Veronica Smirnoff’s Vibrant Visions Illuminate Cromwell Place

VERONICA SMIRNOFF A Thousand Blue Moons, 2024

Candida Stevens Gallery is presenting Blue Sky Red at Cromwell Place. This event marks the most comprehensive solo exhibition of Veronica Smirnoff’s unique and compelling work in the UK to date. 

This gallery showcase unveils a vibrant new collection from the British-based, Russian-born artist, whose artistry blends the sacred with the profane, and the sublime with the earthly, creating a vivid world of colour and imagination.

One of the most striking pieces is Thinking Red (2024), a lush painting of a female figure draped in a voluminous crimson dress, embodying Smirnoff’s fearless use of colour and form. The exhibition beckons viewers into a realm where the boundaries between high and low art dissolve, replaced by a magical and mysterious narrative that is driven by Smirnoff’s creativity and mastery of paint, inviting them to be part of the artistic experience.

VERONICA SMIRNOFFAlenushka and Leviathan, 2021
VERONICA SMIRNOFF Alenushka and Leviathan, 2021

Smirnoff also presents three large-scale tapestries commissioned over the past year in boldly expanding her oeuvre. These textiles translate her intricate visual language into the tactile medium of embroidery. Starting with digital prints of her miniature panel paintings, each tapestry is meticulously hand-embroidered, exploring this ancient technique’s sculptural and textural potential rooted in collective storytelling.

Smirnoff’s mastery of egg tempera painting, a technique dating back to Byzantine and pre-Renaissance art, is central to her practice. She began honing this skill at the Slade School of Art and further refined it with the guidance of Russian monks at the Optina Pustyn Eastern Orthodox Monastic Centre near Moscow. Here, she learned the traditional method of grinding precious stones to create pigment powder, mixing it with white wine and egg yolk to produce the quick-drying medium applied in thin layers to gessoed wood panels. These panels, still sourced from the monastery and blessed by the monks, add a spiritual dimension to her work.

Smirnoff’s jewel-like paintings are rich in detail and symbolism. She draws from her personal experiences, memories, and various cultural and political references. Her influences span art history, including Persian miniature painting, Japanese screens, Chinese scrolls, religious iconography and folklore.

Veronica Smirnoff, born in Moscow in 1979, has a BA from the prestigious Slade School of Art and a postgraduate diploma from the Royal Academy of Arts; her artistic career has been marked by numerous accolades, including the Terence Cuneo Prize in 2004, selection for the John Moores Painting Prize UK in 2010, and Women to Watch UK in 2009. Her work has been showcased internationally, with exhibitions in Milan, Paris, Berlin, London, and New York. Currently based in London, Smirnoff’s art is a testament to her diverse influences and personal experiences.

Candida Stevens Gallery, established in 2013, is known for its curation-led approach. It produces exhibitions exploring vital themes through the innovative works of emerging and established UK artists. Blue Sky Red exemplifies this mission, offering a vibrant exploration of Smirnoff’s unique artistic vision.

Top Photo: VERONICA SMIRNOFF – A Thousand Blue Moons, 2024

Blue Sky Red:  A Solo Exhibition by Veronica Smirnoff – Cromwell Place, Gallery 12 & Wing Gallery 20 May to 26 May 2024

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