British Accent by Ms. Marina Fedorova
Solo exhibition, Hotel Europe, St. Petersburg, Russia, 2017
Hyde Park and Tower Bridge, double-decker buses and red telephone booths, horse races and jockeys, the rain-soaked foggy London streets and half-empty night bars – in her British Accent series, Ms. Marina Fedorova reinvents the visual clichés associated with the United Kingdom and combines them with recognizable Moscow imagery.
In Paddington, the eponymous teddy bear poses against Lenin’s Mausoleum, while Russian Bear shows a Kremlin tower reflected in the polished surface of a red double-decker. In LondonGrad, the Big Ben finds itself amid the Moscow Kremlin, and In a Taxi is a vision of a Russian princess clad in a kokoshnik waiting for her glass to be filled with champagne while dreaming of London.
The UK is shown here through the eyes of a 21st century artist for whom geographical boundaries are all but arbitrary. In today’s world, one can move around at a fast speed, rapidly changing cities and countries. This very fact, as well as the ever-increasing role of the reflected reality of television, cinema and the Internet, causes the images that until recently seemed incompatible to confusingly mix in the mind of a modern person.
The series spans various media: watercolour, oil on canvas, and the Artist's trademark paintings on Plexiglas. Watercolours testify to Ms. Fedorova’s proficiency as a graphic artist. Easily switching from one material to another depending on her immediate creative goals, she returns to a smooth and cohesive painting technique, moving away from the pronounced impasto that first appeared in her Italian series (2013). She does this to render the image of picture-perfect London (The Thames) and sketch from the daily life in the city (On the Underground, London). London’s architecture itself, the way it is perceived nowadays, surrounded by the familiar signs of our time, becomes a character of the series in its own right.
In Tate Modern, St. Paul’s Cathedral is seen through the eyes of a museum visitor sitting in front of a large panoramic window at the café of the famous art institution. The clean lines of the white bar stools and the clothing style of the protagonist shown from behind (complete with Nike trainers and cropped trousers) accurately invoke the atmosphere of the late 2010’s. The 30 St Mary Ex skyscraper is also shown through the glass: it is observed by a mysterious fair-haired stranger turning away from the viewer, apparently just having awakened from her slumber. The lights of London by night, reflected in the wet pavement, appear as flashing images seen by a girl hurrying along the sidewalk in a wind-blown coat (Oxford Street). All these characters are depersonalised. They are most often shown from the back.
In the works featuring the London Underground, various night bars and bright shop windows, the same lonely figures appear, completing the image of a cold and not-so-welcoming city. One suddenly feels the urge to leave the place immediately and be transported into a certain imaginary London, hinted at by the words written across the painting To Fly Away.
In Victor. Victoria, the Artist uses a transparent Plexiglas base to create her painted version of the image of Victor/Victoria from the Blake Edwards film of the same name. Ms. Fedorova focuses on the face and hands of Julie Andrews’s character, highlighting her white shirt and red carnation. Everything else is vanishing in the darkness, which the Artist outlines with wide strokes of black paint.
This series is a collection of the Artist’s personal associations and a wide range of more or less recognizable images derived from cinema, literature and fashion: from Michael Bond’s children’s stories to popular films by English directors. The British theme receives a broad conceptual treatment, while the Artist’s innovative methods ensure the project’s relevance and freshness of perception.
Anastasia Karlova, Ph.D.
Curator of the Department of Contemporary Art, State Russian Museum,