New exhibition by Yulia Ilieva, a Russian artist residing in Switzerland
Between January 23 and May 4 everyone has a chance to order some tasty pastry and coffee at one of the world’s oldest confectionary, Confiserie Zurcher, and enjoy Yulia Ilieva’s exhibition at the same time. What can be better than some sweets alongside high art? The new series, currently on display in Montreux, combines abstract shapes and characters full of life and motion encouraging the viewer to embrace the present moment and to focus on their feelings as opposed to hiding them. This is an original view of sleek ballerinas who look nothing like those of Edgar Degas. Yulia’s dancers captured in the middle of a performance are full of emotions and the aesthetic of wavy lines.
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I’m very pleased to announce my opening in Montreux. I’m so grateful to Confiserie Zurcher @confiseriezurcher for hosting my works. And to all the people who inspired me and helped in the creation of the last series of works 😊 Alexander Filkine, Ballet Photographer (Moscow – Vladivostok – Saint-Petersburg) @alexanderfilkine , Anna Petushinova, soloist of Buryat Opera and Ballet theatre @annapetushinova , Paige Elizabeth Bensington, artist of Ballet Ireland @_paige_besty_ , Patric Palkens , soloist of Boston Ballet @pattymacfatty , Masha Berezkina, photographer @0duvanka My works are on view until May 4, Avenue du Casino 45, 1820 Montreux #confiseriezurcher #art#paintings #suisseart #acrylicpainting #artwork #montreux
‘In this series ballet artists were my inspiration. I remember being greatly impressed by photos of a well-known dancer captured in a jump. I wanted to convey this grade of internal freedom, expression of gestures, beauty of motion which is so abundant in ballet, in my paintings. I turned to an old friend of mine, Alexander Filkin who specializes in ballet photography. He enjoyed the idea and shared a lot of materials to help me make my ideas come true. Thus, my paintings now show silhouettes of a Boston Ballet soloist, artists of Ballet Ireland, and a soloist of Buryatia Ballet among others. It is an immense pleasure to get inspired by the work of highly talented people’, the artist comments.
Artist’s profile: Yulia Ilieva did not take up art right off the bat. She started the search for her true self in law school. Later on, she worked in Citigroup as a consulting legal expert. However, as it happens to creative people, her life did a 180. The artist could not bear going with no art in her life. She would not see herself without paintings and a flow of inspiration. Back in 2005 she enrolled in a two-year history of arts course at the Russian State University for The Humanities in Moscow. A couple of years later, she graduated from Perrotti Russian-Italian art school. Yulia draws inspiration not just from within, but also from what surrounds her. It has always been clear to the artist that fresh emotions and new images could only appear in foreign lands, new environments, and unseen landscapes. In 2011 the artist moved to Switzerland with her family, and to this day she resides in Montreux, on the shores of Lake Geneva.
‘I love painting immersing myself into my work. I heard about fear of an empty canvas. This is not the case for me. Instead, I love filling it in. This is the joy of experiment. The joy of improvisation. A feeling of travel and the unknown. This is a moment of filling the canvas with colours with quick brushstrokes, creation of a multi-layered composition and a deep space to host the story. This is a strong cooperation with the work, a mutual immersion, and circulating energy. I am convinced the viewers are able to perceive this energy as a code’, Yulia explains.
A combination of structured backdrops, transparent figures, and layers of bright colours convey what the artist has tried to depict for many years, plasticity of motion, energy, and a flow of inner strength not confined by a body.
‘This is an exhibition of a new series of my works finished in a style and technique I haven’t used before. I came up with the idea as I was experimenting with various artistic materials, media, large formats, and, last but never least, newer sources of inspiration. This is some sort of a result of my artistic findings in the course of my impressionist and botanical art periods. I’ve always been fascinated by the very first moment of creating a painting, the sketch. Bold and lively lines full of energy. Most of the time I wanted to leave the drawing as it was instead of going on. This is how I came up with the idea of conveying the sketch in a painting’, Yulia continues.
‘I use acrylic paint, dry and oil pastel, large and flat brushes, and rolls of different sizes. These materials let me work with larger formats, make transparent backdrop layers, convey motion and pulse in a still image, and indicate the direction. I want to keep the viewer looking at my paintings, travelling around my picture, enjoying it and witnessing the change of the painting’s state, watching it open up and become even richer’, the artist says.
Confiserie Zurcher that hosts the exhibition used to be a venue favoured by Vladimir Nabokov. Praline, truffles, and other delicacies were the author’s favourite food as he resided in Montreux. In the mornings he loved spending several hours working, and later going for a walk along the shore, and getting some sweets at his favourite confectionary with his wife Vera. If the weather was good, having enjoyed his sweets, Nabokov would go catch butterflies in the mountains. We wondered as to why the most favourite spot of a Russian author attracted another fellow Russian some 50 years later.
‘I live 5 minutes from Montreux, right on the lake. Confiserie Zurhcer is one of the oldest places in the town. IT’s been there since 1879. I go there quite often. It is a historic place with its own unique atmosphere. It sells wonderful desserts which are true culinary masterpieces. One of the halls hosts regular exhibitions of various artists. I met the owner and great-granddaughter of the founder, Anne Ralph-Zurcher. She liked my works, and we arranged the exhibition’, Yulia replies.
Should you plan to visit Switzerland, do come over to the confectionary for some chocolate with truffles and inspiration from Yulia Ilieva. If the weather is good enough, pack a butterfly net.
45, Avenue du Casino, 1820, Montreux, www.confiserie-zurcher.ch/
Written by Elizaveta Khokhlova
Translated by Tony Savosin
Photography by Maria Berezkina