Lena Revenko



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August 9, 2018 / 23:18
More than year ago

Magic Forest exhibition, part 1

I take part in Documenta 1, the multi-art exhibition in Froots gallery in Shanghai, and I was asked to tell some stories behind my art. Sometimes when I tell my stories people are disappointed, because they have their own stories and connections. So I usually more curious to ask what the visitors feel and think about my works without giving any clear answer. But sometimes I do share my inspirations, and here are some of them:

Demon, sitting.
…He wandered, now long-since outcast;
his desert had no refuge in it:
and one by one the ages passed,
as minute follows after minute,
each one monotonously dull.
The world he ruled was void and null;
the ill he sowed in his existence
brought no delight. His technique scored,
he found no traces of resistance —
yet evil left him deeply bored.«
(M. Y. Lermontov „Demon“)

This is my homage to Russian artist Mikhail Vrubel’s work „The Demon Sitting“. It used to be my favorite painting when I was 13. I am not sure why, but I liked that this strong, handsome and full of power Demon can be sad, quiet and almost crying. Vrubel was a symbolist. Symbolism was an art movement in the beginning of XX century. Symbolists (very briefly) wanted to show some comlicated feelings and emotions. They took archetypal characters that already has meaning for most of the people (like demon, angel, princess, knight etc) and show the feelings on them.

Demon, Sitting

My Demon is a Black Fox. I use this character in other paintings, and this is how I imagine Don Juan. My Black Fox comes to lonely women and seduces them. But he also has his moments of loneliness and sadness…

more about symbolism, Vrubel, and his Demon

Old Acquaintance

When I was 4-5 years old, I was often ill and sent to my grandparents. For my entertainment my grandfather was reading me by heart long poems. My favorite was „The Little Humpbacked Horse“. It was about cool little magic pony who helped not very smart guy Ivan to get anything he wanted. I still have this book in my studio:


It was a very nice old animated movie, too. The horse has very long ears, and Ivan holds them while riding.


So, it is not surprising that I put this little animal in our Magic Forest. While drawing it, I was thinking — what if all the magical creatures know each other in a way? Like they go to a magic conference once a year to catch up about new magic techniques etc. What if suddenly my little horse meets, for example, Daruma, a Japanese talisman doll for good luck? I have a Daruma doll I bought in old shop in Kyoto, and was always wondering, why the doll that brings good luck looks so angry?


And also I wanted to show this awkward moment, when you suddenly run into somebody from your past:

Old Acquaintance

on the way to a tea party

Recently I was reading my kids a very cute book — „The Tiger Who Came to Tea“ by Judith Kerr:


It’s about a hungry tiger that comes (without invitation) to a little girl Sophie and her mom, eats all their food and drinks all the drinks. I found also a funny „realistic“ version on twitter:


So, what happens if you let the hungry tiger come to your home for tea? By that time I was obsessively collecting images of tigers, mostly korean and chinese:


The tiger in Asian mythology often comes as a Bad Wolf in European fairy tails, you shouldn’t open a door for him. So my tiger, I found it ambivalent. He is bringing the tea with him, and prepared for a traditional tea ceremony, but as schrodinger’s cat, he has inside the potential to be a nice guest or to become a nightmare.

on the way to a tea party

btw, another work, Get Lost, also inspired by vintage tigers. Like on this old chinese rug, I saw many images, mostly from China and Korea with a magpie and a tiger:


»Tigers and magpies is one of the iconic subject matters of Korean folk painting. A magpie is chirping on the top right hand corner and on the centre is a tiger, almost filling the entire painting. The tiger’s body is especially exaggerated and its face looks rather silly so that it seems more familiar than authoritative. The magpie, on the other hand, is painted in a livelier manner, making it look as if the magpie, which represents ordinary people, is scolding the tiger, representing corrupt officials. Originally, tigers and magpies were both symbols for good fortune, but they developed into a major theme in folk paintings as their relationship became more and more satirical.«

In my version the bird pisses the tiger off, she is mocking him, by transforming into a cat:

Get Lost

Tags: inspiration, my art, process

Magic Forest exhibition, part 1

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