October 9, 2020
Elena Zelenina - City Girl, 2019. Watercolor, colored pencil on paper, 24 x 18 inches
The modernist legacy continues to inspire some artists working today, who remained devoted to the explorations of the painterly surface while projecting their own aesthetic or conceptual persuasions. The practice of the Russian-born artist Elena Zelenina nicely illustrates this claim, as it is reminiscent of Marc Chagall’s painting, on one hand, and the spiritual preoccupations of Wassily Kandinsky on the other.
Zelenina's contemplative dreamscapes are a manifestation of the way the artist perceives spirituality since to her, everything in life is about spirituality or enlightenment, about what she likes to describe as "enlightened living."
The Dream, 2019. Watercolor, colored pencil on paper, 18 x 24 inches
Depicting The Oneness
Elena Zelenina was trained in the studios of two artists, M.Biryukov and N.Gladkih, who had a major role in navigating her artistic vision despite the fact that both of them were more interested in the actual reality, unlike Zelenina who tends to explore the fantasy worlds.
Other experiences that had a formative impact on her career were the voyages to India and the Himalayan Mountains, which led the artist to become a certified Vedic Art Instructor. This kind of orientation towards the spirituality infused her practice, as Zelenina focused entirely on depicting the state of Oneness. Elena says:
"Oneness is what I paint and how I see the world, heal, and celebrate. It's vast and all-inclusive, and once I grasped it, I couldn't look at anything any other way. I feel everything is incredibly connected despite the illusion of separation."
Left: Elena Zelenina - Madonna, 2019. Mixed media, watercolor, colored pencil on paper, 24 x 18 inches / Right: Elena Zelenina - The Flare, 2019. Watercolor, colored pencil on paper, 24 x 18 inches
The Zelenina Method
The artist is apparently inspired by the inner sensations popping out of your psyche and her entire approach is almost performative. Zelenina enters the creative process by meditating, and then the following trajectory envelops:
"I close my eyes and settle in an unclutched space of no assumptions. I observe my breath for some time and then get into an intense listening space. A flood of ideas rushes the moment I start a line on a paper or canvas. I continue the line until I feel extreme excitement about an idea. Then it feels like an image comes through me onto a canvas or paper."
She imagines herself as a tool or a witness to enhance the whole experience since she believes that human beings are not the final products, rather they are the possibility.
Elena Zelenina - Founding Mothers, 2019. Watercolor, colored pencil on paper, 18 x 24 inches
The Firmness of Elena Zelenina
When it comes to the matter of shifting to another media, Zelenina adores the organic structures of paint and the flow and therefore remains loyal to watercolor, oils, and acrylic.
Despite the interpretation that spirituality is just a trend that leads to another realm of thinking clueless of the real, social, and political issues, and the fact the same has become part of market-driven logic, the artist believes that true spirituality is to be at our highest potential. Moreover, she underlines that the ones who are spiritual and are not familiar with the way society functions are most likely devoid of knowledge and are exposed to SDHD (self-doubt, self-hatred, and self-denial). As Zelenina explains:
"SDHD is responsible for the patterned thinking that comes from our wrong conclusions about ourselves and life. This patterned thinking takes away the freedom of existence and makes us see the world in a certain way. We might feel that only this way is right. An enlightened person can understand market-driven logic and play that game without being affected by it."
According to Zelenina, it all comes to nurture the enlightened thinking that is a mandatory condition for the transcendence of any human being willing to be good for themselves, their community, the world, and all beings.
As mentioned, alongside her painterly practice Zelenina is a writer. Under her assumed name Shraddha Nythyananda, the artist published the book Art Completes You. Transformation through Art and The Science of Completion through which she emphasizes the spiritual guidelines in art.
Eager to start a movement called Completionists by connecting with other artists who operate with the healing practices, Zelenina stands for a positive and spiritually engaged approach that tends to enable a better world for others. She also wishes to expand her activity into the field of art education by writing a textbook teaching kids' art at home since the current state of art education the artist perceives as disappointing.
The paintings of Elena Zelenina are currently displayed online in the virtual show at Artios Gallery, until November 1, 2020.
Featured image: Elena Zelenina - City Girl, 2019. Watercolor, colored pencil on paper, 24 x 18 inches. All images courtesy of the artist and Artios Gallery.