite recurring motif, a reflection in a shop window, also appears in this series (one of the first such works, Framing from 2006, is in the permanent collection of the State Russian Museum). The Artist seems to gaze admiringly at the patches of light on the storefronts, at distorted reflections and overlaid images. Her work dedicated to the famous American actress Liv Tyler is also based on this technique.
Steve McCurry, in which the Artist once again turns to the window showcase imagery, is an homage to the famous documentary photographer whose exhibition Ms. Fedorova saw in one of Paris galleries. The modern vision associated with the new visual qualities largely dictated by the Internet and camera optics resonated with the Artist, and she managed to breathe artistry and poetry into the recognizable images of the 2000s.
Anastasia Karlova, Ph.D.
Curator of the Department of Contemporary Art, State Russian Museum,